Mark McKenzie kept his starting spot and the Belgian Challenge League got underway this past weekend, but Tyler Wolff took no part in SK Beveren’s season opening loss.

Genk 2 – 1 Cercle Brugge

Mark McKenzie kept his place in the heart of Genk’s defense when the Smurfs hosted Cercle Brugge on Sunday evening and came away with the 2-1 victory, thanks to a pair of goals from Belgian midfielder Bryan Heynen. 

After looking second-best for long stretches of the first half, Genk’s captain finally took control after chances from Nemeth and Cuesta. Heynen was picked out by his Mexican team mate, Gerardo Arteaga, who placed the ball on his captain’s head and watched him nod it past the Cercle keeper.

Immediately after the intermission, Maarten Vandevoordt was picking the ball out of the back of the Smurfs’ net. Ahoueke Denkey came on for the re-start and immediately made his coach look wise doing so, as the Togolese striker went up against McKenzie for the ball and came away with it. He then made the perfect pass to Olivier Deman who made no mistake and leveled the score.

It took a penalty kick for Genk to claim the victory after Daniel Munoz was brought own in the box. The referee consulted VAR and yes indeed, the decision stood and Heynen collected his 4th goal of the season and the game winner.

Next up for Genk will be a Saturday afternoon trip south to take on RFC Seraing.

Mechelen 5 – 4 Westerlo

In this game that could have been a Yank vs. Yank affair, neither teams’ Yanks were on the field at the kick-off in this goalfest thriller in Mechelen on Sunday afternoon. 

Jorge Hernandez did collect 45 minutes against Westerlo, his most so far this season, while Westerlo’s Bryan Reynolds only saw a few minutes of stoppage time, coming on in the 90th minute. 19 year-old Griffin Yow is currently out of the first team picture for Westerlo.

With a total of nine goals scored, fans of both teams had their highs and lows with 3 players scoring braces. 

The visitors took the leader after 26 minutes when Nene Dorgeles drew first blood. The lead lasted all of 13 minutes with Geoffrey Hairemans finding the back of the net to knot things up. He then put his team ahead 3 minutes after the intermission. 

The lead changed places thrice and was a big disappointment for Westerlo after taking a 2 goal lead in the 73rd and surrendering the game winner in the 85th.

Next up for Mechelen will be Saturday night clash at Sint-Truiden, while KVW welcomes bottom of the league Eupen on Saturday night.

Notes

Owen Otasowie never left the bench when Kortrijk came to Jan Breydel Stadium and left tasting defeat after falling to the defending league champions by a 2-1 score line. The Anglo-American will hope to see some playing time over the weekend when Club visits Charleroi on Friday night.

In the second week of the season of the Challenger Pro League (division two), Tyler Wolff has yet to see any action for his new team, SK Beveren. The Flemish side threw away a couple of points in stoppage time when Karim Iluga tied the game p at 2-2 for Excelsior Virton. The young American will hope to make his Belgian debut when his team travels to Brussels to take on Anderlecht II on Saturday afternoon.

Sam Vines and Royal Antwerp will not take to the field until Wednesday night when they host Union Saint Gilliose and look to regain top of the league status.

By Michael Adubato

The old man of Yanks-Abroad, having been around since the very beginning in 2004, Known as the resident Belgian expert since that’s where he has lived for a couple of decades. Over the years he has interviewed Nats such as Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore and Tim Weah, to name a few. When not working the day job, he can often be found in stadiums around Europe, watching games from the top flight to the lower leagues. To prove that he is not just a pretty face, Mike received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner! On a non-soccer note, Adubato has just released a book of poetry from his travels, Missing the Exit, published by Broken Keys Publishing in Ottawa, Canada. So that must make him the YA poet laureate! You can grab your copy on Amazon.com, order online and pick it up and Barnes & Noble or get an e-copy at various outlets.

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