Europa Conference League Recap: Vines and Antwerp Crash Out of Europe

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Sam Vines and Royal Antwerp collapsed at home against their Turkish opposition Thursday, ending their European run and ensuring that no Americans will to play in the group stage of the Europa Conference League.

Royal Antwerp 1 – 3 Istanbul Başakşehir (agg. 2-4)

Sam Vines went the distance at left back for Royal Antwerp on Thursday evening, but the team was never able to gain its balance in an eventual convincing loss to Turkish team Istanbul Başakşehir.

A string of strong performances by the Coloradan left back has created a growing buzz about a potential shot at the USMNT roster for the upcoming friendlies and potentially the World Cup. However, he will hope that Gregg Berhalter and his staff skip the video of this game, as his team conceded three goals, with Vines largely at fault for the final score.

With the teams coming into the game knotted at a goal apiece on aggregate, the Turks took the advantage in the eighth minute. Stefano Okaka Chuka was released on the right flank by a headed pass, and advanced towards the endline before squaring the ball to Berkay Özcan for an off-balance side-footed shot from six yards that easily beat Antwerp keeper Jean Butez.

The hosts were the more aggressive of the two sides, and pushed hard to equalize the aggregate. They came close on multiple occasions in the first half, forcing Istanbul keeper Volkan Babacan into several saves.

They finally had their breakthrough just past the 53-minute mark, when Jurgen Ekkelenkamp tried to steal the ball off of Babacan’s foot, only to be knocked over by the keeper.

Michael Frey took the resulting spot kick for Antwerp, easily burying the shot to the lower right corner to momentarily restore the balance.

This lasted all of two minutes, as Mounir Chouiar fought to maintain possession near the Antwerp endline, then lofted a cross towards the right side of the area that Chuka headed in just inside the right post.

To emphasize the point, the visitors added a third on the night, bringing their final aggregate advantage to 4-2, when Lima launched a long free kick into the right side of the area. Vines momentarily lost his man Danijel Aleksic, who broke free to head the ball into the net for the final goal.

Highlights of the game can be seen (for the moment) at this link.

The draw for the group state will take place on Friday afternoon however will be of little interest to most American fans as currently no Yanks are amongst the remaining 32 teams for the group stage.

The only exception is recent AZ Alkmaar signing Djordje Mihailovic, however as he will only join the team in January, his participation will be limited to a potential knockout run.

For Antwerp, the loss means they can concentrate solely on domestic matters this season, which sees them next taking the field against Gent on Sunday.


Hadjuk Split and USMNT U-20 youngster Rokas Pukštas wasn’t in uniform for the Croatian team on Thursday night as a 2-0 home loss to Villarreal handed them a 6-2 aggregate defeat, and an exit from European competition.


David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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