Virginie Lefour/Imago

Belgian Pro League Kicks Off This Weekend

5 minutes, 32 seconds Read

It’s time for soccer in Europe once again and Belgium will be one of the first to get their 2023-24 season underway this Friday when Anderlecht makes the very short trip to the Forest municipality of Brussels to take on Union St. Gilloise. 

Currently both KAA Gent and Club Brugge are looking to gain a place in the group stages of the UEFA Conference League as they navigate the ongoing qualification round.  Gent hosts MSK Zilina before they head to Slovakia for the away leg, while Club hosts AGF Aarhus before they also hit the road and head to Denmark.   

A couple levels up in the European hierarchy, Mark McKenzie and Genk are up against Servette of the Swiss Super League as both teams look to advance to the Champions League group stages. After the first game, it’s all square as it ended 1-1 in Geneva.  The home leg will be played in Belgium next Wednesday.  

Eupen vs Westerlo 

Griffin Yow and Westerlo will travel close to the German border to go up against Eupen in their opener. The 20-year old Virginian was sold to the newly promoted team from the Province of Antwerp last July and made his debut in the end of season play-offs as the team fought for a European play-off spot. They were however unsuccessful. Yow took part in five games at the tail-end of the season, registering only double digit minutes off the bench. He has however, been taking part in Westerlo’s pre-season games and will look to break into the starting 11 as soon as possible.   

Bryan Reynolds was on loan at Westerlo from AS Roma last season and was regarded as one of the best defenders in the league. He has since returned to Italy but the word on the street is that the team is negotiating with the Italian club to buy the US international outright.

Reynolds played 32 times for the team that was then newly promoted and also found the back of the net on one occasion.

In the summer transfer market, KVC picked up Jordan Bos from Melbourne City. The 20-year-old left back has already capped twice for his national team. Another addition is Arthur Piedfort, an 18-year-old center back from PSV Eindhoven’s youth system.

The first time that the American(s) of Westerlo will go up against another Yank will not be until September 15th when they welcome Sam Vines and the Belgian Champions to Het Kuipje.

Molenbeek vs Genk 

It will be a trip to Brussels for Mark McKenzie and Genk on Saturday for their season opener when they head west to take on newly promoted Racing White Daring Molenbeek, or just plain ol’ Molenbeek. The new boys to the big show are owned by American rich guy, John Textor, who also happens to own Olympique Lyonnais in France, Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas in Brazil and a large chunk of Crystal Palace in the English Premier League.   

It was a heart-breaker at the end of last season for the Smurfs, in the last play-off game when they were beating Royal Antwerp 2-1 in stoppage time, only to see Belgian international Toby Alderweireld put the ball into the back of the next in the 94th minute. That one point was all that the Great Old needed to snatch the title from McKenzie and his teammates.  

McKenzie had a very good season, playing 36 games overall while netting four times, an impressive haul for a central defender. He’ll slot back into the starting line-up when the season gets underway as the team looks to do one better than last season and claim their first title in five years.

There is another Yank on the books of Genk, although he is currently listed with the reserves, Jong Genk. Evan Rotundo, from San Diego, signed with team located in Limburg Province last September from German club Schalke, and has seen action for the team that competes in the Belgium Challenger League, the second tier of the Belgian Football Association ladder.

While the Pro League starts their season this weekend, the Challenger League doesn’t get underway until two weeks later. Jong Genk will SK Beveren as they go looking for their first three points of the season.

Genk’s first Yank vs Yank encounter on the field (putting aside the Yank in Molenbeek’s owner’s box) will not come until the last weekend of September when the boys from Westerlo travel to the Cegeka Arena.

Royal Antwerp vs Cercle Brugge

The Great Old will start their title defense on Sunday afternoon when the second team from Brugge, also known as Cercle Brugge, comes to town.

Sam Vines had seen very little playing time after his injury just before last year’s World Cup in Qatar but has been earning minutes in the pre-season and also took part in last weekend’s Super Cup, where Antwerp lifted that cup after a penalty shootout.

The Belgian champions have added winger Jacob Axel Per Ondrejka from Swedish side IF Elfsborg as well as French defender Nolan Gillot from US Orleans.

Vines’ first encounter with a fellow American will the game against Westerlo.

Sint-Truiden vs Standard Liege

Having missed out on both playoff groups last season, Marlon Fossey and les Rouches players should be well-rested as they go into the new season on the road against the Canaries of Sint-Truiden.

The Los Angeles born defender who holds both a British and American passport has been a stalwart for the team that plays its home games at the Maurice Defrasne Stadium on the Meuse River. He played in 26 games last season and netted on four occasions from his right back position.

The team have brought in Northern Irish international Isaac Price from Everton and Australian international from Melbourne City to bolster their midfield this season as they try to improve on last year’s position.

Fossey will see American opposition late-September when Westerlo comes to town.

The Pro League has changed its formatting yet again for the new season. The league has dropped from 18 teams to 16, as had been the case before the pandemic struck. This means that at the end of the regular 2023-24 season, instead of two groups of four teams each in the playoffs, there will once again be two groups of six competing for the championship and European places. The last six teams will also have a playoff series that will determine which teams will be relegated.

Yanks Abroad will be covering the league, as well as the cup games and the European competitions involving our boys in Belgium, so keep coming back to Yanks Abroad for the best Pro League coverage.


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, order online and pick it up and Barnes & Noble or get an e-copy at various outlets.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: