Bruno Fahy/Belga/Imago

Belgian Recap: Slonina’s Debut A Baptism by Fire

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Round three of the Belgian Pro League is done and dusted. A couple of Yanks saw no action at all, while two others tasted defeat.

Eupen 0 – 5 Club Brugge

It was not the kind of start that young American keeper Gabriel Slonina would have expected when he suited up for Eupen on Sunday for the first time. After a very early penalty converted by Andreas Skov Olsen, the floodgates opened and the visitors found themselves up 3-0 at the half. They added two more in the second half to add insult to injury, leaving both Eupen and their new arrival shell-shocked.

After just a few minutes of play, Lambert knocked Vanaken over in the box and the referee rightly points to the spot. The Dane places the ball on the spot and easily puts it past the American between the sticks for a sixth-minute lead.

Six minutes later Skov Olsen sent a half-decent cross into the box but Slonina read it and comes out to claim the ball. But five minutes later, the Chelsea loanee is picking the ball out of the back of his net. This time it was Club’s other Dane, Phillip Zinckernagel scoring the first of his brace on the day.

Eupen had a good chance at getting back into the game just before the half-hour mark but Simon Mignolet was up to the task and pushed Isaac Nuhu’s shot away from goal and against the post. But instead of a one-goal lead, Tajon Buchanan finds himself all alone on a corner kick and easily slots the ball into the back of the net, theoretically putting the game to bed with the Canadian striker’s first goal of the season.

On the hour mark Maxim De Kuyper thought he scored only to see the shot deflected behind the goal. The ensuing corner was better however and the Brugge Boys make it 4-0 from that free kick when Skov Olsen did it again, hitting the ball first time to give the American teenager no chance at a save. This ball hit the back of the net in the 62nd minute and four minutes later the other Dane hit the fifth and final net-bender to give the visitors an emphatic victory and handing Eupen their first loss of the season.

To be fair to the 19-year-old keeper, he started his time in Belgium against one of the league’s strongest teams and perhaps would have been better off given a week to settle into the team but the team’s other keeper, Abdul Nurudeen, had been under-performing as of late, which was the reason why Eupen went after the American.

Next up will be a trip to Kortrijk on Sunday afternoon. The Kerels had a bit of a howler themselves, losing 6-0 to Royal Antwerp, and are in last place with no points after three games.

Westerlo 1 – 3 Gent

It was a very good first half for Westerlo, especially after taking a very early lead but in the end, the Buffaloes of Gent were the better team and hit the back of the net thrice to claim all the points and put themselves in joint first place with USG. Bryan Reynolds went the distance in his right back position but Griffin Yow was nowhere to be found, having not been named to the game day squad.

In the 15th minute of play, Matija Frigan’s header is deflected by Jordan Torunarigha’s arm and the referee rightly points to the spot. Nicholas Madsen sent the keeper the wrong way and Westerlo took the lead.

The lead lasted around 15 minutes until a corner kick ended up in the back of the net. Hyun-Seok Hong floated the ball into the box and Tsuyoshi Watanabe used his head to score his first Gent goal, having come over from Kortrijk recently.

Pietro Perdichizzi must still be kicking himself because he should have given Westerlo the lead in the 50th minute of play. From a corner kick, the Belgian defender is completely alone when he gets the ball in the box. It was harder NOT to score than put the ball over the line, but the 30-year-old give Paul Nardi a gift and the French keeper sweeps the ball out of harm’s way with his leg. Instead on the hour mark Hugo Cuypers was celebrating his first goal of the game. Fourteen minutes later, he would be celebrating his second of the game, this one from the penalty spot. And that’s how it ended.

Things aren’t going to get easier for Reynolds and his teammates because they’ll be heading to Brussels to take on a very much revitalized Anderlecht, who have one of their last two games after a disappointing opener.

Sporting Charleroi 1 – 1 Standard Liege

Marlon Fossey went the distance for les Rouches in this Battle of Wallonia that ended in a stalemate at the Stade du Pays de Charleroi on Sunday evening. After their first-half goal by Denis Drăguş, you could forgive the traveling fans for celebrating as the assistant referee put up the board showing six minutes of extra time to be played, but the Zebras still had some gas left in their tanks and snatched a point from the penalty spot in the 91st minute of play.

The opener came in the 31st minute when against the run of play and their first real shout at goal when Fossey sends in a deep ball to Wilfred Kanga. The Ivorian then picks out his Romanian teammate who beats Herve Koffi between the posts.

The late equalizing penalty was one that the referee missed completely but VAR called him to the monitor and he clearly saw the shirt tug in the box, thus pointing to the spot. Marco Ilaimaharitra from Madagascar did the honors. Five minutes later he was shown a straight red card.

Standard will lick their wounds and look forward to the weekend when they host Cercle Brugge.


Mark McKenzie spent Genk’s 1-0 victory against Cercle Brugge on the bench on Sunday afternoon in anticipation of a crucial European game midweek. With a few other key players also rested, the Smurfs had to depend on luck and the Cercle keeper, Warleson who was responsible for the own goal that gifted the visitors three points. This was their second win of the season and more importantly, it allows Genk to return to Europe on a positive note.

Their trip to Athens last week didn’t go to plan, as they lost to Olympiakos by a 1-0 score. Next up is the home leg on Thursday night before they return to league action and host Sporting Charleroi on Sunday afternoon

Royal Antwerp crushed Kortrijk by a 6-0 score line, however, Sam Vines had nothing to do with it since he wasn’t even named to the bench after featuring against Anderlecht last weekend. Hopefully, he’ll be back on the team sheet and on the field on Friday night when the champions travel to take on OH Leuven.

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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.

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