Two Americans featured in Thursday’s crucial Belgian First Division Championship play-offs action.
Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath made his first appearance since October, playing 90 minutes in Club Brugge’s come from behind 3-1 victory over Charleroi at the Stade du Pays de Charleroi. Kaveh Rezaei converted a penalty in the 18th minute, but Brugge received three second-half goals from Ruud Vormer, Hans Vanaken, and Jele Vossen to claim three points.
Brugge is in first place in the six-team playoff, ahead of Standard Liège by four points with two matches remaining. If they manage to beat either Gent or Genk, then they will qualify directly for the group stage of the 2018-2019 Champions League.
Very recently, Voetbal Nieuws reported that Horvath would exit the club during the summer, so it is interesting that he featured in such a crucial fixture. In fact, Brugge is looking to bring in fellow American keeper Alex Bono of Toronto FC as a replacement.
However, it appears that Horvath played well (or at least not disastrously poor enough to merit mention) and even contributed to the go-ahead goal in a roundabout way. According to Het Belang van Limburg (via Google Translate), “Horvath scored a cross from the home team from the air and started the counter attack with an unorthodox kickoff” which eventually found its way to Vanaken for the goal.
What does his shock inclusion in the squad mean for the 22-year old Colorado native? Is the door still open for him in Brugge (if you’ll pardon the pun) or was manager Ivan Leko merely giving him a chance to entice the interest of other clubs?
Also featuring on Thursday was U.S. national team attacker Kenny Saief who played 45 minutes in Anderlecht’s 3-1 loss to Standard Liège at the Constant Vanden Stock. Les Mauves et Blancs dropped into third place, which also (if results hold over the next two weeks) puts them in the next edition of the Europa League.
Saief, 24, is currently on loan from Gent. His contract expires this summer, but Anderlecht has the option to make his deal permanent at the end of the season.