While the MLS season is accelerating toward the final few weeks of the campaign, over in Europe things are just beginning to get going, which means it’s as good a time as any to catch up on absent friends.
Cole Bassett, recently recalled from his loan spell with Dutch giants Feyenoord and loaned out to Eredivisie rivals Fortuna Sittard, the 21-year-old made his debut on Saturday at home to Cambuur.
Bassett entered the match for Paul Gladon on the hour mark, with the score at 1-1. Sadly, Fortuna gave up three goals inside the final 11 minutes to lose 4-1. Bassett will be keen to settle swiftly to help his new team, which has suffered three straight defeats to start the season, having previously lost to Ajax and FC Twente.
A little note on Gladon, the player Bassett replaced for his debut. He made three appearances for Wolverhampton Wanderers in September 2016. Rapids skipper Jack Price, a Wolves teammate, was on the field for one of them, a 2-0 loss at Newcastle in the League Cup (Price came on for former Rapids striker Joe Mason). Price was an unused sub in one of Gladon’s two Championship appearances, a 1-1 draw with Burton Albion.
Fortuna’s next match is at Heerenveen on Saturday. Heerenveen grabbed their first win of the season this past weekend with a 4-0 victory at Vitesse. They are unbeaten after three games, and yet to concede a goal, having enjoyed goalless draws at Feyenoord and home to Sparta Rotterdam.
Auston Trusty has five Championship appearances to his name with Birmingham City, as well as Carabao Cup experience. He is on loan from Arsenal for the 2022-23 season.
With five games gone, Birmingham find themselves 19th out of 24 in England’s second tier, though only three points off of fifth-placed Sunderland. It’s early days.
Trusty’s debut came in a 0-0 draw at Luton Town at the end of July. Luton finished sixth last season. That was followed with a 2-1 home win over Huddersfield Town, who were third last time out and beaten by Nottingham Forest in the Championship Playoff Final.
Next up was a penalty shootout loss at Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Birmingham conceded twice in first half stoppage time before striking back with two of their own in the second half. The Canaries went through after winning the shootout 4-2. The winning penalty was converted by US international Josh Sargent.
All games have been close for Birmingham. They have lost 1-0 to both Cardiff City and Wigan, either side of a 1-1 draw at home to Watford. Their next outing is a trip to Rotherham United on Saturday.
Finally to Belgium, and the early season update on Sam Vines at Royal Antwerp. They have a new head coach in Bayern Munich and Netherlands legend Mark van Bommel. He works alongside their technical director, who is Marc Overmars, a former star of Ajax, Arsenal, and Barcelona, and national teammate of van Bommel’s.
The Antwerp squad has been strengthened with the arrival of former Tottenham Hotspur players Toby Alderweireld and Vincent Janssen, and the team has got off to a flying start after finishing fourth last season in the Jupiler league.
They have played four, won four in the league, and on Thursday play the home leg of the UEFA Europa Conference League fourth qualifying round. They drew 1-1 at Turkish club Istanbul Başakşehir in the away leg, having already defeated teams from Kosovo and Norway in previous rounds.
Of the eight matches in league and UEFA competition, Vines has featured in all eight, starting seven. His cross last Thursday found the head of teammate Dinis Almeida for an 89th minute equalizer in European competition.
Early signs are good for Vines, who spent this past weekend in Paris as Antwerp were without a game. Understandably there was a period of adjustment last season but the left-back appears to be enjoying life under van Bommel.
Antwerp’s 100 per cent start to the league season will be tested on Sunday when they go to leaders Genk. Genk top the table with four wins from five games but are ahead of Antwerp on goal difference only.
And if Vines and Co can progress on Thursday in the Europa Conference League, then they will be in Friday’s draw for the group stage. Set your alarms, as the draw is at 6.30am MT.