LIVESTREAM Finland: Helsinki Roosters @ United Newland Crusaders, July 15, 17:30 CET (5:30 pm, 11:30 am ET)

The UNC Crusaders (0-2) will host the Helsinki Roosters (3-0) in this Thursday night Maple League football matchup in Finland.

The Crusaders are eager to get their first win of the season after two razor thin losses to start the season. The visiting Roosters will have to put their undefeated record on the line as they travel to hostile territory in this one.

Count on the Crusaders to play well at home tonight. Their offense features Finnish American football veteran Robert Johnson. The experienced Texas Tech (NCAA D1) product will rely on receivers Finn Kearns and Jonelle Tolbert on the outside. In the running game, Johnson can hopes for another big game from powerful Kam Harris who has run for 200 yards through two games and found the endzone five times already.

Helsinki Roosters @ United Newland Crusaders, July 15, 17:30 CET (5:30 pm, 11:30 am ET)

Defensively, the Crusaders look to cause turnovers and contain a skilled group of Helsinki playmakers. Linebackers Michael Hall and Daniel Szatmari will need to play well as the Helsinki backfield is stacked with talent. The Crusaders have lacked in the pass rushing department as they’ve failed to get consistent pressure on passers this season. Expect Helsinki to air it out tonight behind their experienced offensive line. Helsinki’s 39-35 win over Porvoo last week indicates a Roosters offensive powerhouse. However, the Roosters offense sputtered as three interceptions and two lost fumbles almost cost them the game. Instead, it was special teams that saved the day as American International College (NCAA D2) product Lorenzo Melchiore scored a punt return and two kick return touchdowns.

Melchiore’s big day wasn’t over as he scored a rushing touchdown as well. The special teams dynamo finished the game with an eye popping 346 all purpose yards and four touchdowns. Don’t expect the Crusaders to be kicking to Finland’s best returner tonight.   Defensively, the Roosters were aided by the return of veteran linebacker Santtu Äyräväinen. The 37-year-old originally decided to retire in January after a legendary 18-year career with 11 championships and 500 tackles. Look for the veteran to play much better in his return to the field today as begins his comeback. Äyräväinen and linebacker Roni Salonen make a tough duo to run against for the Crusaders. Expect UNC quarterback Robert Johnson to audible to short passes often tonight to avoid running to this physical defensive front seven.

On Monday, the Roosters announced three key additions to their roster including former University of Minnesota (NCAA D1 BIG10) receiver Rashad Still. Still is a massive red zone threat at 6’5″ 220 pounds. The veteran pro has had success in the Arena League, Poland, and just wrapped up a season in Hungary where he helped the Fehérvár Enthroners all the way to the title game. The move should help Lorenzo Melchiore be able to focus on defense instead of playing both ways and special teams.

The second addition is Swedish national team linebacker Filip Jönsson. Jönsson comes to Helsinki after winning a championship with the Orebro Black Knights, where he played both fullback and linebacker. However, he won’t arrive until July 30th. The third addition announced is Finnish National team defensive back Viljo Lempinen who is returning to the Roosters after playing a spring season at New Mexico Military Institute (Junior College) where he made 12 tackles and three interceptions in only six games. Look for young 6’2 defender to bolster this Helsinki secondary.

Tonight is a fantastic opportunity for the Roosters to show that they are still one of Finland’s top teams. Roosters fans hope that the Miro Kadmiry led offense can respond tonight and take care of the ball against this UNC team in Lohja. Meanwhile the Kam Harris and Crusaders look to make the right adjustments to pull off the upset and shake up the Maple League.

Watch the game live here. Helsinki Roosters @ United Newland Crusaders, July 15, 17:30 CET (5:30 pm, 11:30 am ET)

United Newland Crusaders Depth/Roster

 

Helsinki Roosters Depth/Roster

 

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football