LIVESTREAM FINLAND: Kuopio Steelers @ United Newland Crusaders, August 22, 15:30 CET (3:30 pm, 9:30 am ET)

The UNC Crusaders (1-5) make the trip to eastern Finland to visit the Kuopio Steelers (7-0) in this Maple League matchup.

The Steelers are eager to finish the regular season strong undefeated and beat the Crusaders today in front of their home fans. The Crusaders visit the Steelers aiming to measure themselves against the league’s top team.

The Crusaders made history last week as they defeated the Wasa Royals 28-24. The nail-biting victory earned the Crusaders their first-ever victory in Finland’s top American football league. The win not only made history but also but cemented their return to the Maple League in 2022 as the win eliminates them from possible relegation.

Kuopio Steelers @ United Newland Crusaders, August 22, 15:30 CET (3:30 pm, 9:30 am ET)

The Crusaders win was helped by the addition of five new players to the lineup. Offensively, newcomers Nolan Corpening and Cedric Johnson combined for 185 yards receiving giving the Crusaders a huge boost on offense. Expect veteran quarterback Robert Johnson to target his younger brother Cedric Johnson again along with Corpening and Irish receiver Finn Kearns today. Kam Harris is another player to watch as the physical running back can punish defenses on the ground for tough yards or catch passes out of the backfield.

Another new addition to the offense was kicker Kari Grönroos. 53-year-old Grönroos returned to the gridiron after more than 20 years away from the game. Grönroos is one of Finland’s most accomplished American football players as he was part of the Scottish Claymores of the World League of American Football (NFL Europe), along with several Helsinki Roosters and Finnish national teams in the late ’90s and early 2000s. The former NFL Europe star didn’t miss a beat, kicking four points for the Crusaders last week helping them make history in a close game.

Defensively, Hungarian Zoltan Golita made an impact in his debut for the Crusaders collecting four and a half tackles, along with two sacks and a forced fumble. Linebacker Michael Hall led the defense in that win as the veteran defender made two sacks and an interception. Expect Golita, Hall, and Karri Salonen to be focusing on stopping the Steelers rushing attack today.

The Steelers running game is the far and away best in the Maple League averaging an impressive 261 yards per game.  Le’Anthony Reasonover is the Steeler’s premier back and leads the league in rushing with 1,166 yards. However, veteran Tuuka Lehtonen has played well in his own right putting up 472 yards on the season. Look for Lehtonen to get the majority of the carries today as Steelers might preserve their MVP candidate Reasonover for the postseason. In the passing game, Joey Bradley has shown a strong command of the offense spreading the ball around to multiple receivers. Expect him to involve receivers Hannes Harju, Jeffrey Alexandre, and fullback Ville Lindsten today, along with slot receiver Isaac Marshall.

Defensively the Kuopio dominated last week holding the Butchers to well under 100 yards of offense. Edge defender Semmie Radji along with Ikeem Allen and Jani Lindqvist makes for a very tough defensive line for opposing offenses to handle. Expect these three to dominate today against a Crusaders offensive line that has struggled at times. Defensive backs Kenny Floret, Roni Laine, Eero Vaija, and Adel Bafdile match up well with the Crusaders‘ pass-happy offense. Expect the athletic defensive line and well-coached secondary to have success against an up and down Crusaders offense in today’s matchup.

The Steelers look to wrap up a dominant regular season with another victory on their home field. Fans can anticipate coach Utriainen to play his younger players and rest his veterans for the postseason as the Steelers have wrapped up the league’s number one seed. The Crusaders achieved their goal last week with an enormous win at home, now they visit Kuopio with nothing to lose as they look to make the most of their final two games of the season.

Watch the game live here: Kuopio Steelers @ United Newland Crusaders, August 22, 15:30 CET (3:30 pm, 9:30 am ET)

United Newland Crusaders Depth

Kuopio Steelers Depth

 

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