Following FFF = Falkenbergs Fotbollförening and IFE = Idrottsföreningen Elfsborg

Swedish soccer's most famous product is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He started in Malmo and was a once in a generation talent. As such he moved onto the big stage of European soccer and has played in many top clubs. He is rumored to be moving next to Manchester United.

LA soccer fans have a connection to Sweden though the LA Galaxy that is owned by AEG. AEG is owner of the Swedish soccer team Hammarby. Hammarby has had limited success competitively but a very large and loyal fan base.

I follow my in-law's home town clubs Elfsborg and Falkenberg. Both clubs have interesting story lines that make it fun to follow.

Elfsborg has a record of periodically being in the hunt in the Allsvenskan the top league of Sweden. They have won the championship six times and finished second six times. The big club in Malmo (21 championships) and the big club in Gothenburg (13 championships) are the traditional powerhouses. However, the league is mid-tier in the scope of European and World soccer so the differences between the big market and smaller market clubs isn't as large as in US professional sports. Thus, teams from smaller cities have had opportunities to claim the top spot. For instance, last year's champion Norrkoping (13th championship) is from a comparatively small city of under 100,000 people.

Allsvenskan is a place where young talent (Zlatan being the most famous example) often gets groomed for eventual transfer to more heavily funded leagues in other parts of Europe and the world. Because of AEG's Swedish/Scandinavian connections, the LA Galaxy has been the recent home of some older players from Scandinavia like Mika Vayrynen (Finland) and Stefan Ishizaki (Sweden). And this year, youngster Emmanuel Boateng came to the Galaxy by way of Sweden. Boateng is from Ghana originally but has played in the USA for a couple of years before being in Sweden for three years.

Falkenberg's story is a dream come true for a small town (20,000 people) type of story. They play in the smallest stadium (5000 seating) in this year's Allsvenskan. As would be expected for a small town club, they played in the lower divisions most of their history. But in 2003, they got to the Superettan the 2nd tier of the Swedish soccer pyramid and in 2014 they debut in the Allsvenskan. The avoided relegation in 2014 by finishing 13th. They survived the relegation playoff in 2015 (finished 14th).

Unfortunately, this season has been very rough for Falkenberg as they are in 16th place. The season is 30 matches and after 11 they have a mere 4 points. The current 16 team Allvenskan has been in place since 2008. During that time, the 15th place team (automatic relegation for 15th and 16th place) has gotten anywhere from 21 to 29 points for the season. At the current pace, Falkenberg is looking at only getting 12 points. Likewise Gefle is in 15th place sitting at 5 points. The two clubs could potentially set a record for fewest points. Hammarby (as mentioned before, owned by AEG the Galaxy owners) is in 14th place with 10 points. Falkenberg need to jump over both Gefle and Hammarby to get to 14th place to qualify for the relegation playoffs.

I can't read Swedish so I can see broad trends like wins and losses. But for specific news, I rely on Google translate and since I only translate a few soccer articles here and there I can only see a small window of what is going on.

It appears that one of the bright stars at Falkenberg is Gustaf Nilsson. He played in a number of matches in the 2015 campaign to good effect and was part of the U19 national team. However, he is scheduled for a summer transfer to Brondby in the Danish league and a bigger payday. FFF had hoped they could have him for 12 matches before the transfer but in game number 5 he was injured in a match against Norrkoping and has been out since.

Next up for Falkenberg is a home match against Kalmar. FFF needs points and Kalmar is the type of lower end of the table club that could be beat. Go FFF!

Falkenberg supporters in the West Coast of the USA!

UPDATE: Fans of the team by the sea "Liget Vid Havet" went home disappointed after taking a 1-0 lead, they gave up two and went down to defeat to Kalmar. See the video highlights from CMore in the link. 

Next up for Elfsborg is a road game against defending champions Norrkoping. Norrkoping is number two in the table while Elfsborg is seventh. Last week, Elfsborg let a 3-1 lead slip away. Hopefully, this week they can pull off the upset and move up the table. The Allsvenskan news page has articles that contain the CMore match highlights video along with text report in Swedish that I read using Google translate.

Update: Elfsborg fought Norrkoping to a 0-0 draw. See the video highlights from CMore in the link. Take a close look at the replay of the Elfsborg scoring opportunity at the 83' mark. It looks like the ball got into the goal in slow motion. Of course, the referee has to call the game at normal speed and allowed play to continue saying it was not a goal.

Norrkoping manager Jan Andersson will be in charge of Sweden's national team at the Euro 2016 in the month of June, hence the "Tack Janne, Grattis Svierge" (Thank you Janne, Congratulations Sweden) banner at the end of the clip. Thus, Allsvenskan action will go to break until July. A handful of the league's players are part of the Euro 2016 squad.