U.S. national team forward Aron Johannsson, right, will play against Benfica in the Europa League quarterfinals. (Patrick Post/AP)
U.S. national team forward Aron Johannsson will get a crack at one of Europe's most successful clubs in the UEFA Europa League quarterfinals.
Johannsson's AZ Alkmaar drew Portuguese giant Benfica in the competition's quarterfinals Friday after both clubs polished off round-of-16 triumphs on Thursday. Benfica, which has two European championships, five runner-up medals and a Portuguese-record 32 domestic championships to its name, features a few players that Johannsson could see on June 22, when the USA plays Portugal in the second Group G match of the World Cup.
AZ advanced by Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala on the strength of a Johannsson penalty kick in the first leg, with the two sides playing to a scoreless draw in Thursday's second leg.
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As for the other Europa League pairings:
The other Portuguese team remaining, Porto, will play against Spain's Sevilla; Juventus drew Lyon in a matchup of historically strong clubs; and Basel will play Valencia.
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The first legs are slated for April 3, with the second legs taking place April 10. This year's final is in Torino, which would provide Juventus a huge home advantage if the Serie A-leading club can make it to the title game.