RIGA - After a long summer recess due to the 2004 European Championship in Portugal, the Latvian Soccer Federation season is back to business. And, surprisingly, the league is looking a little topsy-turvy at the midway point.
FHK Liepajas Metalurgs is currently sitting undefeated on top of the leader board with 38 points from 16 games, followed by FK Ventspils, which has 33 points from 16 games.
It looks like last season's league champions Skonto FC are too focused on trying to qualify for the UEFA Champions League in order to worry about such trifles as winning a 14th consecutive league title. Skonto is currently in third place with 32 points, having last played on July 17, when it beat FK Auda 2-0 in a decidedly unimpressive fashion. But Skonto has only played 13 games due to its Champions League commitments and is still comfortably within reach of the top spot.
Moving our way down the standings, the two teams from Daugavpils, both the established FC Dinaburg and newcomer SK Ditton, are battling it out for forth place and local bragging rights. But since they have only 22 and 19 points respectively, it doesn't seem likely that either of them will do any better than fourth place.
But SK Ditton has been one of the surprise packages this season. It thrashed last placed FK Auda 4-0 when they met on July 30, which was no mean feat if you consider that Ditton played with 10 men for the entire game. But no one was sent off or injured. Bizarre as it may seem, Ditton showed up for the game with just 10 men.
Bringing up the bottom of the table are the other Riga area teams. FK Riga is in sixth place with 16 points, followed by FK Jurmala which had been tipped to break into the top three this season. But a series of rough games and several injuries have left Jurmala just above last placed FK Auda, which hasn't won a single game all season.
The next round of league games will resume on Aug. 12, following the quarterfinals of the Latvian Cup, which will be held Aug. 8. The Latvian Cup has gone to form with all of the topflight teams having beaten the minor league sides to make it to the quarterfinals. All eight teams will now compete for the Latvian Cup in what is basically a mirror of the league. The Latvian Cup fixtures are as follows:
FK Ventspils - FC Dinaburg
FK Riga - FHK Liepajas Metalurgs
FK Jurmala - Skonto FC
FK Auda - SK Ditton in Riga.
All the games are at 6 p.m., except for FK Auda--SK Ditton, which starts at 4 p.m.