DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, May 24, 2016
The German promotion/relegation playoffs went as well as possible for the two participating Americans, with Timothy Chandler and Royal-Dominique Fennell both on the winning side of the two-legged ties.
Nürnberg 0 - 1 Frankfurt (agg. 1-2)
Timmy Chandler earned the start in Frankfurt's defense in their most important game of the season, helping them to shut down promotion hopefuls Nürnberg to secure the vital win which keeps them in the Bundesliga.
Chandler started and played 69 minutes at right back for the visitors, before leaving the game with an apparent muscle pull minutes after the team's go-ahead goal.
With the onus on Frankfurt to score, both teams had close calls throughout the first hour of play, although with the visitors maintaining a more sustained dominance of possession and pressure.
They were finally rewarded for their efforts six mintes past the hour, as Mijat Gacinovic weaved into the left side of the area and hit a short cross towards center that Haris Seferovic poked over the line.
Barely three minutes after the go-ahead goal, Chandler was forced to leave the field of play with an apparent muscle strain, with Aleksandar Ignjovski providing cover for the final 21 minutes.
Nürnberg fearlessly pushed forward for the final minutes, hoping to overcome the obvious gulf in quality for an equalizer that would push the game into extra time.
Despite Frankfurt increasingly and unnecessarily resorting to blatant time-wasting tactics as the closing whistle drew close, Nürnberg never managed to seem more threatening than a pup practicing its first growls, with the referee's whistle finally confirming the status quo for both sides.
The victory sends Frankfurt into the summer on an artificial high-note, maintaining their seat at the adult's table but still leaving team management to address the many problems which forced them into this unenviable position.
Duisburg 1 - 2 Würzburg (agg. 1-4)
Royal-Dominique Fennell and Würzburg earned a spot in Germany's second level for the first time in nearly 40 years, making easy work of their 2nd Bundesliga hosts Duisburg.
Fennell once again lined up in Würzburg's central defense for the entirety of the game, earning a yellow card midway through the second half.
With the visiting 3rd Liga side holding a 2-0 first-leg lead heading into the game, Duisburg were gifted a goal from their visitors when Würzburg central defender Clemens Schoppenhauer headed a ball into his own net while trying to defend a cross from Giorgi Chanturia.
The narrow one-goal advantage lasted for just four minutes, after Elia Soriano buried his shot from near the penalty spot after a fine pass from Richard Weil.
The goal effectively left Duisburg needing three goals to win the tie thanks to away goals, however without any ideas to break down the dominant Würzburg defense, their chances became increasingly bleak as the close of play drew near.
Duisburg's Victor Obinna saw straight red from referee Tobias Stieler after his remonstrations for what he opined was a penalty against the visitors crossed the line to open insults.
With the result in little doubt, Rico Benatelli put an exclamation point on the win in the final seconds of added time, aiming an 18-yard shot from center in the left corner for the final 2-1 win.
Würzburg come away with an aggregate 4-1 advantage, and will therefore join fellow 3rd Liga promotees Dynamo Dresden and Erzgebirge Aue in the 2nd Bundesliga in the new season.