DAVID SMITH - Friday, September 24, 2010
Jermaine Jones and Schalke look to continue their turnaround against Michael Bradley's Foals while Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will try to help Kaiserslautern continue their slide down the standings.
FC Schalke 04 - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Having finally passed the hurdle of gaining their first win of the season in midweek action, Jermaine Jones and Schalke will do their best to make it two in a row on Saturday when they host Michael Bradley and struggling Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Schalke's four-loss start to the season had the team in crisis mode heading into Wednesday's game in Freiburg, and while the 2-1 win doesn't necessarily indicate that all their problems are solved, it does give them some measure of momentum against a Foals squad that has seen their fortunes take a major downturn in recent weeks.
Gladbach had looked to be a team on the rise after their remarkable 6-3 win over Leverkusen in the season's second game, however three straight losses in the time since including a humiliating seven-goal blowout at the hands of Stuttgart now has them questioning what they need to do to get back on track.
Schalke coach Felix Magath will be without defender Tim Hoogland who is out with a knee problem, but otherwise has a full squad.
Gladbach has several players missing, most notably defender Dante who has a foot injury. In addition, striker Mohamadou Idrissou is suspended for his red card in midweek action, fellow frontline partner Igor de Camargo has an ankle problem, defender Christian Dorda is out with an injury to his patella and Tony Jantschke is recovering from a broken foot.
Eintracht Frankfurt - FC Nürnberg
After featuring for the final minutes of Frankfurt's frustrating last-second loss to Bayer Leverkusen in midweek, Ricardo Clark will hope to get more time on the field on Saturday when they host Nürnberg.
A last-second penalty robbed Frankfurt of what had appeared to be a hard-fought point, leaving them entrenched in the league's bottom three and needing massive improvements in their play if they hope to avoid slipping into relegation battle.
While being far from spectacular with only one win in their first five games, their opponents Nürnberg have shown both consistency and improvement, racking up recent draws against Hamburg and Leverkusen, and beating Stuttgart in midweek.
They will be lacking defender Andreas Wolf to a card suspension as well as forward Albert Bunjaku as he recovers from a knee operation.
Frankfurt will make do without the suspended defender Patrick Ochs as well as a number of other players fighting health issues. Defender Aleksandar Vasoski is recovering from a knee problem, midfielder Zlatan Bajramovic from an Achilles strain and both Sebasian Rode and Martin Fenin are also missing with various injuries.
FC Kaiserslautern - Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo and DaMarcus Beasley will try to keep Hannover's momentum flying on Sunday afternoon when they head south to take on struggling Kaiserslautern.
Hannover continued their hot start to the season with Tuesday's shocking 4-1 win over Bremen, in a game that showed the team firing in all cylinders.
While few expect the team to hold their current fourth-place standing through the end of the season, they are hopeful that they can avoid the relegation fight of the previous season and find the consistency to stay in the upper half of the league standings.
Kaiserslautern came out of the gates flying with a pair of impressive victories - including a shocker over reigning champions Bayern - to open the season, but have fallen on hard times in the weeks since, picking up one lonely point in their last three games.
They will benefit to having no major problems on the injury front, missing only periphery players Jan Simunek to a groin problem, Chadli Amri with a knee injury and Steven Rivic to a flu bug.
Hannover coach Mirko Slomka will make do without defender Mario Eggimann plus midfielders Leon Andreasen and Altin Lala, as all three are working their way back to fitness after injuries. Additionally, midfielder Carlitos is out for an extended period with an ACL tear.
FC Union Berlin - MSV Duisburg
Duisburg keeper David Yelldell will look to do his part to help his team back to the top of the standings on Sunday when Union Berlin come for a visit.
The Zebras took out previous league leaders Augsburg during the week with a close 1-0 victory driven by a fine defensive effort, and will expect that the struggling Berlin club will give them a clear path to three more points.
Union are looking as early favorites for a drop down to the 3. Liga, as they have yet to notch up a victory through five games and have only two points to show for their troubles.
They will be hard pressed to get their first win of the season on the road against one of the likely candidates to make the jump to the 1. Bundesliga, and will be hampered without defender Bernd Rauw who is out through a knee injury and striker Kenan Sahin as he recovers from a foot problem.
Duisburg are relatively fortunate on the injury front, missing just defender Kevin Grund as he gets back to health after knee surgery and midfielder Adam Bodzek who is still working to regain fitness.
Rot Weiss Ahlen - Dynamo Dresden
Matt Taylor will look to add to his goal tally on Friday evening when Rot Weiss Ahlen host Dynamo Dresden in the Wersestadion.
Ahlen managed to score their first league victory of the season last weekend in grand fashion, putting three goals - two by Taylor - past Jena to climb out of the relegation zone. They slipped in midweek play, however, coming away from their game in Heidenheim having been on the other end of the same scoreline.
They will need to get back to their stronger play from last weekend should they hope to get past Dresden, who are solid, if unspectacular in league play so far.
They have an even split through nine games with three each of wins, draws and losses, and are currently ninth in the standings.
Daniel Williams will hope to see minutes when Freiburg visit Wolfsburg on Sunday action.
Luis Robles will likely watch from the bench as Karlsruher SC try to prevent another blowout on Friday when they welcome FSV Frankfurt.
Amaechi Igwe is still recovering from a meniscus injury and will not participate on Saturday when Ingolstadt travel to Fürth
Kenny Cooper is out with a broken ankle and will not suit up for 1860's short trip down the road to Augsburg.