SCOTT PETERSON - Thursday, February 9, 2012
Joe Gyau made his pro debut while Daniel Williams and Fabian Johnson both started for Hoffenheim but the American trio could not stop Hoffenheim's slide as they crashed out of the German Cup to Greuther Fürth.
Head coach Holger Stanislavski made three changes to his squad over his lineup from last week's disappointing home tie against Augsburg, leaving both Dutch striker Ryan Babel and Bosnian midfield maestro Sejad Salihovic on the bench. Williams and Johnson, however, were included once again.
Hoffenheim started brightly, combining well and controlling the run of play, but failed to create anything more than a couple of half chances - the best of the lot coming in the 24th minute, but Peniel Mlapa's left-footed shot from 8 yards out was beaten away by keeper Max Grün.
In the 27th minute, the guests from Franconia fired their first warning shot as Canadian striker Oliver Occean capped of a set of fine diagonal passes through the Hoffenheim defense with a right-footed shot that was struck well by hit right at Hoffenheim netminder Tom Starke.
Hoffenheim was reduced to ten men in the 36th minute, when central defender Marvin Commper was shown a straight red card after he took a swipe at Fürth midfielder Robert Zilner.
A minute before the break, Occean expertly pulled down a long-ball in the box with his right boot, cutting back across the defense and then beating Starke for the 1-0 score with his left.
Stanislavski exhausted his offensive resources in search of an equalizer, bringing on Babel in the 64th minute, Gyau in the 79th and Salihovic in the 83rd. But it was not to be as the hosts failed to generate any clear-cut chance in the second 45 and deservedly were sent packing in the quarter finals of the German Cup.
Next up for Hoffenheim's trio of Americans is a Saturday trip to Bremen.