DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Four games into his first full season as a starter with FC Bayern's reserve team, American-born Fabian Hürzeler is giving it his all in what will be a crucial year for his future.
Even though he had made isolated cameos with the reserve team of the German giants in the previous season, the start of the 2012-13 term has seen the Houston-born Hürzeler firmly lock down a spot in the starting eleven.
This comes at a pivotal point in his career, as he is entering the final year of his current contract, and will potentially have a huge decision ahead of him heading into next summer.
"I still have a contract for this year, then we will see how it goes," Hürzeler told YA. "It is a dream for me to play for the first team of Bayern, but I know that is very difficult to be on the first team. "
"[After this season] I will evaluate if I have a chance," he continues, "and if I do, I will give 100%, if not, I will play for another team."
His most recent performance was a 90-minute shift against the reserve team of city rivals 1860 Munich, a game which ended up as a convincing 2-0 victory to the Reds.
"We were very focused in our play and were very motivated to win the game," he evaluated of the team's all-around performance. "Our first three games [this season] were not very good, so we tried to give 100% and we were successful."
"It was the best game we've played [this season] and now we have to go on like this and play every match like this."
Hürzeler particularly stood out as one of the more influential players on the field from his right midfield position, regularly pushing forward on the attack and having a hand in both of the team's goals.
In the 16th minute, he drew the foul in the penalty area which set up Bastian Fischer's opener from the spot, and midway through the second half, he set up German youth starlet Patrick Weihrauch for their second.
"It's a motivation to play against "Sechzig", and every time it's a special game," he added with a grin, "we are more motivated than for a normal game."
Hürzeler's Texan birth gave him the option to play within the US Soccer setup despite having previously suited up for Germany, and indeed his late-2010 announcement of an intended switch was seen as a major coup for then-head coach Thomas Rongen.
However after being forced to turn down the call a pair of friendlies in spring 2011 for academic reasons and with the eventual firing of Rongen following the failure of the U-20 team to qualify for the 2011 World Cup, he has fallen out of the picture.
He made a brief appearance in German colors late last year, playing 60 minutes with the U-19 team against Egypt in a substitute role, but does not see himself in the team's plans.
"I haven't told them I won't play anymore," he clarifies, "but it was the last [time] that I played and the German trainer hasn't called me back again."
He still remains completely open to once again donning the US uniform if current coach Tab Ramos gives him a call, and his regular appearances with the Bayern reserves combined with the progression of the current U-20 cycle towards next spring's World Cup qualification tournament could provide the opening.
"It was a nice time in the US, I really enjoyed it," he reiterates about his brief spell in 2011 with the team, adding "I don't have any contact with Klinsmann, but I'm open to both possibilities."
Nevertheless, Hürzeler is explicitly clear that any thoughts of national team play are a distant second to his current task at hand, which is giving every ounce of his effort to pushing ahead in this crucial contract year at Bayern.
"Right now, I'm concentrated on Bayern Munich and am not playing for a national team," he asserts, adding, "I think I don't need that at the moment."
With the team inspired by Sunday's derby win, Hürzeler is confident that they can use it as a catalyst to a strong season, and sees promotion back to the Germany's third tier - the level where they had been competing since 1978 before relegation in 2011 to the Regionalliga - as a realistic goal.
"We'll have to look at it one game at a time, but if we play like today, I think we have a good chance [for promotion]," he concluded.