PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
The Bundesliga season starts this weekend, with John Anthony Brooks receiving his first taste of top-division action.
Hertha Berlin - Eintracht Frankfurt
John Anthony Brooks will make his Bundesliga debut when Hertha Berlin hosts Frankfurt on Saturday.
After yo-yoing between the top two divisions in Germany for the past four seasons, Hertha is hoping that this year to break the trend and remain in the Bundesliga. The Old Lady has some cause to believe this could be the year, as the team ran away with the 2.Bundesliga title last season.
Last season's shock team, Frankfurt should be a good test for the newly promoted Berliners. Frankfurt returned to the Bundesliga for the 2012-2013 season after a one-year hiatus, and the Eagles finished in sixth place and the final Europa position, having been in the mix for a Champions League spot for much of the season.
Hertha will be without Maik Franz and Pierre-Michel Lasogga because of a red card suspension and an ankle injury, while Sonny Kittel is out for Frankfurt as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
FC Schalke 04 - Hamburger SV
Jermaine Jones and Schalke open up their Bundesliga season by hosting Hamburg on Sunday.
Schalke started off last season with its best start in 40 years, winning six of its first nine matches, but thanks in large part to a mid-season collapse, the Royal Blues had to claw their way into the Champions League picture late in the season. Despite these struggles, Schalke goes into the season slightly optimistic about its chances for a high finish because of the depth added during the offseason.
In the team's first full season under Thorsten Fink, Hamburg jumped up from being a relegation candidate to almost playing in Europe at the end of the 2012-2013 season. The Rote Hosen's goal is to make that jump into European competition.
Schalke will be without Kyriakos Papadopoulos as he continues to recover from a knee injury, while Hamburg will not have Johan Djourou with a groin injury, Michael Manncienne with an ankle injury and Ivo Ilicevic with an abductor injury.
Fortuna Düsseldorf - 1860 Munich
Bobby Wood leads Munich into a big match against Düsseldorf on Friday in an early season showdown between promotion candidates.
While looking to be the odd man out in the striker pool heading into the season, Wood has forced his way into the starting lineup the past two matches, helping to set up Moritz Stoppelkamp's goal in the Lions' win over Heidenheim in the first round of the DFB Pokal. He and the Lions are hoping to return to the Bundesliga for the first time since 2004.
Düsseldorf collapsed in the Rückrunde last season, which ended with the team being relegated on the final match of the season. The team has recorded four points through the first two matches of the 2.Bundesliga and is in prime to position to vault itself right up to the top of the standings with a win.
Munich will be without Kodjovi Koussou, Daniel Bierofka and Dominik Stahl because of a knee injury, an inflamed foot and a back injury, respectively. Martin Latka and Stelios Malezas will miss for Düsseldorf because of thigh and knee injuries.
FC Ingolstadt 04 - Karlsruher SC
Alfredo Morales will move from defensive midfield to right back for Ingolstadt when the team hosts Karlsruhe on Saturday.
The usual right back, Danny de Costa, received a yellow-red card in Ingolstadt's 3-1 loss to Ingolstadt last week, meaning coach Marco Kurz must find someone to fill in the hole. Morales, who returns to league action after receiving a straight red card in the Schanzer's season opener, has some experience playing the position and seems a good fit for the team.
Karlsruhe won the 3.Liga last season and earned promotion into the 2.Bundesliga. The team has enjoyed a solid start to life in the German second division, recording four points through two matches and not allowing a goal yet.
Along with de Costa, Andre Mijatovic, Malte Metzelder and Moritz Hartmann are out for Ingolstadt with a broken metatarsal bone, an ankle injury and a torn cruciate ligament, respectively. Karlsruhe will be without Dennis Kempe and Martin Stoll because of a thigh injury and abductor muscle problems.
Preußen Münster - Rot-Weiß Erfurt
Matt Taylor and Münster look to continue their hot start to the season against Erfurt on Saturday.
Taylor and the Eagles claimed another upset in the DFB Poakl last weekend, one year after beating Werder Bremen. The American forward scored the only goal of the match against St. Pauli last weekend, giving him two early in the season.
Erfurt has continued its good run of results from last season, when the team from central Germany collected 26 points in the Rückrunde to stay in the German third tier. Erfurt won its first two matches of the season and is currently in third place in the 3.Liga.
Münster will be without Robin Neupert and Kevin Schöneberg with a hip injury and a shin injury, while Erfurt is not reporting any significant injuries.
Having returned to full practice just this week, Fabian Johnson will hope to make Hoffenheim's bench in the opener against Timothy Chandler and Nuremberg on Saturday. Chandler could be relegated to the bench following an underwhelming performance in the team's 4-3 loss in penalty kicks to Sandhausen in the first round of the DFB Pokal.
Steve Cherundolo is unavailable for Hannover in the team's opener against Wolfsburg on Saturday, as he continues to recover from knee surgery.
Andrew Wooten should be a bench option for Kaiserslautern coach Franco Foda for the Red Devils' match against Greuther Fürth on Monday.
Royal-Dominique Fennell could make the Stuttgarter Kickers' bench for the first time in 2013 when they take on Holstein Kiel on Saturday in 3.Liga action.
Jerome Kiesewetter will hope to dress for Stuttgart II at Hansa Rostock on Sunday.