PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN CUP ACTION
German Cup pairings this weekend will give Steve Cherundolo and Michael Bradley the chance to get back into the swing of things after national team duty, as many other Americans look to make appearances for new clubs.
Erzgebirge Aue - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Michael Bradley will take his normal spot in midfield when Gladbach travel to Aue on Saturday.
The pre-season couldn't have gone much better for Borussia Mönchengladbach. The Bundesliga team has been creative on offense, stable on defense and new signee Mohamadou Idrissou has been hitting the back of the net like it was going out of style.
Bradley is quickly turning into the force in American soccer. Like him or hate him, he was solid in this past year's World Cup and has been targeted by some of the best clubs in the world ever since. He and the Foals will face their first real test when they meet up with second league club Ergebirge Aue – one of the toughest first round draws in this year's German Cup.
Gladbach will be without their newly-signed forward Igor de Camargo, who is still out with an ankle injury. Midfielder Marco Reus and forward Raul Bobadilla will be game-day decisions.
Aue will be without their team captain Tomasz Kos, who is recovering from a groin injury. Forward Enrico Kern and midfielder Patrick Milchraum are also unavailable for the game.
SV Elversberg - Hannover 96
Defender Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 will try to get their season off to a good start when they travel to SV Elversberg in their first-round German Cup game on Saturday.
After barely making it by relegation last year, Hannover will be looking to set the right tone for the upcoming season with a win. Newly appointed captain Cherundolo will definitely be in the mix following his quick trip to the US for national team duty.
Hannover has been plagued by injuries in the past two years, something that affected Cherundolo last season as well. And while head coach Mirko Slomka has yet to find the right formation for his players, he will be happy that his complete roster offers him so many options.
Fourth league SV Eleversberg will be looking to appease its home crowd, but will be without forward Alexander Karapetian.
SV Wilhelmshaven - Eintracht Frankfurt
Ricardo Clark will look for playing time in midfield when Frankfurt travels to fourth-league SV Wilhelmshaven on Friday for their first-round German Cup game.
The first "real" game of the season will likely reflect Eintracht Frankfurt's desired first team. And while nothing is ever set in stone, reports in the German media have said that midfielder Ricardo Clark will be starting from the bench with the preferred duo of Pirmin Schwegler and Alexander Meier starting in center midfield.
It will be a difficult test for the small, fourth league club, but Wilhelmshaven's head coach Wolfgang Steinbach has said that his team won't be bunkering with ten men behind the ball. The team will only be without forward Dennis Rommel who is out with a knee injury.
Eintracht will go into the game with just two absentees. Defender Chris has just started training after a groin operation and Aleksandar Vasoski is still struggling to get back to full strength after a knee operation.
VfR Aalen - FC Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones and Schalke 04 will travel to Aalen for their first round match-up against the third-leaguers on Monday.
Jones will be looking to take the next step in his recovery process by taking the field for his first official match in more than a year. The midfielder wasn't cleared to play for the national team this past week as head coach Felix Magath wasn't convinced that Jones was fit, leaving questions as to whether he will play on Monday.
Schalke has had a vigorous pre-season schedule where Magath has tried to integrate a range of new signings, two of which - Raul and Christoph Metzelder - came from Real Madrid. The new signings and an overall change of the old guard have also given Magath the opportunity to experiment with new formations. The team will most likely be without midfielders Tim Hoogland and Vasileios Pliatsikas.
Aalen has just been promoted from the fourth league and head coach Rainer Scharinger has put his faith in young, developing players. The coach has added 14 new players to the squad with an average age of 20, all of whom have come from lower leagues, striking a stark dichotomy with Schalke's experience.
FC Ingolstadt 04 - Karlsruher SC
Newly signed goalkeeper Luis Robles will be looking for his first start when Karlsruher SC travel to FC Ingolstadt on Friday. American defender Amaechi Igwe will miss the match due to a knee injury he suffered last week.
After just completing his long-awaited move from Kaiserslautern to Karlsruher SC, Robles is in a three goalkeeper race for the starting position. It still isn't clear if it will be the 26-year-old American, Kristian Nicht or Jean-Francois Kornetzky, but starter on Friday will most likely be the starter for the season opener next week.
Both Ingolstadt and KSC will be playing in the second league this season and both have to deal with a long list of injuries. Ingolstadt will only have 17 field players to choose from. In addition to Igwe, the team will be without midfielders Manuel Hartmann and Fabian Gerber, defenders Ronald Gercaliu and Patrick Mölzl and forward Sebastian Hofmann.
Karlsruher will be without forward Christian Timm, midfielders Massimilian Porcello and Michael Mutzel and defender Matthias Langkamp.
After a strong pre-season, defender Daniel Williams will be hoping to see some playing time when FC Freiburg travel to FC Oberneuland on Saturday.
Kenny Cooper won't be traveling with 1860 Munich as they take on SC Verl. The forward is out with a broken ankle and won't be available until October.
David Yeldell will most likely start on the bench for MSV Duisburg when they travel to fourth-league VfB Lübeck on Friday. The goalkeeper just returned to full training with the team this past week and has to regain match fitness before he is considered for the starting position.