PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Daniel Williams could line up with Fabian Johnson when Hoffenheim visits Mainz, while Steve Cherundolo and fourth-place Hannover will try to keep running with the big boys on their trip to Stuttgart.
FSV Mainz 05 - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Having joined new team Hoffenheim at the tail-end of the transfer window, Daniel Williams could join fellow German-American Fabian Johnson on the field on Saturday on their visit to FSV Mainz.
The addition of Williams in the final hours of the summer transfer window gave Hoffenheim a potentially-helpful boost for a defense that began to show its cracks in a loss to Werder Bremen in their last outing, while rescuing Williams from a troublesome situation at Freiburg that had seen him enter the team's doghouse due to a contract dispute.
He is the second German-American addition to the Hoffe in recent months, joining Munich-born Fabian Johnson who has already established himself as one of the team's key midfield components in the new season.
While coming off of a disappointing loss to the mighty Werder Bremen before the break, the Hoffe has nevertheless held their own in the opening weeks of league play, racking up six points from four games and still remaining within a single win of the Bundesliga's elite.
Mainz are coming off of a huge emotional boost in the form of a last-minute draw in their previous at unexpected Bundesliga heavyweights Hannover, and will hope to continue their momentum with the longer-term goal of showing that their fifth-place finish last season was no fluke.
Mainz have minor injury concerns, with just midfielder Florian Heller and striker Adam Szalai missing from the bench due to various injuries.
Hoffenheim are without striker Vedad Ibisevic due to a pulled muscle, and the midfield trio of Sejad Salihovic, Boris Vukcevic and Tobias Weis thanks to respective knee, calf and meniscus problems.
VfB Stuttgart - Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover seem to have picked up right where they left off last season, and will look to put pressure on the trio of big-name teams above them in the Bundesliga standings when they head southwest to Stuttgart on Saturday.
While still residing in fourth place behind Bayern, Schalke and Bremen, Hannover can nevertheless gloat about being the lone team left in the German top flight with an undefeated record through the first four games of play.
They were mere minutes away from holding the league's top spot two weeks before, however they wastefully conceded a late equalizer to a resilient Mainz team in front of a shocked home crowd, which allowed the trio of teams currently above them to slip by.
Atonement could come at the expense of Stuttgart, who are trying to prove that last season's near-disastrous struggle against relegation to the 2. Bundesliga was a mere fluke.
While hardly lighting the league afire, they have earned a respectable four points through four games, however a home loss to Hannover could have the fans restlessly wondering if they were in for yet another difficult ride.
Stuttgart are missing defender Georg Niedermeier to fitness issues and newcomer Julian Schieber who is working his way back to fitness from earlier injury issues.
Hannover have no pressing injury concerns, with only long-term absences Leon Andreasen and Carlitos still on the sidelines.
FC Cologne - FC Nürnberg
After playing both sides of the US defense during the international window, Timothy Chandler will be back at his usual starting right back position for Nürnberg on Sunday for their visit to FC Cologne.
Chandler took on a new role during his few days under the instruction of US National Team coach Jürgen Klinsmann, lining up for the first time at left back in their 1-0 loss against Belgium.
While making no glaring errors at the position, he will be back at his customary role on the right side of the defense on Sunday as they head to the western reaches of the country to face a potentially dangerous Cologne team.
The Billy Goats had spent the first three weeks of the season looking as almost sure-fire contenders to make the drop to the 2. Bundesliga, however stunned current Bundesliga bottom-trawlers Hamburger SV in their last game with two late goals to snatch their first win of the season.
Cologne are missing only midfielders Petit and Kevin Pezzoni to a respective ACL injury and viral infection.
For Nürnberg, the most crucial absence is still that of starting keeper Raphael Schäfer who is still several games away from full fitness. Additionally, defender Per Nillson is recovering from an Achilles operation, and midfielders Daniel Didavi and Mike Frantz are still working their way back to game fitness from injuries.
FC Union Berlin - FC Ingolstadt 04
Edson Buddle will likely be a bench option for Ingolstadt head coach Benno Möhlmann on Sunday when the Schanzer head north to pay a visit to FC Union Berlin.
Ingolstadt has finally shown some sign of life after failing to register a win in their first five. They completely dismantled promoted team Hansa Rostock by a 3-1 margin last week, a result which at least temporarily pulled them free from the drop zone.
They will try to make it two in a row on their visit to Germany's capital on Sunday, and should have no problems getting the offense moving against a Union team which is tied for the worst defensive record in the division.
The Berliners have only two major absences, as keeper Marcel Höttecke is out with a muscular problem and defender Daniel Göhlert is recovering after injuring his tailbone.
For Ingolstadt, the missing players are more substantial. Starting outside back Andreas Görlitz is out on red card suspension, new striker Ahmed Akaichi with a thigh pull, and the midfield is depleted with the absences of Caiuby, Leonhard Haas and Malte Metzelder with various injuries.
SV Babelsberg 03 - SpVgg Unterhaching
Amaechi Igwe should maintain his spot as starting left back for Babelsberg on Friday evening as they host their Bavarian visitors SpVgg Unterhaching.
Having now reached a streak of five games without a win and only tasting victory once in the season, Babelsberg are in desperate need of a win on Friday night.
They have been able to keep somewhat clear of the drop zone thanks to their ability to eek out draws, with four of their last five having ended with the team sharing the points with their opponents.
Recent results could indicate that they will be in for a rough ride against their Bavarian visitors Unterhaching, as they put up six goals against Jena in their last outing.
The one factor perhaps working firmly in the favor of Babelsberg is the fact that 'Haching have only picked up a single victory on the road this season, having themselves shown a penchant for the tied result away from home.
Babelsberg are without long-term injury concerns Christian Groß and Kofi Schulz, both due to ligament tears.
Unterhaching are missing a pair of defenders, with Jonas Hummels out with a torn ACL and Alexander Winkler with a pulled muscle.
SV Darmstadt 98 - Wacker Burghausen
Preston Zimmerman seems to have worked his way back into Darmstadt's plans, and could once again be called upon from the start when they host Wacker Burghausen on Saturday.
Darmstadt are still suffering the shock of riots which broke out amongst the traveling fans in their previous game at Erfurt, which left dozens of fans and police injured and both teams searching for answers.
The atmosphere will be tense on Saturday as the team takes the field for the first time since the incident, with the added pressure of the team beginning to see a downturn in fortunes.
They have gained only one point in their last two and are slowly falling through the standings, and need a result against Burghausen or risk falling close to the drop zone.
For Darmstadt, defenders Markus Brüdigam and Andreas Gaebler are absent with a knee injury and red card suspension while forward Oliver Heil is recovering from a broken elbow.
Burghausen are stiffer injury concerns; midfielders Markus Grübl and Matthias Heidrich are missing with a red card suspension and broken arm, and forwards Christoph Behr and Sebastian Glasner with respective rib and knee problems.
David Yelldell will watch from Leverkusen's bench as backup keeper on Friday when the team heads to Bavaria to visit Bundesliga newcomers FC Augsburg.
Alfredo Morales will hope to be called up to Hertha's bench on Saturday for the team's trip to reigning champions Borussia Dortmund.
Jermaine Jones will likely still be in Schalke's doghouse and will almost certainly not take the field on Sunday for their trip to visit VfL Wolfsburg, which will be a much-welcomed grudge match for several Schalke players against the new team of despised former coach Felix Magath.
Matt Taylor has been a little-used substitute as of late for Paderborn, and will hope to make it on the field as a second-half substitute when they host Alemannia Aachen on Friday evening.
Ricardo Clark has seen his stock drop as of late with Eintracht Frankfurt, and will hope to at least suit up on Saturday when they head east to visit promotion rivals Energie Cottbus.
Luis Robles will likely be on the Karlsruhe bench as backup keeper on Saturday afternoon when the team pays a visit to Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Bobby Wood is still awaiting his first appearance of the season for 1860 Munich, and will hope to be on the bench on Sunday when they visit FC St. Pauli.