RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
It was an eventful and highly successful week for Americans in the German top-flight, with Steve Cherundolo, Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams all victorious.
Hannover 96 2 - 1 FC Bayern Munich
Captain Steve Cherundolo had an eventful game for his Hanover squad, as he was involved in the opening goal, before being sent off late for a second bookable offense in the weekend's marquee matchup against first-place Bayern.
The highly anticipated match did not disappoint as both teams attempted to pin the other back in their own half; Hanover employed quick, incisive counter-attacking moves, while Munich moved forward slowly with patient build-up play, predominantly over both wings.
Cherundolo and striker Lars Stindl displayed some fine one-touch passing, with the latter playing the former into the box. Cherundolo controlled, looked up and as he was about to make his move was brought down by Munich captain Phillip Lahm.
Mohammed Abdelloue stepped up to the spot and converted coolly past Manuel Neuer for the 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
It was the first goal that Munich had conceded since the first game of the season - a total of 770 goalless minutes.
Things got heated 5 minutes later, after Hanover midfielder Sergio Pinto was fouled by Rafinha a tussle ensued on the sidelines. Munich's central defender Jerome Boateng was adjudged to have engaged in unsportsmanlike conduct, and was sent off by referee Manuel Gräfe.
Neither team, however, changed any tactics and continued to play attractive attacking soccer in a highly-charged atmosphere. In the 33rd minute, Cherundolo himself was cautioned for sliding into Bastian Schweinsteiger from behind.
In the 50th minute Hanover doubled their lead as Christian Pander's shot from 22 yards took a wicked deflection and rolled into the back of the net.
In the 63rd minute, Hanover was reduced to 10 men after Cherundolo tugged on Franck Ribery's jersey, bringing him down.
With just seven minutes to go, Munich finally pulled one back as substitute David Alaba pounced on a loose ball in the box to make it 2-1. But there were no last minute heroics for Munich, as Hanover held on for the victory.
The win leaves Hanover in 4th place with 18 points, just four back of Munich. Hannover has double duty this week as they first take on Mainz in the German cup on Wednesday, before travelling to Gladbach on Saturday.
1899 Hoffenheim 1 - 0 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Daniel Williams got his third start in a row and Fabian Johnson returned to the starting lineup as Hoffenheim got back to winning ways against Gladbach on Saturday.
Hoffenheim head coach Holger Stanislavski paired the two young Americans together in midfield for the first time with Williams going the distance and Johnson logging almost 70 minutes.
The first half of the match was all Hoffenheim as they used patient attacks over the wings to put Gladbach under pressure, generating good scoring chances in the 4th, 17th, 20th and 22nd minutes. In the 34th minute Vedad Ibisevic had the best chance of the opening 45, but just as with the other four, Gladbach's keeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen was the last stop as he thwarted the Bosnian from close range.
In the 56th minute, Johnson fluffed his sliding-effort to get onto a cross 6 yards out and unintentionally dished off for Ibisevic, who fired home past Ter Stegen to give Hoffenheim their first goal of the game, and first in their past 3 matches.
After conceding, Gladbach finally showed some of the attacking prowess that had vaulted them into the top of the standings. Gladbach had more of the ball, but could not garner any clear-cut scoring chances as Hoffenheim's defense refused to let Gladbach get too close.
Hoffenheim held on to pick up their first victory in three matches. They now sit on 16 points and are in 6th place. This week is double duty for Hoffenheim as they host FC Cologne in an all Bundesliga cup affair on Wednesday, before the Bundesliga resumes on Saturday with an away date against Jermaine Jones and Schalke.
Bayer Leverkusen 04 0 - 1 Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones prowled the midfield from the get-go for Schalke 04, as they made the short trip to Leverkusen to take on Bayer 04 in the early Bundesliga match on Sunday.
Huub Stevens handed Jones his first start in midfield since taking over the Königsblauen one month ago; it was just Jones' second start on the season and fourth total appearance after falling out of favor under former Schalke boss Ralf Rangick.
Things got off to a rough start for Jones, as the German-born midfielder picked up an early yellow card for bringing down German striker Stefan Kießling in the 8th minute.
Both teams were determined to play prudent soccer with all attacks emanating from a solid defensive base. The best chance in the first half came in the 15th minute, when Peruvian striker Jefferson Farfan was played into space by young German midfielder Lewis Holtby. The Peruvian, however, just pulled his shot wide of the far post.
Jones, never on to shy away from contact or conflict, drew the ire of former Germany captain on more than one occasion as the two stalwarts in midfield seemed to be constantly involved in fouls and gamesmanship with each other.
In the 69th minute, the two were seen chuckling together reminding us all that it is just a game. After Jones was brought down rudely by Ballack, Schalke coach Stevens began to berate Ballack for what he considered a bookable foul, but both Jones and Ballack were apparently amused by the incoherence of the Dutchman's rant.
Back on the field, German winger Andre Schürrle had an open look on goal, but his shot was stopped point black by keeper Lars Unnerstahl in the 81st minute.
The ensuing corner landed right to Farfan on the edge of the box, after he boxed out Schürrle. The Peruvian was then off to the races on a 3-on-2 down the right flank. Once inside Leverkusen's box, Farfan looked off Lars Bender for an open look, which the Peruvian slotted coolly past Bern Leno in Leverkusen's goal with his right foot capping off an amazing solo run with the game's only goal.
David Yelldell was an unused substitute for Leverkusen.
Schalke is back in action on Wednesday as they take on Karlsruhe in the German cup. Next weekend Schalke and Jones have a Bundesliga date with Daniel Williams and Fabian Johnson in Hoffenheim.
FC Nürnberg 2 - 2 VfB Stuttgart
Timmy Chandler assumed his starting role at right fullback once again for Nürnberg, who had to settle for point in a topsy-turvy and controversial match against the Swabians.
Nürnberg got the better start and took an early lead in the 9th minute, after Belgian midfielder Timmy Simmons thumped home a close-range effort on the backend of a scrum in front of goal.
In the minutes that followed, Stuttgart's was plagued by repeated turnovers in their build-up. Nürnberg too shot themselves repeatedly in the proverbial foot with errant passes and poor crosses.
The game's next dangerous scene did come until the final minute of the first half as Stuttgart's keeper Sven Ulreich had to make an acrobatic save to Nürnberg midfielder Jens Hegeler's well-struck free kick.
After the break, the play on both sides of the ball improved significantly with both teams generating decent chances.
In the 59th minute, Stuttgart midfielder Martin Harnik collected the ball 5 yards out of goal and got off his shot as an onrushing Philip Wollschied closed the Austrian down. Harnik got the shot off, which deflected of the Nürnberg defender's leg and then off of his hand. Referee Markus Wingenbach inexplicably pointed to the spot and Zdravko Kuzmanovic converted to equalize.
Nürnberg needed a few minutes to collect themselves, but did so dramatically as they regained the lead with their next chance on goal. Hard-luck defender Wollscheid of all people got on the end of Marvin Plattenhard's free kick, wrong footing Stuttgart keeper Ulreich to put Nürnberg up 2-1.
Although Stuttgart began pressing for an equalizer as would be expected, Nürnberg, too, kept their foot on the gas.
In the 84th minute, the Swabians got level thanks to Mexican defender Maza. William Kvist's pinpoint cross found the lanky Mexican five yards from the net, and Maza bouced his header past Nürnberg keeper Alexander Stephan.
There were no further late heroics, and both teams had to be content with a point.
For Chandler and Nürnberg, the next week is a busy one with a Wednesday German cup match against Erzgebirge Aue, before travelling to Munich to take on Bayern.
Alemannia Aachen 3 - 1 FC Igolstadt 04
In a battle two bottom dwellers, Aachen got the better of Igolstadt and Edson Buddle, who got his team leading 6th goal in a losing effort.
The action picked up in the 22nd minute as Aachen's captain Benjamin Auer latched onto a corner kick, but his header only made it as far as the post. The ensuing rebound bounced off of Aachen defender Seyi Olajengbesi and over the line.
Aachen added another in the 27th minute as Feisthammel slammed a free kick off the post. The ball then landed at the feet of Auer who tapped home unmolested.
At the break, Igolstadt's head coach Benno Möhlmann brought on Edson Buddle to inject some life into the team.
Buddle repaid his coach just seven minutes later and gave Ingolstadt some belief, when Buddle powerfully headed in Moritz Hartmann's cross.
But try as they might, Igolstadt could not find an equalizer. In second-half stoppage time, Aachen added a third when striker David Odonkor had a free run on an open goal and fired home, after Igolstadt had rolled the dice to equalize and sent keeper Kirschstein into the opposing box in a last-ditch effort.
Things will not be any easier for Igolstadt this week: first they have a German cup match against FC Bayern Munich, before they return to league action on Sunday against Eintracht Frankfurt.
1860 Munich 1 - 1 SC Paderborn
Matt Taylor was a second-substitution for SC Paderborn, who remained unbeaten in their last seven after grabbing a late equalizer against Bobby Wood and 1860 Munich.
Paderborn's head coach Roger Schmidt sent the same 11 players on the field that started in last week's 1-0 home victory against Braunschweig, leaving Taylor on the bench once again; Wood also started the match on the bench.
The match saw both teams come out of the gate determined to defend, which did little for the attacking side of the game. Slowly but surely, Munich began to get more of the ball, but could do precious little in the attacking third against Paderborn's organized backline.
That all changed in the 37th minute for one brief moment, and Munich pounced on the chance. Munich striker Benjamin Lauth played a ball to Daniel Bierofka on the right flank, whose cross flew over Paderborn's central defenders to Lauth's strike parter Kevin Vollend. Vollend then clumsily redirected the ball into the back of the net with a combination of thigh and shoulder.
Replays were inconclusive, but Vollend appeared to have used a bit of elbow too. The referee saw nothing wrong and counted the opening tally, much to the dismay of Paderborn's players and coaches.
Both coaches declined to make any halftime substitutions, and the quality of attacking play continued to suffer.
In the 70th minute, Schmidt subbed on Taylor to help ignite their floundering offense.
The move finally paid off in the 84th minute asTaylor found himself one-on-one with Munich's keeper Gabor Kiraly, who saved Taylor's effort, but only as far as Florian Mohr. The midfield man sank his shot on the open net to give Paderborn a late equalizer and a point.
Wood came on in the 88th minute, but had no time to make an impact before the game's final whistle.
Both teams have a busy week ahead of them with the return of the German Cup in addition to the weekend's league schedule. For Munich, the week sends them first to Düsseldorf to take on Fortuna before travel to Duisburg on Sunday. Paderborn travel to Fürth on Tuesday, before a home league match against Aue.
VfB Stuttgart II 3 - 1 SV Babelsberg 03
Amaechi Igwe found himself back in the starting lineup, but could not help his team to victory as they fell to Stuttgart.
Babelsberg took the lead in the 28th minute as Sergej Evljuskin notched his first goal of the season with a sound right-footed shot.
But once again Babelsberg could not hold onto a lead. Just five minutes later, Stuttgart's Alexander Aschauer was Johnny on the spot to tap home from close range with his left.
Stuttgart took the lead right before the break, and it was Aschauer, who was in the right place at the right time once again, slotting home a left-footed shot for the home team.
After the break, Stuttgart was content to defend, and occasionally venture forward on the counter attack. The plan bore fruit as the hosts struck in the 85th minute. It was Aschauer's day as he got the hat trick.
With the loss Babelsberg are just 3 points clear of the drop zone. Next week Babelsberg and Igwe play host to VfL Osnabrück.
Alfredo Morales was not named to Hertha Berlin's bench as they played a goalless draw against Mainz 05.
Ricardo Clark was not named to the Eintracht Frankfurt's squad that beat Duisburg 3-0.
Luis Robles was on the bench for Karlsruhe's goalless tie against Bochum.
Preston Zimmerman was a late second half substitute as Darmstadt got back on the winning track knocking off Chemnitz 2-1.