RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
It was a weekend of dueling Americans in Germany, as Yanks lined up opposite each other in each of the top three German flights in weekend German soccer action.
Jermaine Jones logged 73 minutes of action holding down Schalke's midfield as they blew out Timmy Chandler and Nürnberg to send the Franconians tumbling further down the standings.
Jones has become a mainstay in midfield under head coach Huub Stevens, making his fourth start in a row on Saturday. Stevens, however, had to contend with injuries to starting left full back Benedikt Höwedes and winger Jefferson Farfan, who both picked up identical knee injuries while playing for Germany and Peru respectively; Atsuto Uchida and Julian Draxler filled in.
Nürnberg's head man, Dieter Hecking, was also forced to make a couple of changes as midfielder Javier Pinola was ruled out due to injury and Tomas Pekhardt left the team due to a death in the family. Daniel Didavi was handed his first start with Nürnberg, replacing the out-of-form Markus Feulner.
The action started in the 13th minute, when Lewis Holtby's sensational pass to Alexander Baumjohann from deep midfield unlocked Nürnberg's defense.
Baumjohann took the ball into the box, with only keeper Rafael Schäfer to beat. The latter retained the upper hand against the former, but he failed to parry away from danger and Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pounced and cleaned up the mess to open the scoring.
Nürnberg's offense was now plagued by amateurish turnovers whenever they got numbers forward. And in the 33rd minute, an errant pass just outside of the Nürnberg box was picked off by Jones.
Jones immediately carried the ball forward to midfield, where he connected with Raul in loads of space on the left. The Spaniard's one-time pass could not be controlled by Baumjohann, but Nürnberg defender Tim Klose failed to clear. The ball eventually landed at Raul's feet, before he expertly finished with a superb left-footed shot to double Schalke's lead.
The game was all but over after 66 minutes, when 18 year-old Julian Draxler slipped in a through ball behind Nürnberg's back line onto Huntelaar, who hammered in a right-footed strike from 8 yards out.
Schalke, however, continued to display dangerous attacking soccer and added a final tally in the 84th minute, as Raul's one-time chipped through ball found Holtby in the area. He controlled, before skirting and slotting past keeper Schäfer.
The loss leaves Nürnberg in 15th place, with a meager 12 points from 13 matches. Schalke, on the other hand now has 25 points and is in 4th place, just three points back of leaders Bayern Munich. Chandler and Nürnberg host Kaiserslauter in a must-win match, while Jones and Schalke travel to Dortmund to take on their bitter rivals.
Hamburger SV 2 - 0 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Fabian Johnson got the start as an attacking midfielder for Hoffenheim, but finished at left full back, while Danny Williams did not get off the bench in a road defeat for the TSG at the Imtech Arena in Hamburg.
Johnson has become a preferred attacking option for Holger Stanislavski's team since recovering from an injury that kept him out of action for a month, but the young German-American was thrust into defense after just 30 minutes of action as Dutch full back Edson Braafheid was forced off due to injury.
The game got off to a flying start with Hamburg signaling from the get-go that they intended to attack; Paolo Guerrero needed only two minutes to garner the game's first chance, but after marching through the left side of Hoffenheim's defense the Peruvian could not beat keeper Tom Starke in a 1 v 1 situation.
Hoffenheim, too, came to play attacking soccer. The guests nearly scored in the 17th minute themselves, as Tobias Weis made a driving run into the box towards the goal line and then dropped a pass back to midfielder Sejad Salihovic at the penalty spot, only to see the effort go wide of the target.
With the game wide open, and both teams hell bent on throwing numbers forward, and defending seemingly an afterthought, it was only a matter of time before the ball found the back of the net.
Despite the quality both team had on display in Hamburg, the game's opener was a result of the ball literally bouncing the right way.
Guerrero chested a ball to Swedish striker Markus Berg on the edge of the box, which he could not control. However, Hoffenheim captain Andreas Beck's attempt at a sliding clearance did nothing more than play the aforementioned Guerrero in behind the defense and alone onto goal. The Peruvians one-time effort beat Starke, but not the left post. The carom, though, landed at the striker's feet once again, and the second time was the charm for the game's first.
After the restart, both teams continued to push numbers forward, which produced some entertaining soccer, if not much in the way of defending.
In the 56th minute, Venezuelan Tomas Rincon dropped off a ball deep in the attacking third for Marcel Jansen. The one-time German midfielder and defender drove past Salihovic and Beck, who essentially let him pass by into the box uncontested, finding himself in plenty of space to rip off an unmolested shot that somehow beat Starke to the near post.
Jansen had a golden opportunity to add a third in the 69th minute after Marcus Berg advanced the ball all the way into Hoffenheim's box to lay off for the left-footed Jansen, but Starke was up to the challenge this time making an excellent reactive save on a right-footed shot.
It was the second match in a row that Williams started on the bench, but the first since matchday seven that he failed to see any action.
Hoffenheim is now winless in their past three outings, and are now in no man's land in the standings in 9th place with 17 points. Next week they host Freiburg at home on Saturday.
SC Paderborn 2 - 1 Karlsruhe SC
Matt Taylor was a late second-half sub for Paderborn, while on the other side of the ball Luis Robles started in goal for Karlsruhe, who fell in a close contest spoiling the debut of head coach Jörn Andersen.
Karlruhe parted ways with Teddy Scharinger two weeks ago after going winless in 12 games in all competitions. Interim boss Markus Kauczinski got a win in his only match in charge against Ingolstadt, but the higher-ups in Karlsruhe opted to bring in the Norwegian on a permanent basis. Andersen returned to the Bundesliga after guiding Mainz 05 into the Bundesliga in 2009, only to be fired before coaching a match in the German top-flight.
In stark contrast, things could not be going better for Paderborn. The Westphalians are arguably the biggest surprise of the season so far, coming into the match with an impressive 28 points and in 5th place.
The underdogs from Baden had the better start, and looked to have a new sense of belief after the coaching change, but failed to turn their possession and energy into goals.
Paderborn, however, showed off why they have been such a success this year by drawing first blood with their first real chance. A free kick from 35 yards out by Paderborn's Alban Meha seemed to have eyes and found lanky defender Sören Gonther's noggin. He had no trouble beating Robles, who could do little to keep the shot out.
Pretty much par for the course for Karlsruhe this season, as it was the 32 goal conceded by Andersen's newly inherited team, and the 21st from a set piece.
Karlsruhe, undeterred, caught a break, when Paderborn's Thomas Bertels used his hand to corral the cross, although there was not a Karlsruhe man within 3 yards of the ball. Georgian midfielder and Karlsruhe captain Alexander Iashvilli stepped up, converted coolly and got his squad back on level terms.
Just 6 minutes after the break, Karlsruhe was gifted a penalty that never should have been, as the referee adjudged Paderborn's keeper Lukas Kruse to have fouled Karlsruhe striker Clemens Lavric. Replays, however, showed that the keeper flew past the striker, without making anything more than light, incidental contact.
Once again, it was Iashvilli stepping up to the spot to convert, but convert he did not, opting to rattle the woodwork instead.
When things looked to be heading for a tie, Paderborn's leading goal getter Nick Proschwitz knew what to do as he powered his header off of an early cross from Christel Giué-Mien past Robles in the 88th minute.
Karlsruhe failed to find any late-game heroics to salvage a point from a match, in which they clearly deserved something.
Karlsruhe is one point adrift of the drop zone with 12 points, whereas Paderborn sits in fifth with 31 points. Karlsruhe hosts Alemania Aachen on Saturday, while Paderborn take on FSV Frankfurt the day before.
SV Babelsberg 1 - 1 SV Darmstadt
Both Amaechi Igwe and Preston Zimmerman started on the bench for Babelsberg and Darmstadt respectively, but saw second half action as there was nothing between the teams in a crazy and dramatic match that saw three red cards and late equalizer.
Both Igwe and Zimmerman have had difficulties cracking the starting lineup this season, and took their seats on the bench for the start of this one.
The scoring started shortly before the halftime break as Babelsberg's keeper Daniel Zacher brought down Darmstadt's Oliver Heil. Zacher was lucky to have only seen yellow, but could do little to prevent the opener as Marcus Steegman converted easily from the spot.
After the break, Darmstadt's coach Kosta Runjaic was forced to bring on Zimmerman for injured striker Henry Onwuzuruike.
In the 75th minute, referee Thomas Stein sent off both Babelsberg's Ronny Surma and Darmstadt's Cem Islamoglu as they both got into a physical altercation.
If that weren't enough to change the dynamic of the game, Stein reached for red again just 3 minutes later reducing Darmstadt to 9 men, after Uwe Hesse committed a dangerous challenge.
Just 8 minutes later, Darmstadt paid for their lack of discipline as Anton Makarenko tapped home from short range to give the home team a point for their troubles.
Up next for Babelsberg is an away match against Bielefeld on Saturday. A day later, Darmstadt host Werder Bremen II.
Steve Cherundolo was not used on Saturday as Hannover was thrashed by VfL Wolfsburg 4-1.
David Yelldell took his spot on the bench as Leverkusen's number 2 in a 2-0 victory over Kaiserslautern on Friday.
Alfredo Morales failed to make the bench as Hertha Berlin tied SC Freiburg 2-2.
Ricardo Clark was not named to the matchday squad for Eintracht Frankfurt as the Hessians won 4-3.