PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Three Americans will face off in a major Bundesliga relegation matchup, and Andrew Wooten looks to impress yet again at right attacking midfielder for Sandhausen.
VfB Stuttgart - 1. FC Nürnberg
Tim Chandler and Nürnberg will look to take advantage of a quick turnaround for Stuttgart when the teams face off on Saturday.
The Schwaben played a road match in Europa League action on Thursday, meaning Stuttgart will have one day to prepare for Nürnberg. This won't help Stuttgart's woes in the Rückrunde, as the team lost its first four matches before beating Hoffenheim last weekend.
Nürnberg has fared much better than its opponent during the start of the second half of the season. Der Club has only lost one match since January and is riding a three-match unbeaten streak into Mercedes-Benz-Arena.
Der Club will be without Timo Gebhart and Robert Mak because of a groin injury and muscular problems, while Stuttgart will miss Cacau, whose season ended with a torn ACL earlier this season, and Tunay Torun, who is suffering from a thigh injury.
FC Augsburg - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
In a match that will make some noise in the relegation battle, Michael Parkhurst and Augsburg host Fabian Johnson, Daniel Williams and Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Parkhurst will start once again for Augsburg at right back. He will go toe-to-toe with fellow American Fabian Johnson, who will start at left back for Hoffenheim, while Williams is set to warm the bench for the away team.
With complete safety almost completely out of reach for both teams, it seems one team is destined for the playoff with the third-place team from the 2. Bundesliga and the other is destined for direct relegation. This match will go a long way in deciding which team will win this race.
Hoffenheim holds the playoff spot at the moment, but Augsburg has looked the better team since the Bundesliga season reconvened in January.
After recording just one win and nine points in the Hinrunde, the Fuggerstätder have recorded six points in the last five matches and are one point behind Hoffenheim in the standings.
Both teams are missing key pieces because of injuries. Augsburg will be without Ronny Philip because of a knee injury, captain Paul Verhaegh because of an ankle injury, Jan Moravek because of muscular problems and Milan Petrzela because of knee problems, while goalkeeper Alexander Manninger is probable despite dealing with a thigh injury.
Hoffenheim will be without Sebastian Rudy, as he continues to recover from an ankle injury, and Sejad Salihovic, who is still coming back from a surgery on the meniscus in his right knee.
FC Schalke 04 - Fortuna Düsseldorf
Jermaine Jones and Schalke will try to carry their momentum from midweek Champions League action against Düsseldorf on Satruday.
Jones scored a crucial away goal for Schalke on Wednesday, as the Royal Blues recorded a 1-1 tie at Galatasaray. Despite only a tie, this showed progress for Schalke, which had dropped 10 of a possible 15 points in the league since the end of the winter break.
Düsseldorf, meanwhile, have been hit or miss recently. In the team's last eight Bundesliga matches, the team has won four and lost four, and Düsseldorf's last tie came against Dortmund on November 27.
Schalke has a laundry list of injuries going into the weekend. The team will be without goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall and defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos because of knee operations, defender Atsuto Uchida and midfielder Ibrahim Afellay because of thigh injuries and forward Ciprian Marica because of a meniscus operation.
Düsseldorf will be without Ronny Garbuschewski and Andrey Voronin because of abductor problems and a broken nasal bone, respectively.
SV Sandhausen - SC Paderborn 07
Continuing to impress at right outside midfielder, Andrew Wooten will start once again for Sandhausen against Paderborn on Sunday.
During last week's 3-1 loss to Dynamo Dresden, Wooten proved to be one of the few bright spots for his team, scoring Sandhausen's only goal in the match.
That loss put the team in a bit of a bind, though, as Sandhausen dropped out of the playoff spot and into a direct relegation place.
After coming so close to promotion last season, Paderborn finds itself in the middle of the 2. Bundesliga standings. The team has a nine-point cushion from Dresden in the relegation zone.
Sandhausen will be without Marcel Kandziora and Simon Tüting because of a red-card suspension and a broken arm, while Paderborn will be without Manuel Gulde with a muscle injury, Jens Wemmer with a shin injury and Manuel Zeitz with inflammation in his foot.
1. FC Heidenheim - SV Darmstadt 98
One week after moving out of last place in the 3.Liga standings, Preston Zimmerman and Darmstadt could pull out of the relegation zone with a win over Heidenheim on Saturday.
Despite only scoring 19 goals this season, the Lilies somehow could another season in the German third division. Darmstadt has recorded five points in the last three matches and sits three points out of safety with 14 matches to go.
For Darmstadt to take that step forward, it must beat high-flying Heidenheim. The home team has won seven of the team's last 10 matches to climb into fifth place and four points behind Münster for the promotion playoff spot.
The Lilies will be without Uwe Hesse and Kacper Tatara because of a red-card suspension and rest, while Heidenheim is not reporting any injuries at this time.
Steve Cherundolo will miss another match for Hannover when the team hosts Hamburg on Saturday. The American captain of the Hannover hasn't seen the field since leaving the DFB Pokal match against Dortmund on December 19 and is still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery from early February.
Joe Gyau should be a bench option for coach Michael Frontzeck when St. Pauli hosts FSV Frankfurt on Friday in 2.Bundesliga action.
After two consecutive weeks starting, Bobby Wood looks to be relegated to the bench when 1860 Munich travels to league-leader Braunschweig on Sunday.
Alfredo Morales should make Hertha Berlin's lineup on Monday when the team takes on Kaiserslautern.
Royal-Dominique Fennell will not be available for the Stuttgarter Kickers when they play Aachen on Saturday as he continues to come back from groin surgery.
Matt Taylor and Preußen Münster have the weekend off after their match at Stuttgart II was postponed because of unplayable field conditions.