NEW GERMAN RULE TO BENEFIT YANKS
In an unexpected move last week, the Bundesliga announced that all roster limits on non-European Union players would be lifted, making it easier for players such as Hamburg's Benny Feilhaber and Preston Zimmerman to get first team action.
"They can play (in the Bundesliga) and it's good," Hamburger SV's head of scouting Bernd Legien told YA earlier this week.
Currently, each Bundesliga team can have no more than four non-Europeans on their roster, and this number was scheduled to be reduced to three for next season.
However, in an attempt to align itself with UEFA's "local player" guidelines, Bundesliga administrative arm DFL removed the rule altogether.
Although it is not yet clear when the rule will take effect, more than likely it will begin before next season.
Each team will now be required to have four players on their rosters between the ages of 15 and 21 that came up through a German youth program, regardless of nationality.
Two of those players will also have to have spent three years at the club in question; the numbers will increase to three and three for the 2007/2008 season, and to four and four in 2008/09.
The clubs will also be required to have at least 12 German players under contract.
Presently, however, there are no roster limits and a debate on reducing the roster ceiling of each of the 36 professional teams (first and second Bundesliga) to 25 men is underway.
Concerning Feilhaber, it would appear that the former UCLA Bruin will be a part of the Bundesliga roster next season at the latest.
"We donít know if the rule will be valid immediately or for next season," said Legien. "We should know in the next few days."
In the meantime, Feilhaber is taking part in the winter training camp in La Manga, Spain.
The team flew south on the January 8th and suited up for their first test match last night against 2.Bundesliga club VfL Bochum.
Feilhaber entered the game in the 61st minute and put in a solid effort on national German television in a 2-2 draw.
The US Under-20 standout was in defensive midfield, would make runs forward at times, and six months of first team practice seemed to be paying dividends.
As American fans noticed at the World Youth Chamionships in Holland last summer, the youngster was solid on the ball, proved tough to knock off his feet and harmonized well with his teammates.
Hamburg will go again on Tuesday evening against perennial Swiss power FC Basel, also to be broadcast by German channel DSF.
Feilhaber and the Rothosen will return to Hamburg on the 18th.