PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson and Hoffenheim face off in a crucial relegation battle, while Matt Taylor and Münster can fire themselves back into a promotion position against Bielefeld.
1. FC Nuremberg - FC Augsburg
Both Timothy Chandler and Michael Parkhurst return for their respective teams when Nuremberg and Augsburg face off on Friday.
Chandler will man the right back position for Nuremberg once again after missing last week because of a yellow card suspension, while Parkhurst should make Augsburg's bench after missing the last two weeks because of an illness.
Both teams come into the match playing well. Since the end of the winter break, Augsburg has lost just one match and now is in the driver's seat in the race for the playoff position between the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga. Nuremberg, meanwhile, has a seven-point cushion over Augsburg in safety, thanks in large part to four straight ties.
Nuremberg will be without Timo Gebhart with adductor problems and Sebastian Polter because of yellow card accumulation. Goalkeeper Alexander Manninger, midfielders Daniel Baier and Milan Petrzela are unavailable for Augsburg because of a thigh injury, yellow card accumulation and knee problems, respectively.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
In a matchup of the Bundesliga's cellar dwellers, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Hoffenheim will attempt to keep hopes for survival alive against Fürth on Saturday.
Johnson will start at left back, while Williams might make his second start in a row at the No. 6 role for Hoffenheim.
In a two-week span, Hoffenheim went from controlling its own destiny to needing some help to survive this season in the Bundesliga, as the team has dropped five points in two matches and is five points behind Augsburg in the playoff spot.
Fürth has been the epitome of futility in Germany's top division, sitting in last place for most of the season. The Cloverleaves have won only two matches all season long.
Hoffenheim will be without Sebastian Rudy and Sejad Salihovic, who are recovering from an ankle injury and an operation on the meniscus in his right knee, respectively, as well as Vincenzo Grifo with an edema in a foot. Edgar Prib and Zoltan Stieber are out for Fürth with a thigh injury and because of a shoulder operation, respectively.
SV Sandhausen - TSV 1860 Munich
Andrew Wooten and Sandhausen host Bobby Wood and 1860 Munich for the first time in league play on Friday, with both team needing points.
Wooten will start once again at right attacking midfielder for Sandhausen, while Wood is an option for Alexander Schmidt on Munich's bench.
Sitting in the direct relegation zone, Sandhausen needs three points against the Lions in order to close the gap on the playoff position between the 2.Bundesliga and 3.Liga, as the home team is three points behind current holder, Dresden.
Munich, meanwhile, still has an outside chance at getting the promotion playoff spot at the top end of the standings. The Lions sit six points behind Kaiserslautern in third place going into this weekend.
Defenders Kim Falkenberg and Fabio Morena and midfielder Simon Tüting are unavailable for Sandhausen, while the Lions will be out Daniel Halfar with an edema in his knee and Maximilian Nicu with a bursa sac injury.
FC St. Pauli - Jahn Regensburg
Joe Gyau should make his third start of the season and his second in a row when St. Pauli hosts Regensburg on Friday.
Struggling with injuries for most of the season, Gyau broke into St Pauli's starting lineup in the team's 1-0 win over Aalen as a right winger. The American winger gave Aalen fits with his speed along the wing to help St. Pauli put more distance between itself and the relegation zone.
Regensberg sits in last place in Germany's second tier without much hope of climbing out of the bottom of the standings. The away team has picked up one win and seven points in the last 10 matches, allowing 22 goals over that span.
Fin Bartels, Christopher Buchtmann, and Kevin Schindler will miss for St. Pauli becasue of a thigh injury, a foot operation and an ankle injury, respectively. Regensberg will be without Carlinhos because of the flu, Philipp Ziereis with a knee injury and Jonatan Kotzke with a torn cruciate ligament.
VfB Stuttgart II - SV Darmstadt 98
Preston Zimmerman and Darmstadt continue to search for a miracle against Stuttgart II on Saturday.
Zimmerman should start in the mmidfield for the Lilies, while U.S. U-20 forward Jerome Kiesewetter might make the Schwaben's bench.
With 12 matches remaining, the Lilies are four points outside of safety, having played a match more than 17th-place Rot-Weiß Erfurt. Darmstadt can thank the 3.Liga's second-worst offense for its troubles, having recorded more points (21) than goals (20).
With 32 points on the season, Stuttgart II is thoroughly entrenched in the middle of the 3.Liga's standings. The team has struggled of late, though, losing three of their last four matches.
Three players - Benjamin Gorka, Stefan Hickl and Uwe Hesse - are serving red card suspensions and will miss the match for the Lilies. Stuttgart II will be without Steffen Lang because of a shoulder injury.
Arminia Bielefeld - Preußen Münster
Matt Taylor will hope to fire Münster back into the promotion positions against Bielefeld on Saturday.
The American forward hasn't scored a goal since November 3 against Erfurt, and his team has suffered during that time. The Eagles have recorded only 21 point since then and dropped from second place to fourth over that span.
The Eagles have a chance to rectify their struggles with a win against Bielefeld. Their opponent is currently in third place, only two points above Münster.
Dennis Riemer is out for Bielefeld because of a cruciate ligament injury, while Münster is not reporting any significant injuries at this time.
Central midfielder Jermaine Jones will miss the 82nd Ruhrderby against Dortmund on Saturday because of yellow card accumulation.
Steve Cherundolo will miss yet another match when Hannover takes on Frankfurt on Sunday. The American right back continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery.
Alfredo Morales should make Hertha Berlin's bench in the team's match against Duisburg on Sunday.
Royal-Dominique Fennell will be unavailable for the Stuttgarter Kickers in their match at Saarbrücken on Saturday.