AMSTERDAM – It was an eventful Saturday for Americans stationed in Germany, with John Anthony Brooks bagging the winner as Hertha Berlin returned to winning ways following a 2-0 defeat of visiting Braunschweig.
In the 61st minute, Brooks netted at the end of a corner attack for his first tally since opening day. The US defender also excelled in his own end, winning 15 clearances and three tackles. The result snapped Hertha's nine-game winless slide and gave the club back-to-back shutouts for the first time since early December.
Around the league, Timothy Chandler made his awaited injury return by playing the first half of FC Nürnberg's damning 2-0 loss at Mainz 05.
Working under a pre-set minutes limit, the US World Cup hopeful nearly put his side on the board first by capping a fine team move with a drive just wide of the post on 25 minutes. Despite that highlight near miss, Chandler showed plenty of rust on the ball in his first match since February 8.
The defeat – Nürnberg's fifth in a row and ninth from the last 10 games – effectively killed any hopes they had of reaching the safety zone with just two rounds remaining. The club still can reach the survival playoff slot held by Sunday participants Hamburg, who now hold a one-point edge, the better goal differential and a game in hand.
Hoffenheim received an active shift from Fabian Johnson and 21 lively minutes off the bench from Bundesliga debutant Joseph Gyau, but squandered a late penalty kick to settle for a 0-0 home draw with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Johnson covered a lot of ground from his right-back post, mixing several long runs on the ball with four tackles to help the hosts post consecutive Rhein-Neckar-Arena shutouts for the first time in more than a year.
Gyau had limited touches in his first bit of senior side action for Hoffenheim in more than two years, but he was the target of some late splitting pass attempts that were not quite able to release the winger behind the Eintracht defense.
With but one loss in their last nine, Hoffenheim held firm in ninth place.
One league below, Andrew Wooten starred with a pair of first-half goals as FSV Frankfurt moved to the edge of survival with a 3-1 triumph over guests Energie Cottbus.
The Kaiserslautern loan forward, who notched his first goal in over two months against the parent club last week, put the home side ahead to stay with a brace inside three minutes' time late in the first half. Wooten deftly picked the corner in the 32nd minute to break the ice, and then doubled his team's lead from the spot two minutes later.
The win not only snapped FSV's five-game losing streak, it also tentatively lifted them six points above the danger zone with two games left on their schedule.
Greg Seltzer covers Americans based in Europe for MLSsoccer.com.