Johnson helps Hoffenheim avoid relegation from Bundesliga with trio of wins.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Thursday, May 30, 2013) -- TSG 1899 Hoffenheim staved off relegation from the German Bundesliga, winning both legs of a relegation\promotion playoff against 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
Hoffenheim surprised most observers by making the playoff by beating second-place Borussia Dortmund in the season finale 2-1 on a pair of Sejad Salihovic penalty kicks in the final 13 minutes. Thus Hoffenheim finished in 16th place and made the playoffs at 8-19-7 with 31 points, a point ahead of Fortuna Düsseldorf (7-18-9).
German-American defender Fabian Johnson played 90 minutes in all three games. On Tuesday, Hoffenheim polished off Kaiserskautern, the third-place team from the 2. Bundesliga, 5-2 on aggregate with a 2-1 victory.
Last Thursday, Hoffenheim opened with a 3-1 triumph behind two goals by Roberto Firmino. Johnson hit the crossbar with a header from three yards away in the dying minutes.
Danny Williams, who tore a shoulder muscle lifting weights, missed all three outings and likely will be unavailable to the United States men for three World Cup qualifiers in June.
In Italy, U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley and Roma things ended on a disappointing note. Playing Rome rival Lazio in the Coppa Italia final with a place in the Europe’s second-tier Europa Cup next season at stake, Roma fell short 1-0.
Bradley had a fine match in the defensive midfield, but Roma could not find the goal and ended up without the Cup and a place in European competition next season.
German-American striker Terrence Boyd finished up his rookie season with a goal and an assist for Rapid Wien, which easily defeated SV Josko Rie 3-0.
Boyd completed his season with 17 goals in all competitions, 13 in league play.
American midfielder Freddy Adu came off the bench and played seven minutes in made his Brazilian Serie A debut for Bahia in its 3-1 loss to Criciúma in the season opener.
Yesterday, Adu did not dress in a 0-0 draw with Coritiba.
In Spain’s Segunda División, U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra played 86 minutes for Racing Santander in its 0-0 draw with Guadalajara.
His contract now reverts back to Scotland’s Glasgow Rangers, but he certainly will move elsewhere next season.
In Norway’s Eliteserien, American goalkeeper Steve Clark, playing for Hønefoss BK, came out on the wrong side of a 4-0 loss to Molde FK.
American midfielder Josh Gatt played the first 59 minutes for Molde.
U.S. midfielder Mikkel Diskerud played the first 61 minutes for Rosenborg BK in a 2-1 decision over Vålerenga.
Isaac Brizuela, a fleet 22-year-old Mexican-American winger who helped Atlas place a surprising third in Mexico Liga MX, is considering making himself available to the U.S. men.
Conejito, as he is known, was born in San Jose, Calif., and played the recently-completed season on loan from Toluca. He played for Mexico’s under-22 men who won the 2011 Pan American Games championship.
Mexico’s Club Tijuana, which regularly dressed three Americans on its first team this season, recently promoted a fourth American from its youth program, 21-year-old Bruno Piceno.
Piceno, who is listed as being born in Tijuana, actually was born in San Diego.
According to the Rojingegros’ web site, Piceno has scored 38 goals for the club’s youth system. He might be remembered from scoring on a 25-yard against Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy in a February preseason match at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Other than these two Mexican-Americans, Tijuana has six Americans being considered for its first team: midfielder Joe Corona and Stevie Rodriguez, defenders Edgar Castillo and Greg Garza, Mexican-American midfielder Alejandro Guido, and Mexican-American defender Raul Rodriguez.
Corona and Castillo were regulars this past season and Garza a valued reserve.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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