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Awful goalkeeping howler dooms Bayern to draw

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Bayern fans are already counting down the days until Manuel Neuer’s return in goal.

In his absence, Sven Ulreich has earned a pair of starts in Bundesliga play, and the most recent has not ended well. With Bayern leading Wolfsburg 2-0, Ulreich completely botched a simple save leading to Wolfsburg’s first goal, sparking a comeback from the visitors.

As Max Arnold delivered a free-kick 10 minutes after halftime, the ball sailed just over the wall and directly at Ulreich’s head. Instead of catching the attempt or using both hands to parry the shot, Ulreich raised just his right hand and failed to connect fully. The ball glanced off the side of his palm and into the back of the net to bring Wolfsburg a goal back.

The free-kick had decent pace, and it didn’t help that Sebastian Rudy made a poor attempt to block the delivery, but Ulreich won’t want to see a replay of that chance, as he made a hideous attempt to stop the shot. Wolfsburg would eventually equalize with just seven minutes remaining in the match as Daniel Didavi scored a pinpoint header in off the post. Ruddy let Didavi sneak behind him, and Paul Verhaegh delivered a fantastic long ball into the box for the 27-year-old to redirect in. The final whistle marked the first time since March 2004 that Bayern had blown a two-goal halftime lead at home.

The draw means Bayern has failed to put pressure on Borussia Dortmund this weekend, leaving Die Roten level with their Dortmund rivals on 13 points with the latter still to host Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

Neuer likely won’t be back until January thanks to yet another foot injury, leaving Bayern to either continue along with Ulreich and hope he improves, or look for other options either in-house or on the free agent market. Ulreich came over from Stuttgart in the summer of 2015 and has backed up Neuer since.

Wolfsburg hires Martin Schmidt after firing Andries Jonker

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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) Wolfsburg has hired Martin Schmidt to coach the Bundesliga side as a swift replacement for Andries Jonker.

[ MORE: PL Playback — Koeman, Everton facing significant pressure ]

Jonker was fired on Monday after less than seven months in charge, with Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Stuttgart leaving Wolfsburg with four points from its opening four league games of the new campaign.

The 50-year-old Schmidt has signed a contract through 2019 and he will take charge of Tuesday’s game against Werder Bremen.

The Swiss coach left Mainz by mutual consent in May after almost three years in charge. Mainz finished last season in 15th place in the Bundesliga, above Wolfsburg on goal difference. Wolfsburg only survived in the Bundesliga last season by a winning a playoff.

More AP German soccer coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/Bundesliga

USMNT’s John Brooks out three months with thigh injury

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Uh oh.

The U.S. men’s national team will have to do without center back John Brooks for their crucial upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers after his club side, Wolfbsurg, confirmed he ruptured tendons in his thigh in a German Cup game last weekend.

Brooks, 24, became the most-expensive U.S. player in history this summer after he joined Wolfsburg from Bundesliga rivals Hertha Berlin for $23.3 million but the German-American will now spend a considerable amount of time on the sidelines.

“John Anthony Brooks will be out for VfL Wolfsburg long term,” Wolfsburg said in a statement. “In the first round of the DFB Cup the American ruptured a tendon in his right front thigh at FC Eintracht Norderstedt. This resulted in in-depth investigations on Tuesday and Wednesday and it is expected that Brooks will be able to return to the team training in about three months.”

So, a huge blow for Bruce Arena who will now have to find a new partner for Geoff Cameron at the heart of the USA’s defense.

Tim Ream, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez will be the frontrunners to slot into the back four, but Cameron and Steve Birnbaum struck up a good partnership in the past. Ream, who has had a fine start to the season with Fulham, would seem like the best option, especially with his ability to play as a left-sided center back.

Whatever way you slice it up, this isn’t great news for the USMNT ahead of their qualifiers against Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena on Sept. 1 and at Honduras on Sept. 5.

Wolfsburg’s John Brooks could miss Bundesliga opener

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BERLIN (AP) United States defender John Anthony Brooks injured his thigh in his competitive debut for Wolfsburg and could miss the Bundesliga club’s opener against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

Brooks went off in the 37th minute of Wolfsburg’s 1-0 win over fourth-tier club Eintracht Norderstedt in the German Cup.

Wolfsburg coach Andries Jonker says “we don’t have an exact diagnosis yet. … For the Dortmund game there’s still a question mark.”

Brooks joined Wolfsburg in the offseason for a reported fee of 20 million euros ($22.4 million) from Bundesliga rival Hertha in a record transfer for an American player.

Brooks scores as Wolfsburg downs Ream’s Fulham

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It was a battle of USMNT defenders as John Brooks took on Tim Ream in a London friendly at Craven Cottage, with the former coming out on top as Wolfsburg won 3-0. The US defender opened the scoring, while Mario Gomez put on the finishing touches with a brace late in the second half.

[ MORE: Miazga loaned to Vitesse for another season ]

Brooks took the early advantage as his looping header gave Wolfsburg the lead midway through the first half. The chance came on a set-piece as Daniel Davidi picked up the assist from his free-kick.

Ream started and was paired with Chelsea loanee Tomas Kalas for much of the match, until being substituted off with 79 minutes to go. Brooks also started, alongside 25-year-old Wolfsburg youth product Robin Knoche, and went the full 90 minutes.

Brooks joined Wolfsburg this summer for a $20 million fee, which is more than Fulham has ever spent on a player. The German club has looked good in preseason, with the club’s typical goalscoring flair looking to have returned, a season after narrowly avoiding relegation after losing its attacking touch.

Fulham’s defense, meanwhile, has been quite leaky all preseason, although Ream has not been in the lineup for much of it as manager Slavisa Jokanovic has looked to test out his other defensive options. They conceded a massive eight-goal total to Chelsea in a training session at Cobham, and then allowed a pair of goals in games against West Ham, Darmstadt, and now Wolfsburg.