2.Bundesliga

Cologne promoted back to Bundesliga as 2nd division champion

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FUERTH, Germany (AP) Two days after firing its coach, Cologne secured its return to the Bundesliga as Germany’s second division champion with a 4-0 win at Greuther Fuerth on Monday.

A hat trick from Jhon Cordoba and an own goal from Daniel Steininger ensured Cologne clinched top spot, eight points ahead of Paderborn with two rounds remaining.

After its rivals all lost at the weekend, Cologne needed only a point to secure an immediate return to the top flight following its relegation last season, but the mood at the club had been anything but celebratory after going four games without a win.

[ MORE: Bundesliga schedule]

Coach Markus Anfang was fired on Saturday after two straight defeats and former under-21 coach Andre Pawlak put in charge for the last three games of the season.

Pawlak clinched promotion on his debut after the win pushed the team to eight points more than Paderborn and nine more than Union Berlin and Hamburger SV. The top two are promoted, while the third-place finisher has a two-leg playoff against the team that finishes third from the bottom in the Bundesliga – currently Stuttgart – to determine which plays in the top flight next season.

Giovinco out, Boyd in at Toronto FC?

AP Photo/Michael Probst
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Sebastian Giovinco has one year left on his Toronto FC contract, but also wants his next contract sorted quickly.

That may mean a move abroad, as the Italian wizard considers interest from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal.

Selling Giovinco would allow TFC to cash in on their star, and may also prod Jozy Altidore to the door — Liga MX? — ahead of a new contract as Ali Curtis reshapes the championship team reared by Tim Bezbatchenko.

Al-Hilal is managed by former Benfica and Sporting Lisbon boss Jorge Jesus, and has Bafetimbi Gomis, Andre Carrillo, and Jonathan Soriano on the books.

The move comes as Toronto is linked with oft-injured Darmstadt striker Terrence Boyd. The Reds acquired the top spot in the allocation order from FC Cincinnati this week in a trade for Nick Hagglund, and USMNT striker Boyd is believed to require allocation to arrive in MLS.

Boyd, 27, was one of the top American talents abroad when he sealed a 2014 move to RB Leipzig following a standout pair of seasons at Rapid Wien, but has played just 43 times for RBL and Darmstadt.

He scored four times in 24 Bundesliga matches during the club’s 2017-18 relegation campaign, but counts just one appearance of more than 15 minutes amongst his 13 times on the field for the 2.Bundesliga side.

Boyd was last capped in 2016.

Make sure to tune-in for our special Transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN on Thursday, Jan. 31 from 5 p.m. ET as we focus on all of the moves across the Premier League in the January window. You can stream the show live online right here.

VIDEO: Union Berlin goalkeeper scores stoppage time equalizer

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The man who scored the equalizer was wearing bright orange gloves.

Union Berlin goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz nodded a stoppage time goal over the line as his 2.Bundesliga side snared a memorable draw with Heidenheim on Sunday.

[ RECAP: Saints 0-3 Chelsea ]

A free kick in the fourth minute of stoppage saw Gikiewicz join the fray with Union Berlin down 1-0.

The ball worked its way to the back post, where Swedish forward Sebastian Andersson cut a hopeful pass back over the packed box.

That’s where Gikiewicz was, climbing the ladder in a bright yellow-green shirt to pop a header into the goal. Remarkable, indeed.

The point pushes Union Berlin ahead of third-place Hamburg.

Americans Abroad in 2.Bundesliga: Parker joins Green on Furth

@kleeblattfuerth
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When it comes to Americans Abroad, few leagues have as many active USMNT-eligible players than Germany’s second tier.

Maybe it’s a knock-on effect of Jurgen Klinsmann’s USMNT tenure, but seven players with American blood have taken part in matches over the first two weekends in 2.Bundesliga (four with U.S. connections have not).

[ MORE: Europa League wrap ]

Julian Green has yet to find the goal for Greuther Fuerth, but not for lack of trying. Only one player in the league is averaging more than his four shots per game.

U.S. eligible forward Shawn Parker signed with Greuther Fuerth on Wednesday.

Like Green, American-born goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm has collected four points with club Holstein Keil this season, keeping a clean sheet.

U.S. U-19 midfielder Kevin Lankford is in his third season with Heidenheim, and has made a start and a sub appearance in his two appearances.

2.Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Fuerth — 2 matches, 153 minutes, eight shots
Next: Saturday vs. Paderborn

Joe Gyau, Duisburg — 1 appearance, 10 minutes
Next: Friday at Darmstadt

Terrence Boyd, Darmstadt — 2 appearances, 10 minutes
Next: Friday vs. Duisburg

Ken Gipson, Sandhausen — 1 appearance, 26 minutes
Next: Friday at Bochum

Kenneth Kronholm, Holstein Keil — 2 appearances, 180 minutes, clean sheet
Next: Sunday at Jahn Regensburg

Kevin Lankford, Heidenheim — 2 appearances, 1 start, 83 minutes
Next: Sunday at Dresden Dynamo

Jann George, Jahn Regensburg — 2 starts, 175 minutes
Next: Sunday vs. Holstein Keil

Yet to appear: McKinze Gaines, Darmstadt; Lennard Maloney, Union Berlin; Mario Rodriguez, Dynamo Dresden; Andrew Wooten, Sandhausen; Shawn Parker, Greuther Fuerth.

Five USMNT players to watch in club adventures

Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
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The next level is within reach for these five Americans abroad, whether it’s a step to stardom or just a move toward finding a new permanent home.

[ MORE: Zlatan suspended ]

  1. Andriya Novakovich, Fortuna Sittard — He’s re-signed with Reading, but the Football League Championship side isn’t ready to hand him the keys to a big role (or lose him before he reaches peak value). The Wisconsin-born 21-year-old with two USMNT caps will attempt to bring his prolific Dutch second division season (19 goals for Telstar) to Eredivisie with promoted club Fortuna Sittard.
  2. Erik Palmer-Brown, NAC Breda — The 21-year-old center back has taken baby steps in Europe, but defending in the prolific Eredivisie (on loan from Manchester City) is a tall ask. While Matt Miazga’s proven he could handle the load, EPB will look to do the same.
  3. Tim Weah, Paris Saint-Germain — This one’s rather obvious, but we’re not watching to see whether the fiery young striker is quality. Rather, what would it say if the 18-year-old can get significant playing time with a Champions League mainstay?
  4. Julian Green, Greuther Furth — Last season’s loan to Furth was enough to make the 2.Bundesliga club want to buy the former Bayern Munich man from Stuttgart. Green is now 23, four years removed from his World Cup goal against Belgium but mere months from his friendly goal against France. Is the next step now?
  5. Emerson Hyndman, Bournemouth — The 22-year-old’s former club, Fulham, is now in the Premier League, and Hyndman sure is hoping to face them. He spent all of 2017-18 with the Cherries but only found the pitch in the final match, a year after making an impact on loan to Rangers. He may be set for another loan, but needs to break through wherever he ends up (and if he gets playing time, he’s a good bet for it. Smart player).