Brooksjohnanthony_herthabsc_article Courtesy of Hertha BSC
Americans Abroad

John Anthony Brooks: Things Are Looking Up

Hertha Berlin sits atop the German 2.Bundesliga, and is likely to earn automatic promotion to the top German league for 2013-14. That's good news for John Anthony Brooks and Alfredo Morales.
BY Mathew Wagner Posted
March 19, 2013
10:06 AM
MIDWAY THROUGH MARCH seems a little early to speculate about next season, but this is the situation John Anthony Brooks, Alfredo Morales, and Hertha Berlin find themselves in right now.

With eight matches to go, the Old Lady sits atop the 2.Bundesliga standings and holds a 12-point cushion over third-place Kaiserslautern in the promotion playoff position. Also having the league’s best goal differential at this point, it would take a New York Mets-proportion collapse for Hertha to not earn direct promotion into Germany’s top division.

Does this mean that the team’s two German-Americans will join the increasing number of U.S. men’s national team members in the Bundesliga?

Based on the media reports out of Berlin, the likelihood of Brooks and Morales playing in Germany’s top tier is quite high–somewhat because of their play but also because of Hertha’s debt problem.

According to several Berlin media reports, Hertha has debts of €42 million (about $54.5 million). The team expects a budget of around €64 million because of television money, but as stated in the German tabloid B.Z., Hertha makes no mention of using any of the new money for transfers.

Any new players arriving in the summer will likely be free transfers, meaning, more than likely, the coach who engineered Augsburg’s promotion into the Bundesliga in 2011 and managed a lot of the Fuggerstädter’s miraculous survival in 2012, Jos Luhukay, will stick with what he’s got.

For the six-foot-four Brooks, this is good news, as he has impressed his coach throughout the season. And Brooks told the Tagespiegel in late January that “no coach is better for younger players than” Luhukay, and that he trusts team leadership.

Luhukay’s trust, meanwhile, isn’t so easily given. “The players must earn my trust,” he said in January. “The players must feel like they have to do everything to earn it.”

Brooks has done just that, starting 18 matches at center back for one of the best 2.Bundesliga defenses (21 goals allowed). Most of that success has come from the pairing of Brooks and Fabian Lustenberger. The Swiss international played mostly defensive midfielder before the season, but he and Brooks have built a solid connection in the middle of the back line over the 15-plus matches in which both started at center back.

Although Hertha is thin in defense, it seems like management is more concerned with whether the team can hold onto leading scorer Ronny and, if not, who should get to replace him.

As for Morales, his inclusion into the Bundesliga squad is unknown. The defensive midfielder struggled for playing time most of the season but since returning to the club after the January U.S. national team camp he has appeared with the first team and is a regular in the 18.

Luhukay told Berlin media following Morales' start against Aalen on Feb. 16 that Morales “earned the start.” Has he earned a chance to play in the Bundesliga again? These next few months will probably determine that.

Mathew Wagner is ASN's Europe Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter.

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