Winter break: 1.FC Kaiserslautern

16th place:

Grade: D+

FCK has a great tradition, and won two titles in the 1990s. But more recently, it’s been a club beset with financial difficulties that has challenged their vocal supporters. After bouncing back from the 2.Liga, the Devils have had some minor success, but as players have developed, they’ve left for greener pastures (greener as in money). As a result, FCK is relying on a mix of untested youth and so-so veterans.

Youngster Kevin Trapp (21) has been barely passable as GK. Not terrible, not bad, but not at the level expected from German keepers. Maybe he’s looked worse than he is, because the defense has been terrible. Veterans Florian Dick and Martin Amedick have been poor, and Brazilian Rodnei has also been weak, missing a month with injury.

The midfield has also been bad. Veteran captain Christian Tiffert (29) has battled admirably, but none of the other 8 players tried have been even close to his form. A couple of young Greek players, Thanos Petsos (20) and Konstantinos Foutonis (19) have seen lots of playing time, but not impressed. Veteran Oliver Kirch (29) has also been weak.

The attack is just like the other areas: struggling. Israeli Itay Schechter leads the line with 3 goals, pretty meager output for 17 matches. Slovak Adam Nemec was out injured for 4 months and has recently come back into the lineup, showing some promise. German-Congan Richard Sukata-Pasu (21) has perhaps been the worst forward in the league, 14 matches, 0 goals. He probably needs some seasoning in the 2.Liga.

Coach Marco Kurz has his work cut out, but is doing a reasonable job. Like many teams in his predicament, the collective is better than the sum of the parts. FCK is known for their fighting spirit, and that along with the fanatical home support will have to be enough to carry them through. That should probably be enough to keep them up, because I can’t see this squad losing a relegation playoff with a 2.Liga contender, and I don’t see them falling below Augsburg (basically a discount version of FCK) or Freiburg.



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