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U.S. defender John Brooks looked to have put his miserable 2017-18 season behind him in fine style on Saturday, scoring Wolfsburg’s first goal of the new Bundesliga campaign on a powerful first-half header against Schalke.
But the dream start turned into a nightmare in the 85th minute, when Brooks conceded a penalty kick that allowed Schalke substitute Nabil Bentaleb to equalize before Daniel Ginczek won it for Wolfsburg deep into stoppage time.
Brooks limped out of Wolfsburg’s opening match 12 months ago with a thigh injury that ended up costing him almost the entire season. The German-American center back was limited to just 10 appearances in all competitions for the club following his $22.5 million transfer from hometown club Hertha Berlin, a record fee for a U.S. national team player, although he did return to action in time to help Wolfsburg narrowly avoid relegation.
After a strong preseason, the towering 25-year-old started on Saturday against Schalke (and USMNT teammate Weston McKennie) in his 100th Bundesliga appearance. He put the hosts ahead in the 33rd minute, getting free inside the six-yard box and nodding Maximilian Arnold’s corner kick past Schalke keeper Ralf Fahrmann.
But the 6-foot-5 Brooks received a yellow card for dangerous play when he tried to clear a head-high ball and inadvertently kicked Schalke defender Salif Sane in the head, leading to the penalty.
Brooks scored a memorable goal for the U.S. at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in a 2-1 group stage win against Ghana on a play similar to the one he converted on Saturday. The former German under-20 national team player has won 33 caps for the U.S. since making his senior debut in 2013.