Bundesliga notes: Robben on 'No Era Penal'; Schalke eyes third American teen

Arjen Robben speaks about his comeback from injury and the famous penalty he drew on Mexico at the 2014 World Cup.
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Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben says he’s nearly back from his groin injury and felt comfortable doing work on the ball this week in training. With a long history of injuries, the 32-year-old Robben says he’s focusing more than ever on injury prevention moving forward.

“That’s the thing you’re working on, especially in my case,” Robben said. “You try everything and you do everything just to be ahead of injuries. So I work a lot with the physios, I work in the gym, I do all the stuff. You tick all the boxes.”

Robben added he’s hoping to be back soon and thinks he can still have a big season under new manager Carlo Ancelotti.

“I’m still confident for this season,” he said. “The most important thing when you’re back is to get back into the rhythm. You need like three, four, five games to get over that stage where it’s still vulnerable. The first few games and training sessions, the first few weeks, are always a little bit tricky. You have to get through that. And once you’re back into the rhythm of games, you’re stronger.”

Robben also offered what he'd say to Mexican fans who still say “No Era Penal” about the penalty he drew at the 2014 World Cup, which let the Netherlands snap a 1-1 tie in stoppage time and oust Mexico in the round of 16.

Robben laughed and gave this response: “In the end, it’s a moment in the World Cup that takes a long life. It’s always difficult when you lose a game. There comes disappointment and frustration. But if you look at the game clearly and look at the penalty situation very clearly—not like a Mexican fan, but from a neutral point of view—you have to admit already in the first half they didn’t give me a penalty, and it should have been a penalty. And the penalty itself, it was a penalty. [Rafa Márquez] made a foul. For me it was all very clear, but I understand their disappointment.”

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga:

Schalke eyes third U.S. teenager

Schalke has recently signed two U.S. 18-year-olds and is hoping to add a third. Schalke’s director of youth development, Oliver Ruhnert, says he thinks young Americans are getting better and better. He said forward Haji Wright can be a difference-maker with his goal-scoring ability, and he thinks midfielder Weston McKennie, who signed recently after coming through FC Dallas's academy, has the physicality and the mentality to excel in the Bundesliga someday.

Schalke has also had 17-year-old midfielder Nick Taitague (pronounced tie-ta-gwee) on trial, and Ruhnert said Schalke plans to offer Taitague a contract once he turns 18 in February.

Ruhnert went so far as to compare Taitague to another American teenager in Germany on the rise–Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic.