The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) has been overshadowed by the achievements of their women counterparts in recent years. The United States Women’s National Team (USMNT) are four-time FIFA World Cup winners and have dominated the sport over the past few years, while the men failed to even make it to the last edition of their FIFA World Cup. However, with plenty of promising young talent coming through the ranks in recent years, the USMNT have reason to be optimistic. Here, we have a look at a few American talents who are plying their trade across Europe’s best leagues and point towards a bright future for the men’s team.
Powerful with a good turn of pace, American full-back DeAndre Yedlin has more than 60 caps for his country and has been playing his football in England since 2014. Brought to England by Tottenham Hotspur, Yedlin had a slow start to life in England before finding his feet during a loan move to Sunderland. After proving himself for Sunderland, he moved to their rivals Newcastle United in 2016 and went on to establish himself as their first-choice right-back option. Even though he seems to have fallen down the pecking order this season, having mostly appeared in EFL Cup matches for Newcastle, Yedlin’s experience abroad makes him a crucial member of the men’s squad.
Another American full-back, Sergino Dest is a young and highly-rated prospect who looks destined to make the right-back spot in the national team his own for years to come. The 20-year-old is defensively sound and a threat while moving forward. A part of Ajax’s famed youth set-up after the Eredivisie giants recognised his talent from an early age, Dest made his senior team debut for them last season and was impressive, finishing the campaign with two goals and six assists from the back. Assured while manning their backline as well, Dest joined Catalan giants Barcelona in the last transfer window and will be looking to kick on in the ongoing La Liga season.
Weston McKennie is another promising and young American talent who honed his skills in the youth academy of a European club. After joining Schalke 04’s youth academy from FC Dallas in 2016, the midfielder graduated to the German club’s senior team in 2017 and has gone from strength to strength since. McKennie has played 91 games for Schalke’s senior team and developed his all-round game. His defensive strengths aside, the 22-year-old notched five goals as well as seven assists during his time with Schalke and joined Serie A giants Juventus ahead of the new season. The fact that he was roped in by Juventus speaks volumes about his potential and it’ll be interesting to track his progress in the 2020-21 campaign.
The USMNT’s blue-eyed boy, Christian Pulisic is their go-to man when the chips are down. Pulisic joined Borussia Dortmund’s youth set-up as a 16-year-old in 2015 and made his debut for the club in January 2016. He enjoyed success at Dortmund, lifting the 2017 DFB-Pokal with them before signing for Chelsea in the 2019 January transfer window despite only joining up with the Blues at the start of the 2019-20 campaign. Although injuries have hampered his progress of late, his time in England has seen him enjoy plenty of individual success so far. He finished his first season at Chelsea with 11 goals as well as 10 assists across all competitions and netted a perfect hat-trick during a win over Burnley.
Only 17 years of age, Giovanni Reyna is the son of former American players Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan. Like Pulisic, Giovanni joined Borussia Dortmund’s youth set-up and seems to be developing at a rapid pace with the Bundesliga giants. He made his debut for the club in January to break Pulisic’s record of being the youngest American to appear in a Bundesliga game, at 17 years and 66 days of age. Giovanni also became the youngest American to play and register an assist in the UEFA Champions League after he set up a goal in Dortmund’s first leg encounter in their round-of-16 match against Paris Saint-Germain last season. The ongoing campaign has seen him start the season like a house on fire. His five appearances for Dortmund so far this season have seen him net twice and set up four more goals, including a hat-trick of assists in one match.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Adrian Dennis