By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (May 13, 2019) US Soccer Players – If August brings with it the promise of what could be, May is the time to assess results. That’s what teams, coaches, and players who earn a living across Europe do at the end of every season. Over the past nine months, we’ve witnessed many successes and plenty of failures. For Americans playing in Europe, it has once again been a season loaded with lots of great performances.
Those positive club performances always bode well for the National Team, especially during this time of rebuilding ahead of the upcoming Gold Cup. It’s a time when US players can show how the professionalism of Europe has helped them develop and grow their game.
Americans featured across all tiers of Europe’s many domestic tournaments. Some 120 players with US passports currently play in Europe with those in the Bundesliga getting the most attention yet again. Germany's topflight has become the league of choice for Americans in recent years. The trend of Americans to sign with German teams (after the Premier League and Championship in England had gobbled up so many Americans in recent years) has propelled the careers of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, and Tyler Adams.
Here’s a look at five Americans who excelled in Europe this season and can change games for the USMNT.
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
The departing American superstar has to wait another 90 minutes come Saturday to find out whether his Borussia Dortmund side can overcome Bayern Munich in the standings and win the Bundesliga title. Bayern will face Eintracht Frankfurt at home with a two-point lead over Dortmund. BVB needs Bayern to lose as well as grab three points for themselves on the road against Gladbach. It’s all still very possible given how the German league season has been going.
Injuries hampered the 20-year-old Pulisic throughout most of the season. As a result, he has only played in 19 league games (29 in all competitions). He has scored four goals and three assists in league play, including a goal this past Saturday in a 3-2 win against Fortuna Dusseldorf to keep BVB’s title hopes alive.
Weston McKennie (Schalke 04)
Another American in Germany who is 20 years old and excelling is McKennie. The midfielder did play on a team that underachieved this season. Nonetheless, Schalke 04 avoided relegation and McKennie has featured in 23 league games. Several injuries also kept him from getting more minutes this season.
McKennie got valuable playing time and learned how intense competition can be, especially when it comes to avoiding the drop. With former USMNT player David Wagner now his coach, the future is bright for McKennie. Under a 3-5-2 formation for most of this season, McKennie needed to do a lot of running. That tireless energy and strong first touch make him an asset on any team he plays for.
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)
Adams has only played in nine league matches, but he could have featured in more if not for two factors: He joined RB Leipzig in mid-January once the MLS season was over and has had adductor problems since early April.
Adams not only showed promise, but proved that his standout performances in MLS translated to the Bundesliga. He’s had two assists this season. It’s worth noting that Leipzig has never lost with Adams on the pitch, posting a 7-3-0 record. If 2019 is any gauge, a full season with no injuries could result in some amazing performances from Adams.
Tim Weah (Celtic)
Scotland is a country where many Americans have excelled in the past. The six-month loan deal this past January that brought Weah from PSG to Celtic proved a success for the budding striker. Just 19, Weah made his debut for Celtic on January 19 as a second-half sub in a Scottish Cup fourth round game. He scored in his debut against Airdrieonians, following that up with a goal four days later in a 4-0 win against St Mirren.
A fan favorite in Glasgow, Weah had what you could call a very successful year. He won the Scottish Premiership and scored three goals in 11 league appearances in the process. In all, he played in 20 games this season including his time at PSG and scored seven goals. Where he ends up next season is an open question as Weah joins up with the USMNT U-20s for the World Cup.
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)
The lone goalkeeper on this list has proven once again that the US has a knack for producing world-class talent at the position. After beginning the season on the bench for the Belgian club behind Croatian international Karlo Letica, Horvath was able to regain the starting job.
The biggest highlight this season for Horvath? Posting three straight shutouts against Monaco, Borussia Dortmund, and Atletico Madrid in the Champions League group stage. In the Pro League, Horvath has played in 19 contests. His side are currently in 2nd-place, three points behind Genk, in the championship round.
The 23-year-old Horvath is part of a group of European-based players making their case for call-ups. It’s this depth and experience that bodes well for the National Team going forward.
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He is also the author of A History of the World Cup: 1930-2014. Find him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/ClementeLisi.
More from Clemente Lisi:
- Preview: The 2019 US Open Cup
- MLS trends in 2019
- Canada's new league
- The MLS rivalries in the I-95 corridor
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