By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Aug 16, 2023) US Soccer Players – The 2022-23 German Bundesliga season ended the same way the previous ten seasons had, with Bayern Munich lifting the Meisterschale, the silver shield awarded to the league’s champion. That familiar result means the new season, which kicks off on Friday with the champs visiting Werder Bremen, begins like every season over the last decade. The rest of the field of Bundesliga clubs face the daunting task of knocking off Germany’s most successful team. Unfortunately for everybody else, Bayern spent a club record €100 million to acquire striker Harry Kane from Spurs.
As has been the case for decades, there’s a strong American contingent in Germany’s top division this season spread across six different teams. Two of those finished in the top four last season and will be playing in the UEFA Champions League.
Gio Reyna and Borussia Dortmund entered 2023-24 aiming to complete the job they came agonizingly close to finishing last season when they tied with Bayern Munich on points but lost out on the title via goal difference.
Reyna’s season was spent largely as a game-changing substitute in Edin Terzic’s team. Reyna made four Bundesliga starts in 22 appearances overall and collected just short of 1,200 minutes. His best run of play came in the second half of the season when his goalscoring off the bench boosted Dortmund chances of winning the championship. He scored seven goals on the season, with five coming after the World Cup break and the league’s annual winter pause.
Jordan Pefok and Brenden Aaronson get a chance to chase honors in Germany and Europe with Union Berlin this season. Perfok begins his second season with Union Berlin, scoring four goals and providing four assists in 31 appearances for Union last season. He’s now joined by Aaronson, who will play in the three-man midfield in coach Urs Fischer’s 3-5-2 setup. ED: Pefok moved to Gladbach shortly after the start of the season.
Aaronson moved to Union from Leeds United this summer after the English club suffered relegation to the Championship. His high-energy game looks like a good fit for Union’s style of play, which values moving the ball quickly upfield via the counterattack to create chances.
Eintracht Frankfurt finished last year in 7th, earning the club a spot in the UEFA Conference League this season. The club is also home to two USMNT players, defender Timothy Chandler and midfielder Paxten Aaronson, Brenden’s younger brother and a fellow product of the Philadelphia Union academy.
This season will be Chandler’s 10th with Eintracht. Chandler began his Bundesliga career with FC Nurnberg before moving to his hometown outfit in 2014. The veteran of 29 USMNT caps made six appearances last season at fullback.
The younger American at Eintracht is Aarsonson, a player the club acquired from the Philadelphia Union last winter. Despite expectations that he would require the second half of the Bundesliga season to adjust to life in Germany, Aaronson pushed his way into the first team and made seven appearances as a substitute. Aaronson earned his first USMNT senior cap against Colombia in January, a few months before his Bundesliga debut.
At Wolfsburg, American left wing Ulysses Llanez is back with the club following a loan stint in Austria with St Poulten. Wolfsburg missed out on the European places last season and is eyeing a move back into the top six. Wolfsburg’s history with American players is a deep one. Center back John Brooks spent five seasons with the club playing in both the Bundesliga and Champions League.
Brooks returned to the Bundesliga last January with Hoffenheim, finished in 12th-place. Brooks playing a significant role in the club’s improvement after a poor start. He stepped immediately into the starting lineup in late January and finished the campaign with 16 full 90-minute performances.
A few places ahead of Hoffenheim in last season’s standings was Joe Scally’s Borussia Moenchengladbach. Scally made 28 appearances for Gladbach last year and though that was a lower number than the year prior, the former NYCFC player improved his total for starts from 20 to 25 and minutes from 1,900 to 2,200).
Long a destination for USMNT players, the Bundesliga is again a league to focus on this season. Bayern might be the favorite, but several clubs with USMNT contributors in their squads believe they have a chance to achieve this season.
Jason Davis is a veteran soccer writer and is a host on Sirius XM.