By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Aug 14, 2023) US Soccer Players – A new season of Italian soccer kicks off this Saturday with the start of Serie A. Over the summer, traditional title contenders AC Milan and Juventus used the transfer window to build up their rosters, and that includes USMNT players. Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah will feature for AC Milan, while Tim Weah joined Westin McKennie at rivals Juventus. While the Premier League favors American goalkeepers, Serie A has been enamored with US midfielders and attacking players.
AC Milan, for example, is a legendary club that sought out attack-minded players over the summer. They reached the Champions League semifinals last season, only to be knocked out by city rivals and eventual runners-up Inter Milan. AC Milan finished 4th in Serie A and will again feature in Europe’s top club competition. Pulisic figures to play a major role in Milan coach Stefano Pioli’s plans this season since he could be used either as a center forward or a winger.
“We have a very strong and competitive attack,” Pulisic said in a media session the day he signed with Milan on July 13. “In general, the team is full of talent. I’ll try to make a contribution in attack. I’ve often played out wide, especially on the right flank, but I can also cover other positions, like the attacking playmaker role. I’m a particularly strong dribbler, which helps me provide assists and score.”
Joining Pulisic in Milan is Musah, who transferred from La Liga club Valencia on August 4. Mush is an established center midfielder who can also work on the right, making 33 La Liga appearances last season and 37 across all competitions. While both Pulisic and Musah will need to adapt to a new league where defending remains a top priority and the title race could be heavily contested, Musah knows Italian soccer from spending the early years of his life in Italy.
“My childhood in Italy was really beautiful,” Musah said during his introductory press conference. “I have many good memories. In summer, I was always out playing football with my brother. My mother had a shop next door. In Castelfranco, we could go out without our parents worrying. Starting out at Giorgione, I never would have imagined coming here.”
In Turin, meanwhile, Juventus is rebuilding after a series of issues last season that saw the famed club deducted points because of an accounting scandal. In addition, UEFA imposed a one-year ban from the Europa Conference League this season. McKennie returns to coach Max Allegri’s teamroster after a loan spell at Leeds, while Weah moves from Ligue 1’s Lille in transfer announced on July 1. Weah is expected to replace Colombian international Juan Cuadrado, who is off to Inter Milan after eight seasons with Juventus, on the right flank.
“Last season I played as a winger and it comes very naturally to me, so I concentrated on this, trying to adapt to the defensive aspect as well,” Weah said in his first press conference with the club. “I’ll play where it’s needed. I listen a lot to the coach’s advice. He’s a great person as well as a great coach, I’m sure I’ll be able to improve my game with him. He is very attentive to all the details, he told me to learn a lot from my teammates, to have fun and be ready to improve.”
Meanwhile, Serie B also features USMNT players with the trop of Andrija Novakovich, Tanner Tessman, and Gianluca Busio returning to Venezia after the team just missed out on promotion last season. Venezia finished 8th, losing to Cagliari in the preliminary round of the promotion playoffs. This season, the Venice-based club hopes to have a roster strong enough to compete for the top two spots, which guarantee automatic promotion.
“Last year something extraordinary was done by reaching the playoffs,” Venezia coach Paolo Venezia said during a press conference last week. “And this year we must have a clear goal to continue on our path, also through young talents who are hungry and willing to grow.”
American players will get a chance to make an impact across Italy this season. While we have never seen so many Americans in Serie A in the past, success could mean even more US soccer players joining Italian clubs.
Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. You can read him regularly on Substack at Planet Soccer.
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Photo by Javier Rojas – PI via ZUMA Press Wire – ISIPhotos.com