George Bello, Julian Green and Scott Kennedy are not the only North Americans set to make a big impact in Bundesliga 2 in 2022/23...
The Nigeria-born USA international moved to Arminia Bielefeld in January this year, going on to make his debut in the 1-1 draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 21. By the end of the campaign, Bello had featured 10 times for Bielefeld, but the club were ultimately dumped out of the league following a poor Rückrunde that delivered just two wins in 2022.
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Bello, who started just three of those 10 top-flight appearances, now has the opportunity to make the left-back spot his own in Bundesliga 2, if he can dislodge Jacob Laursen. There's no reason why the seven-cap USA international can't and he'll be extra motivated to do so with places up for grabs at the 2022 FIFA World Cup later in the year. He may also benefit from the arrival of new coach Ulrich Forte, who will offer up a clean slate for all players to stake their claims for first-team spots over the course of pre-season.
Having fought so hard for a crack at the German top-flight last season, Green will have been bitterly disappointed not to have helped Greuther Fürth remain in the Bundesliga. The 27-year-old, who played four times for Bayern Munich but without featuring in the league, had previously made his Bundesliga debut on loan at Hamburg and chalked up five appearances there in 2014/15. And, after scoring nine times in the Clover Leaves' promotion-winning campaign in 2020/21, he returned to the big time albeit without finding the back of the net in his 24 appearances.
Watch: A study in contrasts: Green vs. Davies
Green, who has 15 caps and four goals for the USMNT and earned a recall to the squad in May 2021, will now set about firing Fürth back to the top tier once again. In the absence of Branimir Hrgota, he was handed the captain's armband in pre-season by new coach Marc Schneider and Green is relishing the prospect of shouldering even more responsibility this term. "I want to play as many games as possible and continue the performance of two years ago," he told fupa.net of his ambitions for the new season. "I see myself as a leader in the team and have been with the club the longest. Now let's see how quickly we can adapt to the new league."
Once of Hertha Berlin, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Darmstadt, Boyd made an immediate impact at Kaiserslautern as he helped lift the club into Bundesliga 2 last time out. Following his January arrival, the 31-year-old proved the difference for Kaiserslautern and helped end the club's four-year exile by hitting eight goals in 13 appearances after making the move from Hallescher, where he produced a further seven strikes in 2021/22.
Boyd, who has earned 14 USA caps and last featured for his country in 2016, has already been on target in pre-season and will surely enjoy a full season under his old boss at Darmstadt, Dirk Schuster. One thing's for certain, Boyd is in no rush to drop down to the third tier again. "We don't want to be a yo-yo team," he said. "My goal is that the sleeping giant will now be woken up."
A Union Berlin academy graduate who made his professional debut with the club in Germany's second division in April 2018, Maloney featured twice for Dortmund in the Bundesliga last term. His top-flight debut came against Arminia Bielefeld on Matchday 9, and he then featured against the same side on week 26. The remainder of his season was spent playing 27 times for BVB's second-string in the third tier before Maloney made the switch to Heidenheim this summer.
The 22-year-old arrives at the club with regular first-team football top of his agenda. He will now vie for a place alongside captain Patrick Mainka - another BVB II old boy - in the centre of defence, but his ability to play across the backline and in a midfield holding role could see Maloney deployed in a variety of positions. “After two years at BVB in the regional league and the third division, I'm very happy to be able to prove myself at the second division level at FCH," he told the club's website. "I will do everything to integrate as quickly as possible from the summer and to be able to help my new team with my strengths."
Last year was Malone's first at this level and, while he took a while to get settled, he ended the season in fine form. It proved he was more than capable of the step up as Malone established himself as a regular as part of Jens Härtel's three- and four-man defence. The man from Massachusetts started 18 of the final 20 matches of the season and helped his team earn five clean sheets in the process. "Ryan showed his strengths in duels and in the air," said Härtel at the end of the season just gone. "Nobody expected him to make so many games. He earned it through diligence and mentality.”
His long-throw also proved a valuable weapon in Hansa's arsenal, leading to five goals last term. It will now be up to Malone to kick on once again, something the 29-year-old is eager to do. "[It was] an incredible year," he said in May, "I'm very happy with my performance and was able to gain a lot of experience in terms of tactics and pace. Everyone [now] starts from scratch. On the first day of pre-season I have to show that I'm there. I want to keep my place.”
Carrera was actually born in the Mexican city of Pachuca and represented his hometown club until moving to FC Dallas in the States in 2017, aged 15. He even played for his country of birth at U17 level in 2019, before switching allegiances to the USA and going on to feature for his adoptive country at the FIFA U17 World Cup that same year.
By the time he was 18, Carrera made the move to Kiel in July 2020 and he made his senior debut for the club last season. The now 20-year-old centre-back played in back-to-back fixtures against Paderborn and Hansa Rostock on Matchdays 25 and 26 of 2021/22, and both player and club will be hoping that he kicks on another gear this season. The 6'3" defender, who cites Gerard Pique as his footballing idol, penned a new deal at the club in March and believes his game is already developing since moving to Europe, saying he has improved “in intensity, speed, technique, [physicality], and speed to read the game without the ball.”
Since arriving at Regensburg in the summer of 2020, Kennedy has established himself as a key figure for both club and country. He has featured in 45 of his team's 68 matches over his two seasons in Germany and, after making his Canada debut in September 2021, has gone on to collect eight caps at the centre of his country's defence. Kennedy earned five of those international honours in Canada's 2022 World Cup qualification campaign and he will be confident of heading to Qatar with the Maple Leaves this winter. Especially when you listen to his international coach, John Herdman, who described Kennedy's Canada bow as "as strong a debut as I've seen for this country".
Before then, he'll need to continue propping up Regensburg's defensive unit and you can be sure that the 25-year-old will be firmly focused on doing just that. Again, you only need to ask Herdman what impressed him the most about the SSV man. "Just the way he's handles himself from the day he came into this environment, [he's] just a consummate pro."
The second of the two Canadians is Halbouni, who told Transfermarkt that he sees Kennedy as an inspiration. “Bundesliga 2 is a top-notch league. Once you make a move like that, you hope you can replicate what Kennedy did and get called up to a camp,” said the young defender. And he's already had conversations with Herdman, who has told him: "I need to get first-team minutes, and obviously, that's what I'm trying to do now.”
Halbouni was previously on the books of Werder Bremen until this summer, but moves to newly promoted Magdeburg with the first aim of making his professional debut. It appears that player and club could well be a match made in heaven, with the latter in full belief that their new charge is capable of great things. CEO Otmar Schork described Halbouni as "a young and talented player," who "we believe that he, together with us, can make the next step in Bundesliga 2." His new coach Christian Titz added: "Belal is a development player and strong central defender, who with his speed fulfils many parameters we searched for." Watch this space.
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