They might call football 'soccer', but five XXL-talented North Americans based in the Bundesliga know exactly what the game is all about, and the youthful trans-Atlantic quintet - Christian Pulisic, Alphonso Davies, Tyler Adams, Haji Wright and Josh Sargent - are set to take the 2018/19 Rückrunde by storm.
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
There is only one place where we can start and that is with the 20-year-old American who, in June, ends a four-year association with Borussia Dortmund that has seen the winger develop into one of the best young players in the world. Pulisic will surely bow out having added to his 81 Bundesliga appearances, 10 goals and 16 assists, and having inspired the latest wave of Americans furthering their development in Germany.
Pulisic now has five months left of a season that sees Dortmund turn the Hinrunde corner six points clear at the top of the league and still in contention in both the UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup. “For the next six months, it’s all BVB… We all feel that this is 'our year' and we are determined to achieve the best possible results in all competitions,” said Pulisic in a heartfelt letter to Die Borussen.
Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
“A childhood dream came true” for Davies when he signed a five-year deal with Bayern Munich from Vancouver Whitecaps, and the 18-year-old forward has already been hailed by teammate Robert Lewandowski as having the potential to become “a great player”. Meanwhile, coach Nico Kovac has hinted at Davies already being ready for first-team football and having made his senior Bayern debut in their Telekom Cup final penalty shootout win over Borussia Mönchengladbach, Davies could feature sooner rather than later in the league.
Blessed with searing pace, devilish trickery, a keen eye for goal, and a bantamweight boxer frame that means he can't be bullied, Canada’s youngest-ever Player of the Year could potentially play an important part in the closing stages of Bayern’s season as the Bavarians compete across three fronts. With three goals in nine senior international outings for Canada and a further eight goals and 12 assists in Major League Soccer, Davies should add further potency in reserve to support Robbery, Serge Gnabry and the returning Kingsley Coman.
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
The 18-year-old Missouri native made a flying start to his Bundesliga career, scoring with his very first touch in senior football just 86 seconds after making his Werder Bremen debut in a 3-1 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf in December. He then scored a 77th-minute equaliser against RB Leipzig before his team fell to a late 3-2 defeat, taking his tally to two goals in just three league appearances. And Sargent has impressed over the winter break, his coach Florian Kohfeldt saying: "He's made a step forward. Josh has performed very well in training and also in his recent Bundesliga games."
Werder slipped into the bottom-half of the table following that Leipzig defeat and they have been desperately short of league goals with only Max Kruse (4), Maximilian Eggestein (4) and Yuya Osaka (3) netting more times than Sargent has, despite having featured considerably more often than the American teen. With Werder in need of a ruthless touch, Sargent is likely to be given plenty more opportunities to shine - and on the evidence so far, he will take them.
Haji Wright (Schalke 04)
Having witnessed first-hand Weston McKennie’s ascension from USMNT prodigy to integral Schalke first-teamer, Wright has keenly observed the path that potentially awaits him in Gelsenkirchen. Like Sargent in Bremen, Wright finds himself in a prime position to end his side's struggles in front of goal. With Schalke 13th in the table after 17 games, the Royal Blues have struck just 20 times in the league and are unable to boast of a player with more than three Bundesliga goals.
Wright has one goal from his five league appearances and looks increasingly like being handed greater chances to make an impression on coach Domenico Tedesco. It may even be compatriots McKennie and Wright who hold the key to unlocking the side's problems in front of goal, with the pair first lining up together in attack and then combining for Wright's first goal for the club against Bayer Leverkusen in December. The 20-year-old striker, who said it is his "dream to make the breakthrough at Schalke", now stands on the cusp of being able to do just that. Watch this space.
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)
Like Davies, Adams completed his move at the start of the January transfer window, officially inking a deal until 2023 from Leipzig's MLS sister club in New York. And Adams has already tasted his first minutes of football for his new employers, featuring for Leipzig in their mid-season friendly against Turkish giants Galatasaray a week out from the league's resumption. The 19-year-old already cites Pulisic and McKennie as inspiration for his move, saying he wants to measure himself up against his "friends and compatriots".
Considering Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick's preference for two defensive midfielders, Adams is a natural fit in providing Diego Demme and Kevin Kampl with competition for the role. His positional awareness and passing ability, paired with both his desire and ability to win the ball in the centre of midfield, make him a perfect addition as Leipzig aim to fulfil desires of pressing high and gaining possession back as quickly as possible.