Bayern Munich’s Chris Richards and Taylor Booth on adapting to Germany from the USA: "It's more intense and a lot faster"
Bayern Munich youngsters and USA youth internationals Chris Richards and Taylor Booth say they have grown used to the challenges of playing in Germany, having made the step up to a "faster, more intense" game from the football they were used to in the States.
Richards, 19, has been at Bayern since summer 2018, having initially arrived on loan from boyhood club FC Dallas as part of a partnership agreement between the two clubs. The centre-back wasted little time in impressing the Bayern youth coaches and he was swiftly signed to a permanent contract.
Now a mainstay in the Bayern U23s – just one rung down from the first team – Richards has played 15 times in Germany’s third division to date this season, scoring once.
Watch: Richards inks new Bayern contract in January 2019
Booth, meanwhile, arrived in Munich in January 2019 on a three-year deal at the age of 17 from the Real Salt Lake academy, after leveraging Italian heritage on his father’s side.
A gifted midfielder who doesn’t turn 19 until May 2020, he has had an injury-plagued time at the club but has still managed one goal in seven outings for the U19s.
The duo were recently given the task of showing a group of youngsters from FC Dallas around Bayern’s youth campus, where they both live, and opened up about the experience of transitioning into life as a young player in Germany.
"There are definitely a few differences [to back home]," said Booth, who has three caps for the USA’s U19 side, on adapting to his new surroundings.
"For me the biggest thing was the physicality and speed of play. In the States we have a lot of technical players but when you get to Germany it’s a lot more intense and the speed of play’s a lot faster. It takes a few games to adapt to it, but after training and playing a few games you get used to it."
Richards, who toured his homeland with the first team during their pre-season preparations in summer 2019, echoed those thoughts. "Back in the US we used to go into most games expecting to win, but here the level is pretty much the same throughout the league. You’re not going to get a bad team at the weekend, most of the teams can play with you. That’s the biggest difference, I think."
He went on to highlight the difference between playing at youth level, as he did last season, to facing opponents much older than he is on a weekly basis: "With the U23s you’re playing against grown men every weekend, so you’re playing pro football now. The speed of play is a lot different, and it’s way more physical."
Richards and Booth are two of a quartet of USA-eligible players on Bayern’s books, alongside Timothy and Malik Tillman, and will be aiming to become just the fourth American to play for the club’s first team after Landon Donovan, Julian Green and Wolfgang Sühnholz, although Canada international Alphonso Davies is already doing the North American contingent proud this season in what has been a breakthrough campaign for the 19-year-old.
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