Two wins from two games in the USA for Borussia Dortmund against Seattle Sounders and Liverpool. A perfect Stateside trip ahead of the 2019/20 season, but three players in particular made major statements before the start of the Bundesliga campaign.
Gio Reyna, Paco Alcacer, and Marius Wolf all stood out in the friendlies against the MLS side and the European champions. bundesliga.com looks into what it could mean for BVB…
Watch: Liverpool 2-3 Borussia Dortmund - HIGHLIGHTS
Fans in Europe and the United States alike have high hopes for Dortmund's latest young American star. Gio Reyna, son of former USA and Manchester City midfielder Claudio Reyna, joined BVB in November of 2018 and took his chance to shine in his homeland with aplomb.
Against Seattle, Reyna started on the bench, but came on shortly after the half-hour mark, replacing young Dutch midfielder Immanuel Pherai. Not even five minutes after the change, Dortmund took the lead with Reyna amongst the attackers that finally breached the Sounders' defence. Reyna may have only played 30 minutes on his debut in Seattle, but he clearly did enough to impress coach Lucien Favre, who gave him a spot in the starting XI against BVB's next opponents; reigning European champions Liverpool.
Favre's faith was repaid in full and in very short order. Reyna may only be 16 years old, but he was fearless as he faced up to experienced professionals fresh of the back of a Champions League victory. Three minutes after kick-off, Dortmund opened the scoring: Julian Brandt got to the byline and crossed the ball into the centre of the box where Reyna reacted faster than Nathaniel Clyne, before displaying incredible strength to hold off both Clyne and Joël Matip and toe poke the ball to Paco Alcacer who hammered it into the back of the net.
Reyna has said that he is looking to break into the Dortmund first team this season. It's certainly a high bar to clear, but if these two matches in the US are anything to go by, Reyna has the skill, strength, and tenacity to match his ambition.
Another standout from this pre-season tour is a more familiar face. Alcacer was BVB's top scorer last season, however, only a third of his league strikes came from a starting spot.
In his first season in Germany, Alcacer was the living definition of a super sub. He scored 18 Bundesliga goals in total, with 12 of those coming after being brought in off the bench. Lucien Favre started the striker in both matches of the US tour and Alcacer responded with a goal in each. In both instances, the Spaniard's goalscoring instincts were plain to see.
In Seattle, the 25-year-old scored Dortmund's second after Sounders keeper Bryan Meredith carelessly rolled the ball into the striker's path, allowing the No.9 to chip the ball high over the shot-stopper and into the net. Against Liverpool, Alcacer was all poacher and was waiting in exactly the right place to benefit from Reyna's excellent hold-up play and give BVB a vital early lead against Jürgen Klopp's men.
Dortmund were exceptionally quick off the mark in the transfer window this summer, and have strengthened their squad impressively with the additions of Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard, two of the Bundesliga's most gifted passers and chance creators. With that kind of service married to Alcacer's preternatural eye for goal, Dortmund look to have a devastating amount of firepower at their disposal.
The former Barcelona striker's pre-season performances will probably have convinced Favre that he can be more than just a super sub and be the main striker from kick-off, week-in week-out.
Another to make a name for himself in Seattle and Indiana was former Germany U21 international Marius Wolf. The winger opened Dortmund's account against the Sounders with a ferocious shot from just outside the box and looked lively for over an hour before making way for Thomas Delaney.
In his second American outing, against Liverpool, Wolf was even more impressive. He started the match on the bench, but joined the fray as part of a raft of half-time changes as Favre sought to take the game to the Champions League winners. It didn't take long before the rewards came.
Within ten minutes of the restart, Wolf orchestrated the move that would restore Dortmund's one-goal lead. Operating centrally, the 24-year-old spotted fellow substitute Hazard in a dangerous position on the other side of the pitch and sprayed a perfect pass to the Belgium international, who played the ball to an unmarked Delaney for the simplest of finishes.
Not happy with just a key pass, five minutes later, Wolf went hunting for more. Sensing a weakness in Liverpool's left side, the former Frankfurt man drove into space on the flank and cut the ball back to Jacob Bruun Larsen in the centre, who tucked away BVB's third.
Last season often saw Wolf playing as a full-back, instead of further up the pitch where his pace and directness can hurt opposition defences. With the likes of Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho, Mario Götze, and now Brandt and Hazard, Wolf will face stiff competition for a place in the Dortmund team. However, his performances across the Atlantic should be enough to convince Favre that the former Eintracht Frankfurt man offers an exciting dimension to BVB's attacking midfield.
Perhaps the greatest positive that Dortmund fans can take from their club's pre-season exploits is the chemistry and understanding between the players, including their new additions and academy prospects. The squad is clearly blessed with creativity, goalscoring, pace, and attacking verve and there is every reason believe that Favre and Dortmund can push Bayern Munich just as hard as they did last season and possibly topple the Bavarians’ Bundesliga dynasty in 2019/2020.
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