USA fans will have their eyes trained on the Signal Iduna Park this weekend when Gio Reyna and Borussia Dortmund take on an Eintracht Frankfurt side soaring up the standings thanks to compatriot Timothy Chandler.
Having been made a full-time member of the senior setup during the winter break, Reyna hasn’t looked back.
He made his Dortmund debut in the 5-3 win over Augsburg on Matchday 18 and notched his first goal for the club courtesy of a stunning Goal of the Season contender against Werder Bremen in the DFB Cup.
Adi Hütter’s side are unbeaten during that run (W3, D1), a record they take with them to Dortmund and one that came having gone a miserable seven matches without a win (L6, D1) prior to their Chandler-inspired reboot at the start of 2020.
Dortmund’s form has also rocketed in tandem with Reyna’s presence in the first-team squad. The 2018/19 runners-up had won all four matches, scoring five in each one with the 17-year-old American on board, prior to the dramatic 4-3 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen last time out.
Their respective influences haven't gone unnoticed, with Lucien Favre hailing his teenage sensation as “a very intelligent player” that “can play in almost every position in any system.”
Over at the Commerzbank Arena, Chandler’s teammate Sebastian Rode says he’s “running out of superlatives” for the 29-year-old. He added of Chandler: “You have to ask what magic potion he’s been drinking. I’d like to have some of it myself, so that I can score a couple of goals, too!”
The pair will more than likely come up against each other on Friday, with Reyna pushing for a first league start following injuries to fellow creative sparks Marco Reus and Julian Brandt.
As highlighted by Favre, Reyna is able to play all across the front line and if given game time, he will often drift into areas occupied by Chandler on Frankfurt’s right flank.
It will prove one of Reyna’s toughest tests yet, taking on his fellow American that is 12 years his senior and has 29 international caps, as well as over 200 Bundesliga appearances to his name. Chandler has also won 78 challenges over the course of his 12 league games to date this season, at an average of 6.5 per game.
Watch: Timothy Chandler has been key to Eintracht Frankfurt's resurgent form in 2020
But little seems to faze Reyna, who told bundesliga.com recently: “I’ve come out of my shell and feel really ready to play now and help the team. Now that I’m there, I don’t have to be scared, and I can look fully forwards.”
In fact, he will likely relish the opportunity to test himself against a man who helped pave the way for USA soccer players plying their trade in Europe.
Since making his professional debut with Frankfurt in 2010, Chandler has cut a prominently visible figure in one of Europe’s top leagues for the likes of Reyna to look to for inspiration.
Should both continue on their current ascent, they may soon be lining up as international teammates rather than the opposite sides of their club rivalry.
Chandler hasn’t featured for the USA since Jürgen Klinsmann’s last game as coach in September 2016, but he is now proving hard to ignore for coach Gregg Berhalter as he contemplates his squad for friendlies against Netherlands and Wales next month.
With some USA regulars taking part in the U23s’ upcoming Olympic qualification campaign that runs at the same time as the senior internationals, it is a perfect opportunity for Berhalter to explore his options.
Reyna, too, is quickly forcing Berhalter’s hand and it is surely just a matter of time before the England-born midfielder makes his international debut.
The USA head coach has already said “Reyna excites me”, and Chandler’s re-emergence should do too.
What has been particularly impressive with Chandler is that he’s enjoying career-best form on the right-hand side of midfield, rather than at right-back.
He has increasingly operated in a more advanced role for Frankfurt in recent weeks but has rarely done so for his country, suggesting that he might have made - and could yet make - an greater impact for the national side if deployed further up the pitch.
The wonderkid taking on his forgotten countryman playing the best football of his life, under Friday night lights and in front of one of the most iconic structures in world football. What better way to kick off your weekend...?