Haji Wright scored on just his second start for Schalke in their defeat against Bayer Leverkusen. - © 2018 Getty Images
Haji Wright scored on just his second start for Schalke in their defeat against Bayer Leverkusen. - © 2018 Getty Images
bundesliga

American Haji Wright nets first goal for Schalke

Haji Wright has become the eighth American to score in the Bundesliga this season after netting in Schalke’s 2-1 defeat at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

An injury crisis at last season’s Bundesliga runners-up has seen Wright receive his chance, and the 20-year-old marked his fourth appearance in Germany’s top flight by striking in first-half injury-time.

After his compatriot and senior international Weston McKennie won a header from a corner, the USA youth international instinctively stuck out a boot to make it 2-1 from close range.

The Matchday 16 fixture marked the first time that two Americans had started a Bundesliga game in the same team since March 2013, when both Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams featured from the off for Hoffenheim - incidentally against Schalke.

Wright’s goal couldn’t prevent Schalke slumping to a ninth league defeat of the season, however, meaning that the Royal Blues stay 14th in the 18-team standings ahead of their final game before the winter break against third-from-bottom Stuttgart.

Los Angeles native Wright has added to the growing list of American goalscorers in this season’s Bundesliga, though, just over two weeks after 18-year-old Josh Sargent netted on his Bundesliga debut for Werder Bremen.

The leading American goalscorer in 2018/19 is senior international Bobby Wood, who has found the net three times for struggling Hannover.

Hannover's Bobby Wood, on loan from Hamburg, is the top American marksman in this year's Bundesliga. - 2018 Getty Images

Wolfsburg defender John Anthony Brooks scored in a 2-1 win over Schalke on the opening day of the campaign, while Borussia Dortmund attacker Christian Pulisic was on target for the league leaders against Hoffenheim in September. McKennie – who also netted a winner against Lokomotiv Moscow in the UEFA Champions League – got his first Bundesliga goal in Schalke’s win over Fortuna Düsseldorf in October.

Alfredo Morales has also been on the mark for newly promoted Düsseldorf, while Fabian Johnson’s goal on the opening weekend in a victory against Bayer Leverkusen helped set the tone for Borussia Mönchengladbach’s impressive campaign so far.

Wright, who moved to Germany in April 2016, spent last season on loan with second-tier side Sandhausen, before making his Bundesliga debut in Schalke's 5-2 win over Nuremberg in late November. The former New York Cosmos youngster has received further chances in recent weeks after established forwards Guido Burgstaller, Franco Di Santo, Breel Embolo and Mark Uth were all sidelined by injury.

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