Berlin-born, but eligible to play for the USA, Union Berlin defender Lennard Maloney is patiently awaiting his breakout season as a professional. bundesliga.com profiles the US U20 international...
Club: Union Berlin
Country: USA (U20 cap)/Germany (U9 cap)
Born to an American Air Force veteran father and German mother in Berlin, Maloney joined the Union academy at the age of 13 in 2012. He swiftly progressed up through the age categories and became a mainstay in the U19 side in 2017/18, making 23 appearances. The teenager impressed then first-team head coach Andre Hofschneider so much that he was handed his senior debut in Bundesliga 2 on Matchday 28 that season – at the tender age of 18. He was in the starting line-up and played at right-back for 77 minutes of a 2-1 defeat to Greuther Fürth.
Maloney barely featured for his club at any level in 2018/19 as he divided his time between training and studying for his Abitur, the German equivalent of A-Levels or a High School leaving certificate, but now that he's passed his exams, he's eager to focus on his playing career: "After an extremely challenging year in which I had my hands full on two fronts, I now want to break through and give my all to repay the club's faith in me."
Maloney signed a contract extension in April 2019, keeping him at Union until June 2021, but spent the second half of the season on loan at Chemnitzer in Germany's Third Division. Despite making eight appearances - including his first win and clean sheet as a Chemnitz player against Preußen Münster on Matchday 33 - he could not prevent the Saxony outfit from being relegated on the final day of the 2019/20 campaign due to unfavourable results elsewhere.
That didn't dull Dortmund's interest, though, and he has signed on to play for Die Schwarzgelben's U23s for the 2020/21 season.
Plays a bit like: John Brooks
A Berlin-born, German-American who's started his career in the capital city and plays at centre-back? No, it's not Brooks, although the similarities are striking. The hulking Wolfsburg rock is even Maloney's favourite player. Standing at 6'1", the muscular defender is strong in the tackle and at ease in possession, and is able to bring the ball out from the back and transition into attack.
Did you know?
Maloney, a self-styled "Germarican," as he calls himself on Instagram, holds dual German-American citizenship and speaks both languages fluently. He represented Germany twice at U18 level and once for the U19s before switching allegiance to the US, and has recently joined up regularly with the U20 roster.
The defender appeared in low-key friendlies against North Carolina FC and Tobacco Road FC in July 2018, and also featured in the squads that faced Jamaica and Venezuela in September last year as part of an ensemble that also included the likes of Chris Richards (Bayern Munich), Brady Scott (formerly of Cologne), Chris Gloster (formerly of Hannover) and Alex Mendez (ex-Freiburg).
What they're saying
"Lennard is a young player with a lot of potential. As a school pupil, he's so far had to divide his energy between professional football and his academic studies. We're excited to see how he develops when he's able to focus exclusively on football. It'll be important to give him game time." – Union sporting director Oliver Ruhnert
"Playing for the United States is one of my greatest dreams. Of course it's also nice to play for Germany. But deep inside my heart, I really want to play for the USA. I don't know why, this feeling is just there." - Lennard Maloney, to AmericanSoccerNow
"Lennard fully convinced us in a test match and also in training. He's really looking forward to his new job." - Dortmund U23 coach Ingo Preuß