USA U20 internationals Sebastian Soto and Chris Gloster look set to play a bigger role at Hannover next season after developing well at the club in 2018/19 and playing leading roles in their country's FIFA U20 World Cup 2019 campaign this summer.
The duo helped the Stars and Stripes advance to the quarter-finals at the tournament in Poland, with Soto hitting four goals in five outings – including two in a 3-2 win over a much-fancied France side in the last 16 – to sit second in the top scorers' chart behind Norway's Erling Haland. In addition to his ruthless finishing, the 18-year-old Californian also impressed with his all-round game, something Hannover have long been aware of.
After joining the club in July 2018, Soto registered 17 goals and six assists in 24 appearances in his debut season for the U19s, prompting his promotion to the first team towards the end of the campaign. He made his Bundesliga debut in a 3-1 defeat to Wolfsburg on Matchday 28, and two further brief substitute outings against Borussia Mönchengladbach and Hertha Berlin.
"He's got talent, he's audacious, direct and is a good lad," said first-team coach Thomas Doll after giving the teenager his first taste of senior football in April. "He's an U20 international and could well be the future of Hannover. That's important."
Soto himself is equally happy at the 96ers. "I didn't know how it would go for me without my friends around me," he said of his move last year. "I'm really very thankful to Hannover for the way they've taken care of me."
Now a year older and wiser, the forward looks set to be given greater first-team opportunities in the 2019/20 season following the club's relegation to Bundesliga 2. Several regulars in the squad - including fellow strikers Ihlas Bebou, Niklas Füllkrug and compatriot Bobby Wood – will no longer be at the club to compete for a place in the side.
Gloster will likewise be hopeful of a chance to showcase his talents at the highest level. Hannover switched between Miko Albornoz and Matthias Ostrzolek at left-back last term, so Gloster's consistency in that position could provide a welcome solution to that particular selection headache.
The 18-year-old left-back provided three assists in 16 appearances for the reserves in his debut campaign in Germany, having moved to Hannover from the New York Red Bulls academy in July 2018.
He underlined that ability at the U20 World Cup, where he played in every game for Tab Ramos' side and teed up Soto to score in the group match against Nigeria. "Hannover's like a family to me," said Gloster before the defeat to Ecuador in the last eight on Saturday. "It's the right place for me to continue my development." Bundesliga 2, watch out!