USA youth international Taylor Booth joined Bayern Munich to realise his dream of turning pro. - © FC Bayern München
USA youth international Taylor Booth joined Bayern Munich to realise his dream of turning pro. - © FC Bayern München
bundesliga

Taylor Booth: 5 things on Bayern Munich's American teen prodigy

He took a leaf out of Christian Pulisic's book to get to Germany and has a hint of Weston McKennie about his budding game - but what else is there to know about Bayern Munich's American prospect, Taylor Booth? bundesliga.com finds out...

1) The Pulisic pass

No, not a move patented by Borussia Dortmund's former American whizz-kid, but Booth's path to Germany. Pulisic was able to join BVB long before turning 18 after acquiring a European Union passport, courtesy of his Croatian paternal grandfather. He made his Bundesliga debut at 17, and went on to break all manner of records for club and country during a career-shaping stint in the German top tier.

Booth is yet to make the step up to the senior Bayern team, having joined the record champions as a 17-year-old in January 2019 after levering Italian heritage on his father's side, but has scored once in seven outings in an injury-hit spell for the club's U19s.

"Playing for Bayern is a dream come true," Booth said after penning a three-and-a-half-year deal though to summer 2022. "I have grown up watching this club since I was a young boy, so to finally be here is an unbelievable feeling."

2) The Booth gene and one very cool basement

Booth's vocation in soccer is no great surprise - you might say it was written in the Stars and Stripes. His Dad, Chad, played collegiate soccer at Weber State and coached a young Taylor for several years, while his Mum, Kelli, earned All-Region, All-State and All-American honours and received a scholarship to Utah State, before a series of ACL injuries forced her into early retirement.

Taylor's older brother, Carver, also played for Weber High, having perfected his art up against his soccer-crazed sibling in the Booth family basement. Free of partition walls and with the added bonus of high ceilings, Chad and Kelli took the prize for Parents of the Year by decking out the vacant lower level of their home with artificial turf, essentially turning it into an indoor soccer pitch.

"He plays down there every day, kicking the ball against the wall and practising," Kelli recalled of the 13-year-old Taylor, in an interview with Deseret News. "I've replaced the same window twice. Now we need to figure out how to protect it!"

3) La Roca to Real Salt Lake

When not inadvertently bumping up his parents' home insurance premium, Taylor could be found running the show at La Roca, a Utah club run by Adolfo Ovalle.

"Another parent told me about him," Ovalle told Goal. "He said, 'There's a good little central midfielder. He's little.' I said, well, bring him. I want to see him. And when he brings him to my tryout I genuinely loved his game. I loved him right away.

"I was like, this kid is the youngest on the field, he’s the shortest on the field, but his vision is super clean. He had a really good first touch and played simple soccer. He is definitely in the top 10 of all the players I've coached over the last 14 years, and I'm talking about guys who are playing on the professional level now."

Ovalle duly pointed Taylor in the direction of Real Salt Lake's junior academy, where he remained for several seasons before turning down a homegrown deal in favour of joining Bayern.

"Taylor's and extremely talented player, and that's why we wanted to keep him home," RSL general manager Craig Waibel said. "But when you go to a club like Bayern, the biggest thing is getting those minutes, and Taylor understands the challenge in front of him. I don't think it will surprise anyone when he finds his way onto the field in their youth levels."

Booth (l.) will be eligible for the US U20s at at the 2021 FIFA U20 World Cup. - getty

4) Overcoming adversity

That young Taylor has already met expectation in his short time at Bayern is all the more impressive given his struggles as an infant.

Booth was born with Torticollis, a condition that that causes the neck to twist, causing head tilt and resulting in insufficient blood flow to the neck muscles.

"It was really bad," his mother recalled. "He went to physical therapy as an infant and he screamed constantly. Sometimes the condition will cure itself, but he had it so bad that he had to do therapy. This kid had to have therapy for the first five months of his life, around the clock, and he was a crybaby who didn't like getting his neck stretched.

"And now he's gone from needing physical therapy as a baby to being on the US National Team - and he thinks it's normal. What he doesn't realise is that there was a time when we just thought, 'I hope his lungs work and his brain works.'"

5) A cerebral midfielder in the McKennie mould, inspired by Henry and Beckham

Blessed to have all his faculties intact, Booth has represented the USA at every youth level up to his current stationing with the U19s. He started out as a forward, before making the switch to midfield.

"I can play anywhere in the midfield - I prefer 8 or 10 cause I like more of an attacking role," Booth told Goal. "I prefer a free, roaming role, I can always get on the ball. I love to have the ball at my feet. I love being involved in the game, getting my teammates involved in the game and I love to be able to dictate the tempo of the game."

Despite the obvious passport and positional comparisons with Schalke and USMNT cornerstone McKennie, Booth's attacking tendencies are born of many an hour spent dreaming away behind a computer scream, watching two soccer legends of the late nineties/noughties.

"Thierry Henry and David Beckham," he said of the respective France and England greats. "I can remember when I was younger just watching them on YouTube all day dreaming that one day it could be me."

One day it might, Taylor, one day it might...