Germany and the USA have a rich and storied history on and off the field. Fabian Johnson might be the best example of a soccer player who starred for both nations – winning the European U19 Championship with the former in 2009 before racking up 57 caps and counting with the latter – and there could be plenty more where he came from.
bundesliga.com has trawled the youth landscape in Germany to bring you the 10 most promising youngsters who are still eligible for both countries at full international level…
1) Malik Tillman
Age: 17 (b. May 28, 2002 in Nuremberg)
International allegiance: Germany (U18 cap)/USA (U15 cap)
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Bayern Munich
Malik Tillman joined the Bayern youth academy when he was 13, his move to the record German champions coming about as part of the club’s bid to sign his elder brother Timothy, who in the summer of 2015 was regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in the game. Bayern won a Europe-wide race to sign Timothy from Greuther Fürth whilst also giving Malik a space at the FC Bayern Campus.
It is still early days for both brothers, but their career trajectories seem to have swapped in recent seasons. Timothy spent last season on loan at Nuremberg, for whom he made one Bundesliga start, and is yet to play for Bayern's reserves this term. Malik, meanwhile, has been top scoring for the club's U19s with 10 goals in 13 games, 12 of them starts… despite being just 17… and playing in midfield!
Malik's pace, power and technique mean his late breaks into the box are hard for opposition defenders to pick up. The US clocked his ability years ago, giving him his U15 debut days after his 14th birthday. Germany called him up to the same age group before he had turned 15, and he is now part of their U18 set-up.
2) Maurice Malone
Age: 19 (b. August 17, 2000 in Augsburg)
International allegiance: Germany (U19 cap)/USA (uncapped)
Born in Augsburg to a German mother and American father, Malone has thus far prioritised playing for the country of his birth. The left-footed forward has been a Germany youth team regular since making his debut aged 16, and has three goals in 13 appearances for their underage teams, with whom he is now capped up to U19 level.
Malone was on the bench for Augsburg's first team in the opening-day 5-1 loss at Borussia Dortmund, and if Die Fuggerstädter were reluctant to throw him in that day, a team-high nine goals in 17 games for the reserves this season may have turned their heads.
Those numbers and Malone's height - he stands at 6' on the button - may lead casual observers to believe that he's an out-and-out centre-forward, but Malone does his best work in a withdrawn role on the left. He may share a birthday and preferred position with a certain Thierry Henry, but if he can work on his shooting, Malone may come to more closely resemble the Frenchman's former Arsenal teammate Lukas Podolski.
That would be a boon for Germany or the USA.
3) Jalen Hawkins
Age: 18 (b. January 24, 2001 in Regensburg)
International allegiance: USA (U20 cap)/Germany (uncapped)
A year younger than Malone, Hawkins is another of the brightest attacking prospects to have come out of Bavarian youth football in recent seasons, although he is something of a mirror image of the Augsburg man. Hawkins is right-footed and prefers lining up on the right; Malone is a lefty on the left, and where Malone has only ever represented Germany, Hawkins has almost exclusively turned out for the Stars and Stripes so far, despite being born in Regensburg.
Hawkins began his career with Ingolstadt before signing for Bayern in 2016, but with the path to full professional progression obscured - David Alaba was the last academy graduate to break into the champions' first-team in 2010 - he returned to his first club last summer, taking fellow German-American attacker Justin Butler with him.
The hour drive north has done both youngsters good, although Hawkins has been slightly more productive, chipping in with a team-high four goals and one assist from the wing, whereas Augsburg-born Butler has scored three from the point of Die Schanzer's attack.
4) Lennard Maloney
Age: 20 (b. October 8, 1999 in Berlin)
International allegiance: USA (U20 cap)/Germany (U19 cap)
Club: Union Berlin
Maloney was born in Berlin to a German mother and American US Air Force veteran father. He joined Union's youth academy aged 13, and, already a physically imposing 6'1" centre-back by the time he had turned 18, was handed his first-team debut the April before last, playing 77 minutes on the right of a back three in Die Eisernen's narrow 2-1 loss at Fürth.
Maloney has spent much of the time since studying for the high school qualifications which might eventually get the bilingual youngster into university - hence his appearances at club level in the season-and-a-half since have dried up - but that hasn't stopped Union handing him a contract valid through 2021.
"We're excited to see how he'll develop when his full focus is on the sport," sporting director Oliver Ruhnert told the club's official website. "Then it'll be important for him to get game time." The US will be happy to blood him again, too. When he played for their U20s against Jamaica last July, they ran out 3-1 winners.
5) Max Göggel
Age: 17 (b. January 27, 2002 in San Francisco, California)
International allegiance: Germany (U17 cap)/USA (U17 cap)
Club: VfB Stuttgart
Now a ball-playing centre-back for Stuttgart's U19s, an 11-year-old Göggel can be seen doing keepy-uppies Ronaldinho-style in the Californian sunshine on YouTube, work having taken his German family to San Francisco before he was born in 2002. Silk rather than Silicon Valley are more the young Maximilian's bag, though.
A regular starter for VfB Stuttgart's U17s last season, Göggel helped Die Jungen Wilden’s U19s win the DFB Junior Cup before making the step up on a full-time basis in the summer. Two years younger than some of his teammates, Göggel has nonetheless made it off the bench nine times this season.
Although normally a centre-back, Göggel's technique and reading of the game means he can also do a job in midfield, taking the ball off the toe of a defender and distributing. It's something he has done for both the USA and Germany at U17 level. He first turned out for the country of his birth in December 2017, but more recently joined up with Germany, playing twice at the U17 Algarve Tournament in February.
The Stuttgart academy has produced much of the current Germany team - Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry and Joshua Kimmich to name a few. Whether Göggel will be the next to join them remains to be seen, but the early signs are good.
6) Pablo Soares
Age: 17 (b. March 8, 2001 in New York City, New York)
International allegiance: USA (U18 cap)/Germany (U18 cap)/Brazil (uncapped)
Position: Defensive midfielder
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Born in New York to a German mother and Brazilian father, Soares moved to Germany with his parents as a youngster and joined the Gladbach youth academy at the age of six. His progress with the young Foals has been meteoric, and he currently plays two age groups ahead of the curve, starting all 14 games for the league leaders' U19s this term, helping them to five clean sheets and chipping in with two assists.
Fellow German-American Michael Wentzel, also 17, has featured for 121 minutes this season, but Soares is already a cornerstone of the team, whether he is anchoring the midfield or filling in at left-back. Previously part of the Germany U18 set-up, Soares made his debut for the US at the same age level in November - a 2-0 loss to the nation's U17s, although he was subbed off with the scores 0-0 at half-time.
The Gladbach academy has previously produced players such as Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Mahmoud Dahoud, while Jordan Beyer was the most recent to graduate to the first team. Fluent in English, German and Portuguese, Soares speaks the language of football and will likely be one of the next to make the step up. If he continues his progress there could also be a three-way international tussle for his allegiance on the horizon.
7) Ian Hoffmann
Age: 18 (b. September 8, 2001 in Wilton, Connecticut)
International allegiance: USA (U20 cap)/Germany (U18 cap)
Club: Karlsruher SC
Hoffmann was born in the States to American parents, although as his surname may suggest, his father - a former college soccer star who rubbed shoulders with USA '94 veterans like Tab Ramos, Tony Meola and John Harks - is of German descent.
Work took father Andrew and the rest of the Hoffmann family to Germany a few years ago, and after taking his first steps in the game with Cologne, Ian moved to Karlsruhe in 2017. The top scorer for their U17s last season, he now turns out for their U19s, for whom he has three goals in 12 starts so far this term.
A string-pulling No.10 for his club, the two-footed Hoffmann has been used as a full-back for the USA, demonstrating impressive adaptability despite his tender years. "Of course, I've got a lot to work on but attacking's what I love" he told American Soccer Now. "I also think versatility's one of my strengths."
Which side of the pond - never mind the area of the field - Hoffmann's coming career lies may still be open, but the future looks bright from every angle.
8) Maximilian Dietz
Age: 17 (b. February 9, 2002 in New York City, New York)
International allegiance: USA (U17 cap)/Germany (uncapped)
Position: Central midfielder
Raised in Frankfurt, Maximilian Dietz is perhaps the owner of the most German-sounding name on this list, but the Freiburg midfielder was born in New York and has chosen to represent his country of birth to date, joining Dortmund prodigy Gio Reyna in the American squad for the recent FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil.
A tall but svelte central midfielder, "Maxi" has a natural fitness which helps assuage his self-confessed love of hamburgers. A winner of a state championship as an U17 last season, this term Dietz has graduated to Freiburg's U19s, for whom he has featured 11 times, scoring once. A player most likely to play the pass before the pass, Dietz looks set to dine on further titles in his career, and Germany's loss could prove to be the USA's gain in this case.
9) Noah Jones
Age: 17 (b. March 18, 2002 in Berlin)
International allegiance: USA (U17 cap)/Germany (uncapped)/Turkey (uncapped)
Club: RB Leipzig
A native of Berlin like current USMNT centre-back John Brooks, Noah Jones operates at the other end of the field for Leipzig's underage teams, although he has also passed through the Wolfsburg ranks like the defensive Deutschamerikaner nine years his senior.
Already a 6'-tall striker who only turned 17 in March, Jones scored three and assisted one more in 10 games for Leipzig's U17s last season. He has made the step up to the U19s this term, but injuries have rather curtailed his progress, and he has only played 77 minutes for Alexander Blessin's age group.
Also eligible to represent Turkey if his Instagram is to be believed, Jones scored the winner for the USA's U17s in a 1-0 win over the Turks in November, heading home Jack De Vries's cross 16 minutes into their clash in Florida. Gladbach's Soares was also on the bench that day.
10) Leon Flach
Age: 18 (b. February 28, 2001 in Humble, Texas)
International allegiance: Germany (U18 cap)/USA (uncapped)
Position: Defensive midfielder
Club: St. Pauli
Born in Humble, Texas, Flach's career to date has been anything but. A central midfielder who can also fill in at left-back, Flach started playing soccer in Ratekau, just north of Lübeck in Northern Germany, at the age of five, before making his way into the St. Pauli academy by the time he was 15.
The left-footer has taken the step up in class in his stride, playing with Die Kiezkicker's U19s since the tender age of 16. Germany took note, and gave him his U18 debut in April - a 1-0 loss to Austria in which the hosts scored with their only shot on target (Germany had nine attempted, four of them on target, that day).
Flach described the game as fulfilling "an absolute childhood dream" which gave him "goosebumps". Germany - or perhaps the USA if they're quick - will be looking forward to having the youngster back next year, with a knee surgery interrupting his progress for now.
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