bundesliga

USA teenager Justin Che set for first-team role at Hoffenheim

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Hoffenheim head coach Sebastian Hoeneß has revealed his plans to blood newly signed American teenager Justin Che in the first team at the earliest available opportunity, just as he did with Chris Richards.

Richards first set foot on German soil when he joined Bayern Munich from FC Dallas after impressing during a May 2018 trial, as part of the two clubs' player development programme.

He worked under Hoeneß in the Bayern reserves and featured for the seniors in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League, before linking back up with his mentor at Hoffenheim last season.

The now six-time USMNT international defender is currently enjoying his second spell with the Sinsheim outfit, featuring in 17 of their 20 Bundesliga matches so far in 2021/22.

Watch: Chris Richards - at home at Hoffenheim

Che has also arrived at Hoffenheim from Dallas, via a stint with the Bayern reserves in Germany's Third Division.

The US youth international moved to the PreZeroArena on an 18-month loan in January, and could make his Bundesliga debut as early as the Matchday 21 meeting with Mainz, judging by what Hoeneß has had to say during the Bundesliga's mini-break.

"Che has a good combination of dynamism and other essential attributes for a defender. He's flexible, and can play on the right, in the middle or on the left of the defence," explained the Hoffenheim boss.

"He made a good impression with the Bayern reserves. He made his presence felt there without any problems. He's an exciting player, who can hopefully be a first-team option for us very quickly."

Che already has 15 Major League Soccer appearances under his belt to go with his eight outings for Bayern's second team.

The 18-year-old also received his first USMNT call-up in May 2021, but is yet to make his debut for Gregg Berhalter's side.

Hoffenheim have an option to buy the Texan, who is set to become the 63rd American to play in the Bundesliga.