The Bundesliga is continuing to produce talented players who can shine at the biggest tournaments around the world. bundesliga.com profiles the six Germany-based players who have made the United States’ squad for this month’s U20 World Cup in Poland.
The USA will kick off their campaign with a group game against Ukraine in Bielsko-Biala on 24 May, before also taking on Nigeria and Qatar as part of their bid to make the knockout stage. Half a dozen players on the books of Bundesliga clubs will expect to play their part.
New Jersey native Gloster has wasted little time in moving up the ranks since arriving in Germany last summer. The teenager from South Orange played a handful of games for Hannover’s U19 side before making 16 league appearances for the reserves this term. Inspired by the likes of Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Josh Sargent, he played alongside the latter at the U17 World Cup in 2017. Gloster was previously at New York Red Bulls, where RB Leipzig midfielder Tyler Adams also started his career.
Llanez turned 18 at the start of April and can officially link up with the Wolfsburg first team when the transfer window opens on 1 June. Right footed but capable of playing on either wing, the Californian made great strides at Los Angeles Galaxy, scoring 48 goals in 79 games at youth level before netting twice in 10 appearances for Galaxy II in the 2018 United Soccer League campaign. He has been in Wolfsburg for the past few weeks and has played in three friendlies with the U19s, even scoring twice in a 4-1 win over JFV Calenberger Land on 19 April.
Position: Central midfielder
Another product of the LA Galaxy academy, Mendez signed a professional contract with Freiburg in October 2018. A month later, he netted eight times at the CONCACAF U20 Championship – including twice in the final against Mexico – and got six assists. He was named 2018 U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year as a result, and has scored three goals in 12 matches for Freiburg’s U19 team this season. The left-footed midfielder from Los Angeles made his professional debut with Galaxy II before completing his switch to Germany.
Bayern initially brought in Richards as part on a one-year loan agreement, but the defending Bundesliga champions and league leaders signed him on a permanent basis in January. The defender has already played in glamour friendlies for Bayern’s first team against Juventus, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, and he has featured 21 times for the U19s this season. From Birmingham, Alabama, Richards was formerly at FC Dallas, who last year penned a partnership agreement with the record German champions.
Watch: See what Richards was hoping for when he signed for Bayern
From Petaluma in California, Scott joined Cologne in July 2017 and will have been relieved to see the Billy Goats seal a swift return to the top flight earlier this month. Although he trains with them often, the teenager has yet to feature for Cologne’s first team. Having turned pro rather than take up an offer to play at the University of Virginia, however, he featured 13 times for the Bundesliga 2 winners’ reserve side this season. The former De Anza player was the third-choice goalkeeper for the USMNT at the 2017 U20 World Cup in South Korea, acting as a back-up to Hertha Berlin’s Jonathan Klinsmann.
Another Californian in the US squad, Soto has made impressive progress since leaving Real Salt Lake for Hannover in August 2018. He has netted 17 goals in 24 matches for the club’s U19 side this season, and made his debut for the first team as a substitute in the 3-1 loss at Wolfsburg on Matchday 28. Two more brief appearances followed in April, meaning his childhood dream of playing in Europe has already become a reality.