USMNT World Cup roster features plenty of Bundesliga flavour
The likes of Gio Reyna and Joe Scally are Bundesliga regulars with Borussias Dortmund and Mönchengladbach while their USMNT teammates Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and captain Tyler Adams - among others - also took an important career step in Germany's top division.
"I think [the Bundesliga] is a good mix for American players: it’s the perfect spot for American players when they arrive into Europe. It’s good mix of physicality, technicality and also tactical awareness. It think it’s a perfect mix and first stop for Americans on the European trip."
So said current Los Angeles FC coach Steve Cherundolo, the man who made 415 appearances - and over 300 in the Bundesliga - for Hannover during 15 years with Die Roten. Cherundolo enjoyed 87 appearances for the USMNT and went to three World Cups during a distinguished international career. With several of the Stars and Stripes players currently in action in in Qatar with links past and present to Germany's top division, bundesliga.com casts an eye over those who have arrived onto the world stage having been formed in our favourite European league.
Tyler Adams - Leeds United, ex-RB Leipzig
The youngest captain at this year's FIFA World Cup, Adams packs plenty of experience into his tender 23 years. And the American midfielder learned plenty of that know-how in his four seasons in the Bundesliga with Leipzig. Transferring to Germany's top flight from New York Red Bulls in 2019, Adams went on to feature in 75 Bundesliga games for Die Roten Bullen, winning DFB Cup honours and helping the Saxony-based side to reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in the 2019/20 season. It was in fact his goal - his first of two for the club - that beat Atletico Madrid in the quarters.
"I was fortunate to go to Leipzig because every single player [there] is a young player that has so much talent and we compete every day to make each other better," Adams said during his successful stay at the Red Bull Arena. "I think for Americans, they're confident in coming to Germany because other Americans are playing and succeeding," the current Leeds United player added. "I believe the most important thing that you see in Germany is that every single team is giving these young players an opportunity to play. And you know, you can't show what you're capable of unless you're on the field and you're playing."
Adams made his USMNT debut in a 1-1 friendly draw against Portugal in 2017 while his sole goal with the senior Stars and Stripes came in a 1-0 victory against Mexico in Nashville in December 2018. Now he captains his country at their first World Cup in eight years.
Christian Pulisic - Chelsea, ex-Borussia Dortmund
"All that I brought with me to Germany was a dream." Pulisic's words that summed up his high hopes when he moved to Germany and joined Borussia Dortmund as a 16-year-old make for poetic reading now, given the exciting attacker's formidable rise to the top of the world game. Dortmund's loss was Chelsea's gain when the Hershey native switched to the English Premier League in 2019, but the memories left behind in during his stay in the Bundesliga live on.
Watch: Christian Pulisic - made in the Bundesliga
After making his top-flight league debut for BVB as a 17-year-old, Pulisic went on to rack up 127 appearances in all competitions for Die Schwarzgelben, scoring 19 goals and laying on 26 assists. Of his formative years in Dortmund, Pulisic once said, "For a soccer player, those years are everything. From a developmental perspective, it's almost like this sweet spot, where a player's growth and skill sort of intersect in just the right way; where a player can make their biggest leap in development by far."
Handed his Bundesliga debut by Thomas Tuchel, the tactician raved about a player who would break several appearance and age-related scoring records as the attacker's reputation quickly took flight. "We see his techniques and his ability to adapt to this level every day in training, and that's why we trust him," Tuchel said, as the boy Pulisic began rewarding his coach with eye-opening performances and goals.
Like his current USMNT teammate Adams, Pulisic also lifted the DFB Cup during his time in Germany, and when it came time for him to call it a day with the Black-and-Yellows, the Pennsylvania star wrote, "I would not be where I am today without [Dortmund] and their belief in giving young players a chance. It's been an honour and a dream to pull on the black-and-yellow in front of the Südtribüne."
Gio Reyna - Borussia Dortmund
Born in England to a one-time Bundesliga playing father Claudio, Reyna Junior has been described as one of the most exciting young talents in the game today. Following a 2021/22 season-filled with injury woes, the attacking midfielder has made a confident comeback with Dortmund right in time for the start of America's tilt at the 2022 World Cup.
Reyna's Bundesliga rise is not all that dissimilar to his USMNT teammate Pulisic, given that the former was also on the books at BVB as a 16-year-old and soon impressing with his attacking skills. The recently turned 20-year-old made his Bundesliga debut in 2019 and was once even the division's youngest goalscorer. He went on to become the youngest American to play and assist in the Champions League and it was of little surprise when he made his senior international bow under current USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter in a scoreless friendly against Wales in 2020.
Trophies have since followed with the 6'1" attacking midfielder collecting DFB Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup honours in 2021. Now just seven games shy of a century of appearances for Dortmund, Reyna is delighted to be flying again following a 2021/22 season to forget.
Watch: Reyna & Scally - Bundesliga buddies
"For me, in my first start, it was to try to help the team and bring energy from the first minute," Borussia's No. 7 said after marking his comeback appearance with a goal against Stuttgart earlier this season. On teaming up with his American colleagues again, Reyna previously said, “It’s such a great group of guys that we have and I was bummed out missing it last year and it’s nice to get a break from Germany and hang out with a few Americans. It’s great, and always an honour to represent your country."
Joe Scally - Borussia Mönchengladbach
A former New York City FC full back, Scally made his Bundesliga bow in a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich last season and was subsequently in the Gladbach side that thumped the Bavarian giants 5-0 in the DFB Cup. After rising through the international ranks with the US, he now has a chance to perform on the highest stage of them all: the World Cup. "When we see him going against [Leroy] Sane or Alphonso Davies on the side and he's being tested, he's standing up to these tests," coach Berhalter said of the versatile defender.
"He's really gone from 0 to 100. I have never seen a young player that goes into challenges as hard as he does, while not being nasty. He's very aggressive, athletic and in great shape," Gladbach sporting director Roland Virkus added of a player who has come on leaps and bounds in the Bundesliga.
Weston McKennie - Juventus, ex Schalke
Now a midfielder of top repute, McKennie's journey into the big time began with Schalke, where the midfielder rapidly learned the ropes and developed the hunger that has made him such a success with Juventus and the USMNT. "Schalke were the ones that gave me an opportunity and believed in me when others didn't, so I owe them a lot," the 24-year-old once said of his time in Gelsenkirchen with the Royal Blues.
Having recently won promotion back to the Bundesliga and currently battling to gain a foothold in the top flight once more this term, Die Knappen were second-placed finishers when McKennie was at the club back in 2017/18. During that successful run, the Texan noted, "My style of play matches what the city represents. That's why I feel at home here and I'm happy here as well." Having played 91 games for Schalke - including 75 in the Bundesliga and six in the Champions League - the battling midfielder would go on to become Juventus's first-ever American signing.
Watch: McKennie's roots
Before that, however, McKennie said of his time in Germany, "The reason the Bundesliga is one of the top leagues in the world and one of the leagues many of us are coming to is that they give opportunity. For improving your craft there's no better place for young players to be than Germany. Over here you learn discipline, professionalism and work rate really quick.
Josh Sargent - Norwich City, ex-Werder Bremen
Sargent made his USMNT debut in 2018 while a playing at Werder, the club with whom he would go on to represent 83 times, scoring 15 goals and providing nine assists over three seasons. The highly versatile forward has since brought up his international caps tally to 20, registering five senior goals along the way.
Having once trained with Schalke, Sargent arrived at Werder as an 18-year-old in January 2018 and famously scored on his debut for Die Grünweißen with his first touch of the ball. He also netted on his senior US bow, a 3-0 friendly win over Bolivia on 29 May 2018.
Now working for the Werder scouting department, Clemens Fritz once said of Sargent - currently playing for Norwich - "The amount of work he puts in, the stability he gives us in terms of defence - I've been really impressed by the way he's executing all that. Josh is such an unbelievable team player." High praise indeed for the player who took a major career step in the the Bundesliga.
Haji Wright - Antalyaspor, ex-Schalke and Sandhausen
Currently plying his trade in Turkey, LA native Wright was a regular presence at USMNT youth level when he rocked up at Schalke in 2016. A successful start to life with the Royal Blues' U19 team preceded a Bundesliga debut two years later, the 6' 3" forward getting some game time in a win against Nuremberg. In all, the 24-year-old - who made a senior goalscoring debut for the USMNT last June - made seven senior appearances for Schalke while he also enjoyed a loan spell at second-tier Sandhausen in 2017/18.
Gregg Berhalter - USMNT coach, ex-Cottbus
USMNT coach Berhalter has much in common with many of those presently under his guidance in Qatar. A significant part of the 49-year-old's playing career was spent in Germany with Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich while he also graduated with his coaching licence from the Hennes-Weisweiler Academy in Cologne.
In what was one of many highs during his time with Cottbus, Berhalter captained the side back to the Bundesliga with promotion in 2005/06. Along with making a combined total of 196 appearances at club level in Germany, the former MLS Cup champion made it to the 2002 and 2006 World Cups as a player.
5 reasons Dortmund will beat Chelsea - AGAIN!
Europe's form team and a first-leg advantage - why shouldn't Bellingham & Co. finish the job in London...?
BVB's Gio Reyna with plenty to celebrate
The Black-and-Yellow's match winner in consecutive games now has his sights set on Sunday's cracking encounter in Leverkusen.
Who is Gio Reyna?
bundesliga.com shines the light on Dortmund's American Dream...