John Brooks, Fabian Johnson and Jermaine Jones might never have turned out for the USA had former coach Jürgen Klinsmann not trawled his native Germany for Deutschamerikaners after taking the job in 2011. What if Gregg Berhalter - a veteran of Energie Cottbus and 1860 Munich - did the same thing today?
bundesliga.com outlines five bright young stars born in Germany, but still eligible to shine for the Stars and Stripes…
Nuremberg-born Timothy Tillman played for Germany at U16s-U19s level, but trained with Tab Ramos' US U20 team in 2018. Though he still has to submit a formal request to FIFA, he has indicated his desire to pledge his allegiance to his father's American homeland.
Tillman in red, white and blue is a tantalising prospect. He progressed seamlessly through the Bayern youth ranks - almost always a good sign - and played regularly for the reserves, before heading out on loan to promoted Nuremberg in summer 2018.
The Kingsley Coman-style midfielder made his Bundesliga debut against Hoffenheim on 10 March 2019, and has turned out twice in Germany's top tier since.
2) Malik Tillman
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: Bayern Munich
Footballing history is littered with examples of successful brothers – from the Charltons to the Nevilles, Socrates and Rai, Yaya and Kolo, the De Boers, and the Laudrups. Could the Tillmans be about to write their own fraternal chapter?
Timmy's younger brother, Malik, is also on the books at Bayern, and his progression has been no less impressive. The 16-year-old captained the U17s during the first half of 2018/19, producing 10 goals and six assists in 13 outings from attacking midfield, before being called up to the U19s in February 2019.
He's in no doubt where his club future lies, having signed a long-term deal through to 2021 earlier this season, but has a big decision to make on the international front: he's represented the Germany AND the USA juniors.
3) Maurice Malone
Club: Augsburg (U19s)
Maurice Malone has more than just a birthday in common with former Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona and New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry: he loves scoring goals.
The Augsburg hot-shot striker has plundered 11 goals in 20 Bundesliga Junior League appearances in 2018/19, building on the 34 efforts he snaffled away in his previous two campaigns in Bavaria - including a league-best 24 in 2016/17.
A first-team breakthrough is surely just around the corner for the free-scoring Germany U19 who, with the right paperwork, could go on to fill the boots of the USA's all-time top scorers Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey handsomely.
4) Justin Butler
Club: Bayern Munich (U19s)
Bayern youngster Justin Butler is another prime candidate for one of the vacancies in the US attack.
Butler was just 16 when he made his debut in a UEFA Youth League game for Bayern's U19s in October 2017. He made the permanent step-up the following campaign, having registered five goals and three assists for the U17s in 2017/18.
He's yet to fire in 13 appearances so far this season (three starts, 10 substitute outings), but a reserve-team cameo in Germany's fourth tier suggests he isn't being measured solely on his ability to put the ball in the net.
5) Kevin Lankford
Club: St. Pauli
The former Heidenheim midfielder is hardly short of first-team experience, though his 34 senior appearances have all come in Bundesliga 2 - not that playing in the second tier should be a disadvantage.
Ones to watch
Corey Lee Anton (Hoffenheim reserves)
Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg U17s)
Maximilian Göggel (VfB Stuttgart U17s)
Jaylen Hawkins (Ingolstadt U19s)
Noah Jones (RB Leipzig U17s)
Elias Thomas (Eintracht Braunschweig U19s)
Michael Wentzel (Borussia Mönchengladbach U17s)
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