The United States is currently hosting the Centennial Copa America and head coach Jürgen Klinsmann is looking to a quartet of German-based players to help propel the USMNT through a tough group phase, into the last eight and hopefully beyond.
Borussia Dortmund's breakthrough midfield talent Christian Pulisic, Hertha Berlin centre-back John Anthony Brooks, Borussia Mönchengladbach all-rounder Fabian Johnson and in-form frontman Bobby Wood, fresh on the books at Hamburger SV from second-flight 1. FC Union Berlin, represent the joint-biggest single-league contingent, alongside England, of non-MLS players in the US squad. Two further mainstays of Klinsmann's side, Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley, are also very familiar faces to followers of the Bundesliga.
The pressure on them and, even more so, the coach himself, is considerable. Despite heavyweight competition from the likes of holders Chile and traditional global powerhouses Argentina and Brazil, the hosts headed into the 45th Copa – also the first played outside of South America – with high hopes of both showcasing the nation's suitability to stage another World Cup not too far down the line and, naturally, enjoying some solid onfield success. Klinsmann set the bar fairly high in advance, saying, "We want to make the semi-finals."
Alongside the tried-and-tested likes of keeper Tim Howard and forward Clint Dempsey, the 1990 FIFA World Cup winner has great expectations of the young guns from his own home league – not least BVB wunderkind Pulisic. The 17-year-old midfielder got off the mark for the national team in a 4-0 warm-up win against Bolivia, prompting Klinsmann to muse, "He's a very promising prospect, no doubt about it... scoring a senior international goal at that age is pretty special."
Less promising was a 2-0 loss to Colombia in their Group A opener but, in need of a swift response, the team delivered it with a resounding 4-0 victory over Costa Rica. Wood, Union's 17-goal top scorer this season, put them three to the good before half-time, becoming the first player on the books of a German club to score for the USMNT at the Copa America. A follow-up success against Paraguay at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday evening and Klinsmann's Bundesliga boys can start planning with their teammates for the hot phase of the tournament.