It's a fitting coincidence that Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Mate Pulisic - the most exciting American soccer player to make landfall in Germany - shares a name with the first Stateside export to dip his toes in the Bundesliga.

Not only that, but their ancestral roots and pathways to the German top tier are not all that different, either.

The trailblazer in question is the late Andy Mate. Born in Hungary, Mate represented Budapest outfit Upjest Dozsa, before moving to the USA following the Hungarian revolution in 1956. He joined New York Hungaria in the German-American Soccer League, winning the league title and the U.S. National Challenge Cup in 1962

Mate scored all three goals as Hungaria beat Mexican champions CD Oro to claim the CONCACAF Champions Cup a year later, but it was his strike in an All-Star game against Bundesliga founding members Hamburg that took him back across the pond to Europe for the start of the 1964/65 Bundesliga campaign.

Watch: Top 10 Bundesliga goals by Americans

"It was natural for me to score," Mate once said of his playing days. "My success on the field was due to my quickness and ability to battle for every ball and shoot from different angles.  Our coach [Geza] Henni always told the team 'give the ball to Andy, he'll score, and we'll win'."

With prolific HSV hero Uwe Seeler for company, Mate was restricted to just six Bundesliga appearances, scoring two goals - against Borussia Neunkirchen and Meidericher SV. He returned to the States after just one year, going on to represent the Philadelphia Spartans, the New York Generals and joining the New York Cosmos in time for the inaugural North American Soccer League (NASL) season in 1971. His one and only international appearance came in the USA's chastening 10-0 defeat to England in May 1964.

Top scorer in the Bundesliga's maiden campaign, Uwe Seeler (l.) was and still is an institution at Hamburg. © imago

After Mate, who passed away on 13 May 2012 at the age of 71, not a single American played in the Bundesliga until Tom Dooley helped Homburg work their way up from the third tier to Germany's top table by the end of 1985/86. He later captured the German Cup (1990) and the Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern (1991), as well as the UEFA Cup with Schalke (1997), either side of a one-season stint at Bayer Leverkusen. The retired defender is the only American in history to get his hands on the Bundesliga title.

Since then, there has been a steady flow of U.S. soccer talent to the Bundesliga, including legendary forward Landon Donovan (Leverkusen and Bayern Munich) and USMNT international Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach).

Tom Dooley made 199 Bundesliga appearances between 1986-1997. © imago

The current Bundesliga roster boasts 10 Americans, in John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Fabian Johnson (Gladbach), Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha Berlin), Caleb Stanko (Freiburg), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Josh Sargent (Bremen), Bobby Wood (Hamburg) and, of course, Pulisic.

Dortmund's star draw, 19, has been making waves in the Bundesliga - and subsequently at international level - since making his debut in January 2016. He became the third-youngest player in history to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances earlier this season and the youngest to be named U.S. Men's Soccer Player of the Year.

Watch: Christian Pulisic has 60 seconds to answer your pressing questions

Although born in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Pulisic carried a Croatian passport at the time of his move to the Dortmund youth academy in 2015, an entitlement born of his paternal grandfather's lineage. His European background facilitated the red tape that can stall or hinder a non-EU youth player's transfer overseas and, in turn, has enabled the star-spangled sensation - much like Mate before him - to live his transatlantic dream in the Bundesliga.

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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