Jeremy Toljan was an impressive performer for Borussia Dortmund last season after joining from Hoffenheim in 2017. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Schulze
Jeremy Toljan was an impressive performer for Borussia Dortmund last season after joining from Hoffenheim in 2017. - © © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Schulze

Borussia Dortmund's Jeremy Toljan and the US national team: time to start over?


The US national team's failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup has prompted a period of soul searching, and one of many expected changes could well come from an unexpected source: Borussia Dortmund's Jeremy Toljan.

Wait. What? Yes indeed, the BVB full-back is eligible to play for the US men's national team by virtue of his American father, and has many of the attributes the Stars and Stripes have been lacking so far.

The idea is not as far-fetched as you might think. The USA's absence from Russia 2018 led to a shake up at the heart of the federation, with Carlos Cordeiro elected as their new president in February and a new permanent head coach also still to be appointed.

It stands to reason that the new tactician will be keen to stamp their own mark on the side, and with veterans Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley all over 30, fresh faces will be required sooner rather than later. Toljan would be a worthwhile candidate.

The USMNT have tried to woo him before. In 2015, Toljan told Germany's Bild newspaper that then-coach Jürgen Klinsmann called him to inquire about his availability. At the time, Toljan, who has represented Germany at several youth levels, rebuffed the approach, saying it was "only a short conversation".

He has since enjoyed considerable success with Germany's U-21's, winning a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics and lifting the UEFA U-21 European Championship title last summer, a competition where he was also included in the official Team of the Tournament.

Toljan (r.) celebrates with his team-mates after winning the UEFA U-21 EURO in summer 2017. - © gettyimages / JANEK SKARZYNSKI

However, now aged 23, he cannot continue playing for the U-21s indefinitely. Perhaps in light of the fierce competition for places – with Joshua Kimmich, Jonas Hector, Philipp Max and Marvin Plattenhardt all vying for the full-back slots - he is yet to receive a call up to Joachim Löw's senior side, let alone play a competitive game for them. As long as that is the case, Toljan can still represent the USA – or Croatia, thanks to his mother - at full international level.

After all, it would not be unprecedented. Borussia Mönchengladbach's Fabian Johnson likewise won the U-21 European title with Germany in 2009, but later switched allegiance to the USMNT. Wolfsburg's John Brooks represented Germany's U-20s in 2012 before becoming a rock at the heart of the US defence, while former Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones trod a similar path. All three have gone on to become key players for the USA.

Fabian Johnson and John Brooks have both gone down the path of Germany youth international to fully-fledged USMNT star. - © imago

And Toljan's qualities are undeniable. Born in Stuttgart, the 23-year-old graduated from the Hoffenheim youth academy and made his Bundesliga debut for the club early in the 2013/14 season. He gradually established himself as a first-team regular over the subsequent campaigns before Dortmund's courtship proved too tempting to turn down in summer 2017.

The defender enjoyed 16 Bundesliga outings last term, starting all five games after coach Peter Stöger took over, and he even rescued his side a point with a late equaliser at home to Freiburg on Matchday 20.

Versatile, two-footed and with energy to burn, his stats make for impressive reading. Toljan covers an average of 11 kilometres per game, completes 84 per cent of his passes, wins 54 per cent of his tackles, had eight shots on goal in the league last term, and teed up team-mates for a further nine, providing one assist.

So is it time for the USMNT to make another approach? The conversation could well be a lot longer this time, and it would certainly be worth their while.

Watch: Toljan scored his first Borussia Dortmund goal against Freiburg on Matchday 20!

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