All three of Dortmund’s matches in the prestigious pre-season competition will take place in the United States, with a game against Manchester City (20 July, Chicago) being closely followed by meetings with Liverpool (22 July, Charlotte) and Benfica (25 July, Pittsburgh). bundesliga.com picks out five young players who will be out to make a big impression.
Undoubtedly the main attraction for many fans attending Dortmund’s matches in America will be USA international Pulisic. The crafty attacker has had some time to recharge his batteries following his country’s failure to qualify for this summer’s FIFA World Cup, and was last in action when the US won a friendly 3-0 against Bolivia in Pennsylvania at the end of May.
The Hershey native will return to his home state again for the match against Portuguese giants Benfica, by which stage he’ll be getting a good idea of what new Dortmund boss Lucien Favre expects of him.
Described by former USMNT international Eddie Johnson as the best American player he’s seen play the game, Pulisic has an exciting year ahead at club level. Recently nominated for the Golden Boy award – a prize given to the best player under the age of 21 in Europe – he is heading into his fourth season as part of Dortmund’s first team. Having started 27 league matches last term, he’ll hope to lead a title charge and make his mark in the UEFA Champions League when competitive action resumes.
Unless they were watching last year’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup – when he scored four goals during Spain’s run to the final – Dortmund fans will have only caught a glimpse of what Gomez is capable of. After being persuaded to leave Barcelona in January, the attacking midfielder made two brief substitute appearances for the first team in wins over Stuttgart and Leverkusen towards the end of last season. He also got on the scoresheet in a post-season friendly against lower-league side Zwickau in May.
With some of Dortmund’s stars likely to get an extended breather after the World Cup, however, Gomez – who turns 18 in September - should also get his chance to impress Favre in the US. And what better man for a young player to be learning from, considering that fellow attacker Marco Reus has labelled Favre as probably the best coach he ever worked under.
No doubt inspired by his countrymen’s performances at this summer’s World Cup, Swedish teenager Isak will be out to add to the 12 appearances he made for Dortmund in all competitions last season. The well-built frontman got his first goal for BVB in a DFB Cup win over lower league Magdeburg last October, and he also netted in the 4-4 draw with Zwickau in May.
One of 15 Bundesliga players nominated for the Golden Boy award, Isak became Sweden’s youngest-ever goalscorer when he hit the target against Slovakia in January 2017. With experienced strikers in short supply at Dortmund for the moment, he will hope to stake a claim for more game time next season by excelling against top-quality opposition during the International Champions Cup.
Sancho is still learning the ropes after his move from Manchester City last year, but the English teenager has already shown more than enough to suggest that he has what it takes to thrive at Dortmund.
The winger started their final four league games of last season, scoring his first goal in April in a 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen as his side just about held off Die Werkself in the battle to secure the fourth and final Champions League spot on offer in the Bundesliga.
Dortmund teammate Reus said he wasn’t as developed at 18 as Sancho is, while in June the youth international was praised by England boss Gareth Southgate for taking “a different path” in backing himself to shine in Germany.
“At Dortmund, he plays in front of 80,000 people every fortnight,” Southgate told German football magazine kicker. “He must perform under pressure. He plays against men, and that’s different to competing with players of your age group.”
Sancho will be keen to catch the eye of Favre in the US, and he should have every faith that hard work will pay off under the new Dortmund manager. During his last spell in the Bundesliga, after all, the Swiss coach was instrumental in developing players like Reus, Marc-André ter Stegen, Christoph Kramer and Granit Xhaka while in charge of Borussia Möenchengladbach.
The Bundesliga is a great place for young players of all nationalities to prove themselves, but French imports in particular seem to be flourishing of late. Stuttgart’s Benjamin Pavard forced his way into France’s World Cup team after an excellent first year in the German top flight, while Ousmane Dembele also earned his first cap for the national team shortly after moving to Dortmund two years ago.
Zagadou, who turned 19 in June, will be hoping that he can follow in the footsteps of those two. The France under-19 captain had a testing introduction to life in Germany, often being asked to fill in at left-back in the absence of injured captain Marcel Schmelzer before Peter Bosz was dismissed in December.
The former Paris Saint-Germain defender found minutes harder to come by in the new year, but then-Dortmund manager Peter Stöger said that was simply because experienced players like Manuel Akanji, Ömer Toprak and Sokratis were performing well.
“Zagadou is a young player who’s on the right track,” Stöger said in March. “But the others do not deserve to be taken out of the team at the moment – that’s the problem.”
Shortly afterwards, Zagadou’s hopes of adding to 15 appearances in all competitions were dashed when he tore a thigh muscle in a UEFA Europa League clash against Salzburg. But with a new manager to impress, the versatile Frenchman will be even more determined to catch the eye this summer.