As the USA national team reorganises ahead of the qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, German-born players with dual nationality could prove to be exactly what Uncle Sam is looking for.
bundesliga.com takes a look at 10 young Germans that could turn out for the Stars-and-Stripes on a soccer pitch near you in the not-too-distant future.
1) Jeremy Toljan
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Full-back, left or right
Dortmund’s Stuttgart-born defender is a versatile full-back who has enjoyed plenty of minutes at the Signal Iduna Park since his summer transfer from Hoffenheim with a goal and two assists already this season. A UEFA Under-21 EURO winner last summer with Germany, he still has no senior caps to his name, and a charm offensive by U.S. Soccer could tempt him to switch allegiances to his father's country of birth.
2) Jalen Hawkins
Club:Bayern Munich U17
A full-blooded Bavarian for the United States? Hawkins was born in Regensburg in 2001 before moving a few miles south to join Ingolstadt, where his impressive form convinced Bayern to sign him in 2015. Currently playing for the Bundesliga champions' U17s for whom he has scored twice this season, Hawkins featured in a recent youth camp for the U.S. and may have already made up his mind on the matter...
3) Corey Anton
Club: Hoffenheim U19
The young defender was formed at Kaiserslautern's youth academy before switching to Hoffenheim in 2017. Although he has missed most of the current campaign due to an ACL rupture, he has already played for Germany U18s, scoring a goal on debut in 2017. Should the U.S. bring him into their international set-up, Anton would not only bring quality on the pitch, but an extra kick to the team's karaoke sessions with his melodious R&B-infused voice.
4) Justin Butler
Club: Bayern Munich U17
American fans may soon be able to fulfil their fantasy of having a classic German No.9 up front. Butler was born in Augsburg, where he joined his hometown club before being signed by Bayern in 2016. He is currently enjoying a good season at U17 level, having scored five goals so far. Just like his team-mate Hawkins, he was also involved in the U.S. Soccer youth camp in early January. Could Bayern line up with not one but two US internationals in the final third of the pitch one day?
5) Elias Thomas
Club: Wolfsburg U17
Standing at 6'3", the young Wolfsburg defender is cut from similar sturdy cloth to USMNT stalwart and club team-mate John Anthony Brooks, and provides an exciting alternative for the left flank. Although he has had an up and down season, with most of his appearances coming off the bench, he has still managed to provide one assist. In 2014, he was involved in a U14 camp with U.S. Soccer, which means the Stars-and-Stripes are already well aware of the young Wolf.
Club: Bayern Munich II
Position: Left-winger/Attacking midfielder
Out of all the names on this list, Tillman's would probably be the biggest coup for the U.S. should they convince the versatile youngster to join their cause. He’s played for Germany at every level from U15 to U19, and with four goals and four assists this season with Bayern’s reserves, he’s knocking on the door of the first team. His height (Tillman stands 6ft tall) and resourcefulness on the ball are more than a little reminiscent of Kingsley Coman. Tillman is expected to join the American U20 squad for a training camp in March this year, and a step up to the full USMNT is probably not too far away.
7) Maurice Malone
Club: Augsburg U19
Augsburg's young striker speaks the only language that football scouts understand: goals. Across the last three seasons, Malone has scored close to 50 goals, 24 of them last year alone. Although he is the same age as Bayern duo Hawkins and Butler, he already plays at U19 level with his club and featured for Germany at the U17 World Cup last year. Will Alfred Finnbogason's ice-cold finishing rub off on this potential American goal-hero?
8) Malik Tillman
Club: Bayern Munich U17
Position: Central midfielder
The Tillman family could be a boon for both Bayern and the U.S. national team. Timothy's younger brother is currently enjoying a solid season with the Bavarian giants' U17 squad with two goals and as many assists to his name, and an almost perfect appearance record: he has only missed two matches through injury. The youngest player in this list has turned out for both Germany and the U.S. at U15 level, but has already declared his allegiance to the Stars-and-Stripes in the long term.
9) Maximilian Dietz
Club: Freiburg U17
Position: Central midfielder
In a club famous for developing young players into Bundesliga stars, this young midfielder stands out from the crowd by playing two years above his age grade. Featuring at U17 level at 15 is impressive enough, but being able to do it at the academy that gave us players like Matthias Ginter and Maximilian Philipp in recent years suggests a very encouraging future.
10) Kevin Lankford
Position: Winger, right or left
Although his hometown club play in Germany's second division, versatile offensive threat Lankford already has two seasons of professional football under his belt. Furthermore, he has already played for the U.S. at U19 level, sharing a squad with Schalke's Weston McKennie. A breakthrough season in the lower tier may be the path into the top flight as well as the USMNT for Lankford as it has been previously for Bobby Wood and Brooks.
Jaime Duque Cevallos