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Young Americans shinning in Europe

Young Americans shinning in Europe: Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, and more

September 21, 2020 By Juan Aguerrevere
A group of young American soccer players dazzled for some of Europe’s top clubs this weekend.

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, a football pioneer of this generation of young Americans, missed out on the first two weeks of Premier League action. However, other ambitious young Americans that have followed ‘Captain America’s’ footsteps shined across Europe this last weekend.

Weston McKennie – Juventus

United States international Weston McKennie made Andrea Pirlo’s starting XI for Juventus’ opening game of the season on Sunday. The 22-year-old midfielder played the entirety of the game and nearly scored twice despite that not being his specialty. The ball-carrying midfielder ultimately helped the Vecchia Signora to a 3-0 win over Sampdoria.

Juventus acquired McKennie from Schalke 04 on a one-year loan deal with an option to buy at the end of the 2020-21 season last month. The Little Elm, Texas, native became the sixth American to make an appearance in a Serie A side, joining the likes of Alexis Lalas (Padova 1994-96) and Michael Bradley (Chievo, Roma 2011-14). It is clear that McKennie is a favorite among Pirlo’s deep central midfield core, which includes Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot, Arthur Melo, Hans Nicolussi, Manolo Portanova and Rodrigo Betancur.

Giovanni Reyna – Borussia Dortmund

Another United States international that has been turning heads in Europe is Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna. On Monday, Reyna was given the role of center attacking mid ahead of fellow 17-year-old Jude Bellingham and veteran Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel against third division MSV Duisburg. This challenge was nothing new for the teenager, given the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal experience he racked-up last season. He scored the fourth goal of the meeting and helped Dortmund to a 5-0 victory.

On Saturday, Reyna made Lucien Favre’s starting lineup against Borussia Monchengladbach and scored Dortmund’s league opener at the Signal Iduna Park to open the scoring. Moreover, he was fouled in the box, indirectly assisting Erling Braut Haland, who converted from the spot. Dortmund ended up winning the Borussen Derby 3-0 with Reyna being one of the match’s protagonists.

At 17-years, 311 days old, Reyna is the second-youngest American scorer in the Bundesliga, trailing Christian Pulisic, who scored aged 17 years and 211 days in 2016, according to ESPN.

Special Mentions

Tyler Adams – Red Bull Leipzig

RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams feature in the German side’s starting lineup against Nurnberg in the first round of the DFB-Pokal on Saturday, Sept. 12, and the opening Bundesliga match against Mainz on Sunday. He gave another snippet of how he can be a utility player keeping a clean sheet playing as a center back in Leipzig’s 3-0 over Nurnberg.

Konrad de la Fuente – Barcelona

Nineteen-year-old Konrad de la Fuente received good reviews from Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman after his performances in pre-season friendlies. There are talks about Girona signing the American forward on a loan deal for the remainder of the season.

Sergiño Dest – Ajax

Right-back Sergiño Dest made two appearances as a substitute in Ajax’s first two Eredivisie matches. However, he might be on his way to either Barcelona or Bayern after a 2019-20 season where he made 20 Eredivisie appearances (5 assists) and five Champions League appearances.

Chris Richards – Bayern Munich

Center-back Chris Richards played the last 17 minutes of Bayern’s 8-0 thrashing over Schalke 04 on Friday. The 20-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama, joined Bayern from FC Dallas and this was his second appearance for the Champions League champions.  

Reggie Cannon – Boavista

Another FC Dallas academy graduate, right-back Reggie Cannon made his move to Europe on Sept. 9. He joined Portuguese side Boavista and played 90 minutes in a 3-3 draw to Nacional on Saturday.

Josh Sargent – Werder Bremen

Forward Josh Sargent started the season right, scoring Werder Bremen’s opening goal of the season in a DFB-Pokal matchup against third division side FC Carl Zeiss Jena. Despite a positive first result, Werder Bremen fell to Hertha Berlin 4-1 and Sargent played the entirety of the match.

Antonee Robinson

Fulham acquired right-back Antonee Robinson from Wigan in the offseason. Robinson helped Fulham secure a clean sheet in their 1-0 win over Ipswich Town in the EFL Cup.

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