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USMNT players in the UCL this season

USMNT players in the UEFA Champions League: Who are the young stars looking to make their mark?

October 20, 2020 By Michelle Bonsu
With the Champions League just around the corner, quite a few USMNT internationals will be getting involved in Europe's biggest club tournament.

1997. That to date, is the first and only time any American has been on a Champions League-winning side. During the 1996/1997 season, Borussia Dortmund lifted the coveted trophy, and now-retired midfielder Jovan Kirovski was part of the squad who made history, beating Juventus 3-1 in the final to become the first team in a newly reunified Germany to clinch the biggest title in European club football.

Kirovski is also the first USMNT player to score in the Champions League - a record that has since been matched by former players like DaMarcus Beasley (who scored six goals combined during stints at PSV Eindhoven and Rangers) and most recently, active USMNT internationals Tyler Adams (who became the third player to score in the Champions League knockout phase when his goal for RB Leipzig dumped Atletico Madrid out) and Christian Pulisic (first for Borussia Dortmund, and then again for current club Chelsea).

This season will see a crop of players across many of Europe's top leagues, including, for the first time, Serie A. Earlier this summer, Weston McKennie became the first American to sign for Italian giants Juventus, and although he's currently stuggling with COVID-19 and will miss his team's upcoming trip to take on Eastern European outfit Dynamo Kiev, the former Schalke midfielder will certainly hope to have a big impact as Juventus aim to end their decades-long hoodoo in the Champions League.

Without further ado, here's a look at the USMNT stars (several of them young teenage starlets) seeking to help guide their respective teams to go as far in this competition as possible.

Tyler Adams

Team: RB Leipzig

Age: 21

Stats from last season's UCL: Three appearances, one goal

DID YOU KNOW: Adams became only the third American player to score in a knock-out round in the UCL with his winning goal for Leipzig against Atletico. Unfortunately, die Bullen weren't able to progress to the finals after being knocked out by serial Bundesliga winners Bayern, but he certainly played a vital part in their surprise run to the semi-finals last season. He's also the second American (after DaMarcus Beasley) to play in the Champions League semi-finals.

Gio Reyna

Team: Borussia Dortmund

Age: 17

Stats from last season's UCL: Two appearances, zero goals

DID YOU KNOW: Reyna became the youngest ever American player in UCL history to start and provide an assist in a match when he made his appearance for die Schwarzgelben against PSG in the first leg of the round of 16. His assist to Norwegian striker Erling Haaland proved to be the game winner as Dortmund earned a 2-1 win over the French powerhouse., and broke the previous record set by now Chelsea star Christian Pulisic.

Christian Pulisic

Team: Chelsea

Age: 22

Stats from last season's UCL: Four appearances, one goal

DID YOU KNOW: He's only 22, but Pulisic has made MORE appearances (26) in the UCL than any other USMNT international in the competition's history. That number will obviously rise this season with him returning to the fold just in time for Chelsea's upcoming Champions League campaign.

Weston McKennie

Team: Juventus

Age: 22

Stats from last season's UCL: None - Schalke didn't qualify for the Champions League

DID YOU KNOW: McKennie is the first American signed by Juventus in their 120-plus year history. In addition, once he recovers from COVID-19, he will become only the second USMNT international to play for a Serie A team in the Champions League; the first was defender Oguchi Onyewu, who made his Champions League debut for AC Milan in September 2009 against Swiss outfit FC Zurich.

Ethan Horvath

Team: Club Brugge

Age: 25

Stats from last season's UCL: Zero appearances

DID YOU KNOW: Although he hasn't featured much in the UCL, he's impressed in each of the handful of appearances he's made so far - with three clean sheets in three consecutive appearances in 2018. That included shutting out Monaco in a 4-0 win, and holding Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid to 0-0 draws. In total, he made 11 saves and not surprisingly, earned rave reviews.

And with first-choice shot-stopper Simon Mingolet out with COVID-19, Horvath is set to make his 2020/2021 UCL debut as his team look to pick up all three points against Russian side Zenit.

 
 
 
 
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Champions League football = The biggest platform for @usmnt players to shine. The 2020/21 #UCL season kicks off this midweek! Here are 10 #USMNT names to watch.

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Tyler Steffen

Team: Manchester City

Age: 25

Stats from last season's UCL: None - was loaned out to German side Fortuna Dusseldorf last season, and they didn't qualify for the UCL. However, he'll be hoping to make his debut in this competition since returning to Manchester City

DID YOU KNOW: Steffen started all 17 of Dusseldorf's league games during the first half of the season, but saw his campaign ended prematurely. During his time on the pitch, he made a whopping ten saves on matchday one - more than any other goalkeeper - and overall ranked in the top three in terms of saves during the first half of the season. Indeed, despite his team having among the worst defenses in the league, it was his performances that certainly kept them afloat, as Dusseldorf eventually suffered a relegation to the 2.Bundesliga after he was unable to make a comeback to action in time.

Chris Richards

Team: Bayern Munich

Age: 20

Stats from last season's UCL: None - played for Bayern's reserve team in the 3.Liga last term, making 30 appearances and scoring 4 goals

DID YOU KNOW: Richards became the first American player to start in a Bundesliga game for Bayern Munich when he made his senior debut for die Roten in a 4-3 win over Hertha Berlin on October 4th. In addition, he also grabbed his first assist after setting up Robert Lewandowski for the Polish ace's second goal in the 51st minute.

Alex Mendez

Team: Ajax

Age: 20

Stats from last season's UCL: N/A - featured for Jong Ajax, which is Ajax's reserve squad

DID YOU KNOW: Mendez is just one of six Americans to play for Ajax (either in the senior team or the reserve team); the first was Eddy Hamel, who played over 100 games for the Dutch side between 1922 and 1930.

Konrad de la Fuente

Team: Barcelona

Age: 19

Stats from last season's UCL: N/A - played for Barcelona's reserve team

DID YOU KNOW: Although he's part of Barca's B squad, de la Fuente could become only the second ever American to play for Barcelona and one of just six to feature for a Spanish team if Ronald Koeman decides to give him some game-time this season.

Sergino Dest

Team: Barcelona

Age: 19

Stats from last season's UCL: 10 appearances for Ajax, zero goals

DID YOU KNOW: Dest is the first ever American player to appear for Barcelona in La Liga (when he made his debut as a sub on October 4th during a one-all stalemate with Sevilla). In addition, he's just one of five Americans to have ever played in the top flight of Spanish football.

So, with that in mind, given that a record-high 10 USMNT players possibly could take part in this season's Champions League, USA fans could see some very interesting match-ups featuring Stars and Stripes personnel facing off against each other. For example, when Juventus lock horns with Barcelona, that could see McKennie doing battle with Dest and possibly, de la Fuente, should he be added to the team's UCL list.

 


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