American Record Ten Players in 20/21 UEFA Champions League

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The UEFA Champions League, Europe’s most prestigious soccer tournament, will feature 10 American players this season, nearly doubling the previous record of six. Soccer in the USA is growing, both in terms of participation and popularity. Since 2004 Major League Soccer (MLS), the top domestic league, has more than doubled in size with 10 teams in 2003 to 26 in 2020. 

Still, many talented players in the United States know that European soccer presents more challenges and opportunities and are therefore turning to European soccer education for their training. 

Although 10 players is still very few in the grand scheme of things, it’s still a big leap forward. It means we might just see more and more Americans in future Champions League tournaments. Check out the 10 Americans playing in this year’s Champions League:

Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)

Christian Pulisic (born in 1998 in Hershey, Pennsylvania) plays as a winger and an attacking midfielder for the Premier League club Chelsea. He began his professional career with the German club Borussia Dortmund where he started at the youth academy and quickly progressed to the first team. In January 2019, Pulisic moved to Chelsea for $73 million, making him the most expensive North American player of all time. 

Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)

Tyler Adams (born in 1999 in Wappinger, New York) plays primarily as a midfielder for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. Adams was trained by the New York Red Bulls academy, began playing for the New York Red Bulls II at 16 years old and transferred to the New York Red Bulls first team a year later. He joined RB Leipzig in January 2019, reuniting him with former coach Jesse Marsch.

Sergiño Dest (Barcelona)

Sergiño Dest (born in 2000 in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and American father) plays as a right-back for FC Barcelona. Dest played for the youth academy of Almere City until 2012, when he moved to the Ajax youth academy. He made it to Ajax first team in 2019 but agreed to transfer to FC Barcelona for an initial €21 million plus a further €5 million in variables. On October 4, 2020, Dest became the first American to appear for Barcelona in La Liga.

Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona)

Konrad de la Fuente (born in 2001 in Miami, Florida) plays as a winger for FC Barcelona B but has recently begun practicing with the first team. De la Fuente moved to Spain at the age of 10 when his father took a job in Barcelona and was discovered by FC Barcelona shortly after. He has been developing in Barcelona’s youth system since 2013.

fc barcelona

Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge)

Ethan Horvath (born in 1995 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado) plays as a goalkeeper for Belgian Club Brugge. Horvath grew up with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, playing for Real Colorado and occasionally training with Bristol City, Manchester United, and Stoke City of England. In 2013, he was recruited by the manager of Tippeligaen club Molde in Norway, which led to Horvath signing his first professional contract. In 2017, he transferred to Belgium’s Club Brugge. 

Weston McKennie (Juventus)

Weston McKennie (born in 1998 in Little Elm, Texas) plays as a midfielder for Juventus, on loan from Bundesliga club Schalke 04. Weston McKennie grew up in Texas, but spent three years in Kaiserslautern, Germany, between the ages of six and nine, where he played for the local club FC Phönix Otterbach. After moving back to the states, McKennie played for FC Dallas in the MLS youth system. In 2016, he turned down two impressive offers to continue playing in the states and, instead, moved back to Germany to play for FC Schalke 04.

Alex Mendez (Ajax)

Alex Mendez (born in 2000 in Los Angeles, California) plays as a midfielder for Ajax. He began his career with LA Galaxy II in the USL Championship (USLC) league – a professional men’s soccer league just under MLS in terms of hierarchy. In 2018, he signed a professional contract for the Bundesliga club SC Freiburg in Germany and, in 2019, signed a three-year deal with Ajax. 

Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)

Giovanni Reyna (born in 2002 in Sunderland, England while his father was playing professionally for Sunderland) plays as an attacking midfielder for Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund. He played for New York City FC’s academy team from 2015 until 2019, when he moved to Germany to join Borussia Dortmund’s academy. In 2020, at the young age of 17, he made his debut for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.  

Chris Richards (Bayern Munich)

Chris Richards (born in 2000 in Birmingham, Alabama) plays as a defender for FC Bayern Munich. He started his professional career with the FC Dallas youth academy in 2017 and signed a contract with FC Dallas a year later. That same year, Richards attended a 10-day trial at FC Bayern Munich as part of an agreement between the two clubs. Two months later, he was offered a one-year loan with the German club. He played for Bayern II until this past September when he debuted in Bayern’s opener against Schalke 04. 

zack steffen

Zack Steffen (Manchester City)

Zack Steffen (born in 1995 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania) plays as a goalkeeper for Manchester City. Steffen played Division I Collegiate Soccer for the University of Maryland, but left after his sophomore year when he signed a professional contract with German club SC Freiburg. Since then, he’s played for a couple of clubs and even returned to the states for a couple of seasons. He was last traded from Columbus Crew of the MLS to Manchester City for about $7 million. 

 

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