Football may be the world’s game but it has taken some time to win popularity over in the United States, the traditional powerhouses of American Football, Basketball and Baseball dominating the interest of the nation’s sport fanatics.
An increase in global stars heading to Major League Soccer has certainly helped increase attention, whilst an emerging group of US talents could soon catapult the sport further into the mainstream.
Several stateside stars have made quite the impression having made the move to Europe, with a record eight Americans having already featured in this season’s Champions League in a hugely positive scenario for the national side.
We’ve decided to look at the eight Americans to play in club football’s biggest competition this season and rate each star:
The poster-boy for US football, Christian Pulisic has been tipped for superstardom from an early age and wasted little time in making an impression upon his arrival in Europe.
Pulisic signed for Borussia Dortmund as a teenager and soon broke into the first-team, becoming the youngest ever non-German scorer in the Bundesliga and swiftly cementing himself as a regular.
The winger made over a century of appearances for Dortmund before becoming the most expensive American of all-time with a £58m move to Chelsea, impressing during his first season in the Premier League following an initial slow start.
Pulisic’s speed, skill and ever-improving end product saw him thrive over the second half of last season, establishing himself as one of the most exciting wide players in English football and as a key player in Frank Lampard’s side.
Amongst the division’s best following the Premier League‘s restart, injuries have stalled his progress over the opening months of the campaign and Chelsea will hoping he can get back to his best as quickly as possible.
Still just 22-years-old, Pulisic is the youngest player ever to captain the US national side and the player his nation’s hopes will largely be pinned on in the coming years, a player possessing the talent to become America’s greatest ever footballing export.
Following rapidly in Pulisic’s footsteps is the precociously talented Giovanni Reyna, another exciting American currently impressing in the colours of Borussia Dortmund.
As the son of two former US internationals, it is perhaps little surprise to Reyna continuing the family name, though the attacking midfielder appears to have the ability to eclipse the achievements of many a compatriot to have played in Europe.
The 18-year-old has rapidly risen from promising prospect to regular in the Dortmund first team, starring alongside the likes of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, providing a goal and four assists in just six Bundesliga starts.
Reyna’s flawless close control and ability to thread passes defy his inexperience, with the teenager becoming the youngest goalscorer in German Cup history earlier this year.
Reyna was called up to the US national side during November’s international break and made his senior debut against Wales, before scoring his first goal with a free-kick against Panama in the next fixture.
Amongst the most exciting teenagers in Europe right now, Reyna has the potential to become a genuine star for both club and country.
Weston McKennie is another player to have travelled the popular path from the US to Germany, breaking into the Schalke side as a teenager after signing from MLS outfit FC Dallas.
McKennie had previously spent three years living in Germany as a child and the opportunity to sign for Schalke presented him with a chance to test himself in the Bundesliga, an examination of his talents that has been passed with flying colours.
The midfielder impressed with his athleticism and versatility, becoming a stand-out player despite a disappointing end to last season, his performances attracting the attention of a number clubs.
To some surprise it was Juventus who won the race to sign the 22-year-old on an initial loan with an option to buy, McKennie becoming the first American to represent Italy’s most successful club, his move to Turin capping a remarkable rise.
McKennie’s endless energy and insatiable work ethic have seen him make a solid start with the Bianconeri, the star spearheading a wave of talented Americans seizing their opportunity at Europe’s footballing superpowers.
Tyler Adams signed for RB Leipzig during the 2019 January transfer window from New York Red Bulls, reuniting with former manager Jesse Marsch who was working as part of the coaching staff in Germany.
The versatile youngster has had to be patient for his opportunity with the Bundesliga side but made his presence felt in last season’s Champions League, scoring a dramatic late winner as Leipzig beat Atletico Madrid to reach the semi-finals.
Adams has grown in stature under Julian Nagelsmann this season and has started five league games so far this season, though debate remains over the 21-year-old’s best position with the star comfortable at both right-back and a midfield anchor role.
That versatility is likely to make Adams a fixture for both Leipzig and the US national side in the coming years, his club side currently seeking to reach the Champions League’s knockout stages for a second successive campaign.
US football was delighted to see Sergino Dest commit his future to the homeland of his father, the full-back having been born in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and American father.
The Netherlands’ loss is almost certain to prove to be America’s gain, Dest having come through the fabled academy system at Ajax before completing a summer move to Barcelona.
It took just a handful of senior appearances for Barcelona to have been convinced of the 20-year-old’s talents, a wonderfully athletic and modern right-back capable of influencing the play at both ends of the pitch.
Dest has made a promising start to his career in Catalonia and has won six senior caps for the US national side since his debut last year.
Konrad De La Fuente
The second emerging American currently in the ranks at Barcelona, De La Fuente moved to Spain as a child and has been with the Catalan side since the age of 12, honing his talents in the club’s famed La Masia academy system.
The 19-year-old impressed with Barcelona B last season and has earned inclusion in the senior side during the current campaign, making his first-team debut as a substitute during the 4-0 Champions League win at Dynamo Kyiv.
De La Fuente is a winger capable of beating players with his pace and trickery, the Miami-born teenager pledging his international future to the US and making his senior debut in November’s friendly against Wales.
Ethan Horvath has taken an unorthodox rise to prominence since leaving the US as a teenager, earning his first opportunity in European football with Norwegian outfit Molde.
The goalkeeper spent four seasons with the club before moving to Club Brugge, where he has featured regularly in continental competition in recent campaigns.
Horvath has found himself behind Simon Mignolet in the pecking order at Brugge but started during the Belgian side’s 2-1 win at Zenit St Petersburg, scoring an own goal.
Richards signed for Bayern Munich two years ago and it is a move that has accelerated the defender’s development, making his Bundesliga debut against Freiburg during the second half of last season.
The 20-year-old has been afforded further minutes this season and made his Champions League debut during the win over Red Bull Salzburg last week, impressing at left-back as the holders secured their passage into the knockout stages.
Richards is athletic and possesses a sizeable frame, with the youngster having been likened to now Bayern teammate Jerome Boateng.
The former Germany international appears the perfect player to learn from at the Allianz Arena, Richards already making an impression with the best side in club football at present.