Soccer experts Chris Lierly and Andrew Noland deliver a comprehensive analysis of the North American rising stars in the beautiful game.
The United States is historically disinterested in the world’s most popular sport, but recently, some major American players (and one Canadian) have made major moves to Europe’s biggest clubs. Though we are trying not to get too hopeful, these moves could place American wunderkinds in the kind of limelight that could help garner soccer a larger American following. Though many of these moves center around the Bundesliga, the biggest move of them all involves an American signing with an English team (which might be treason — we aren’t 100 percent on that).
Christian Pulisic: LW/RW/CAM Chelsea (on loan at Dortmund until summer 2019)/United States
‘In perhaps the biggest signing of the January transfer window, Chelsea signed the American phenom for a record $71 million, the most spent for an American. Chelsea agreed to allow him to finish his season at Dortmund, probably not wanting his arrival in the middle of the season to disrupt their forwards’ forms.
Chelsea gambled heavily to sign Pulisic, and the organization is hoping that the American can either complement superstar Eden Hazard in a potent front three or replace him if the Belgian leaves for Real Madrid like expected.
Pulisic will likely play on the right wing, although he has proven versatile. More of a creative playmaker, Pulisic might be able to put American soccer in the spotlight once again should he have a successful 2019-2020 season.
Timothy Weah: ST/RW Paris San Germain (on loan at Celtic until summer 2019)/United States
This article comes at a good time for Weah since he just began his half-season loan from PSG to Celtic with a run of two goals and an assist in five games.
Weah is the son of former Ballon d’Or winner and Liberian President George Weah. His name got bigger than just being the son of a legend after being named to the United States National Team as well as making a move to PSG. His electric speed is the most impressive thing about Weah’s style.
He plays the same two positions as Kylian Mbappe, so we might see him try to ask for a transfer if his run at Celtic goes well.
However, there is a good chance that the French star moves on to greener pastures, or in this case a whiter kit since it’s probably going to be a move to Real Madrid. In that case, Weah could position himself to become the next big forward for the Parisian giants.
Alphonso Davies: LW/RW Bayern Munich/Canada
Davies initially made history as the first player born in the 2000s to play in an MLS match, and he then made history with his record transfer from the Vancouver Whitecaps to Bayern Munich for $22 million.
Both the German giants and the Canadian National Team utilize Davies’s versatility to play him on both wings. He has yet to score a goal at Bayern Munich, but this season was never supposed to be his breakout.
Davies is 18 years old, and Bayern Munich has Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry all on the wings. However, Robben is out after this season, and Ribery is not likely to be far behind. With Müller favoring a CF or False-9 role, this leaves Bayern with two true wingers going forward.
It is into this gap that the young Canadian will likely step and have a chance to become a star of the Bundesliga and European football at large.
Chris Richards: CB FC Dallas (on loan at Bayern Munich)/United States
FC Dallas has the best youth development structure in the United States, and Bayern picked up on Richards quickly.
With Bayern taking him on a loan to play on the team’s Under 19s squad, Richards’s size and ball-playing potential impressed Bayern enough to enlist him for a half-season-long tryout. Germany will likely keep a close eye on him as he plays across the Bundesliga youth squads.
Tyler Adams: MID/RW/LW Red Bull Leipzig/United States
The midfielder earned a reputation at the Red Bull sister team in New York, gaining attention for his goal against Chelsea in a friendly in 2015.
In 2017, he cemented himself as a starter for the New York team, scoring two goals in 52 appearances for the MLS side. He has also appeared for the U15, U17 and U20 national sides, but he earned his spot on the senior national team, appearing against Portugal in January of this year and scoring against Mexico in his second game.
Adams has appeared in his first game as a defensive midfielder since transferring to Red Bull Leipzig in the January transfer window.
Weston McKennie: MID Schalke 04/United States
Like Davies, McKennie came to the Bundesliga from the MLS. FC Dallas, his first professional team, offered him a homegrown contract since he partially grew up there, but McKennie opted to return to the country where he played most of his youth career: Germany.
He plays midfielder for both the USMNT and FC Schalke. Though McKennie has yet to make his time there impactful, the recent departures of star midfielders Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka for Crystal Palace and Bayern Munich, respectively, could open the door for the young American to step into a consistent role that allows him to reach his top form.