It’s been eight long years since our soccer heroes last competed on the world stage, having disappointingly failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament for the first time in 28 years. That blow hit the team hard, but they’re back with a vengeance this time out.
They are in a great position to top the CONCACAF qualifying group, despite the presence of heavy hitter Mexico, and a good set of results at the end of January will all but book their place in Qatar. This campaign hasn’t been without its upsets; the New York Times describes their 1-0 defeat against Panama as ‘listless’ and a ‘harsh lesson’. It was fair criticism, but also the first defeat of the campaign suffered by Gregg Berhalter’s men.
The USMNT of 2017/18, which failed to qualify, is gone. In their place, a vibrant team, boosted by an increasingly impressive array of homegrown players plying their trade in Major League Soccer. Of course, as with any successful international nation, there is also a smattering of talent playing over in Europe, from the home of soccer, England, the heavyweight leagues of Spain, Germany and Italy. Those players bring experience of major divisions and different coaching methods over to the US, where our young talent learn to benefit from soccer’s profile in the US and their teammates’ overseas experiences.
Who are the top USMNT players currently in European football? These are the big names.
Christian Pulisic – Chelsea
If Landon Donovan and John Harkes were the original US pacesetters in European football, then Pulisic has raised the bar. Why? Because he became the first American to lift the Champions League as part of the Chelsea squad last season. He’s impressed this season and is reportedly on the radar of Spanish giants Barcelona.
Adams is another US player who made history in the Champions League. His goal in the quarter-finals of the competition was the first at that stage by an American player and was perhaps the most important goal ever scored by one of our players in the best domestic competition in the world. The 22-year-old has 22 caps for the USMNT and will surely be a key player over the coming years.
Once upon a time, Barcelona was one of the world’s richest clubs, with a star-studded roster that made clubs green with envy. As Bwin show in an infographic, that is no longer the case due to financial issues, but they’re still a massive team, and it’s where USMNT star Dest calls home. Dest was born in the Netherlands and came through the ranks at Ajax but chose the US over the Netherlands in October 2019.
McKennie is a staple of the USMNT and a regular for Italian giants Juventus. He’s bagged eight goals for his country, and at the age of 23, has many great years ahead of him. He spent four years in Germany with Schalke before becoming the first US-born player to represent the La Vecchia Signora or The Old Lady.
Tim Weah has a rather rich soccer heritage to live up to; his Dad, George, was a pioneer in European football, becoming one of the most revered African players of all time. Tim was born in New York and spent some of his youth with the Red Bulls before moving to France with Paris St Germain, where his father also played. He’s now with Lille, and in 2018 scored his first international goal against Bolivia to become the fourth-youngest player to score for the USMNT.