USMNT stars in Bundesliga: Reyna, McKennie & 10 top Americans playing in soccer in Germany

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The Bundesliga is set to make its highly-anticipated return, and with the return of German soccer comes the re-emergence of several of the U.S. men's national team's top stars.

Over the years, Germany has turned into a second home for many of American soccer's best players, with the league currently featuring several key faces in the next generation that is expected to lead the USMNT. Those players, including Tyler Adams, Giovanni Reyna and Weston McKennie, will be vital in the push towards 2022 and beyond, and their development will be closely watched over the coming weeks and, ultimately, years.

But it is not only that next generation that will return, as a number of familiar faces are also still key figures for their respective clubs. World Cup veterans such as John Brooks, Fabian Johnson and Timothy Chandler have all been fixtures for their clubs and, at some points, for the USMNT.

With that said, here's a look at the 10 players to watch as the Bundesliga gets back underway: 

  1. Tyler Adams RB Leipzig

    Tyler Adams | RB Leipzig

    The former New York Red Bull broke into the RB Leipzig lineup almost immediately after completing his move in January 2019. As a result, many expected Adams to be a key figure this season as the club looked to take a big step forward.

    That step has come, with RB Leipzig remaining in the title hunt the whole season, but Adams' part in it has been derailed by injury issues. A groin injury kept him out until just before the winter break and then a February calf issue caused him to miss several additional matches. 

    As a result, Adams has been limited to just five Bundesliga matches this season and has not featured for the USMNT since March 2019.

  2. John Brooks Wolfsburg 09222018
    Stuart Franklin

    John Brooks | Wolfsburg

    When healthy and available, John Brooks may still be the best center back in the USMNT pool. He has been vital to the team's success in recent years, that catastrophic performance against Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying aside.

    This season, Brooks' presence has been just as vital for Wolfsburg, who are noticeably better when the defender is on the field. Brooks has featured in 21 of Wolfsburg’s 36 competitive games this season and, when he is available, Wolfsburg have been one of the league's best defensive teams.

    Only RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich have conceded fewer than the 30 goals allowed by Wolfsburg, and the statistics show that Brooks has been one of the Bundesliga's best in terms of aerial duals won and completed passes out of the back.

    As a result, Wolfsburg sit sixth in the league with plenty of hope for a late push while the club has also sealed a spot in the round of 16 in the Europa League. 

  3. Timmy Chandler Eintracht Frankfurt 04182018
    Maja Hitij

    Timothy Chandler | Eintracht Frankfurt

    Timmy Chandler has long been a mystery figure for the USMNT. He's been a consistent player in the Bundesliga for years as a key figure for Eintracht Frankfurt and, before that, Nurnberg. However, he has never been able to bring anything close to consistency to the USMNT and, as a result, has fallen out of the picture following a series of much-criticized stints with the national team.

    Unsurprisingly, Chandler has once again performed well with his club this season. He's scored four goals across 23 appearances in all competitions, showing off his versatility as a fullback once again. And, as a result of that versatility and those good performances, there's still a chance that Chandler could have a part to play for the USMNT down the line.

    With up-and-comers like Sergino Dest and Reggie Cannon appearing to lock down the fullback spots, a USMNT return for Chandler would be difficult. However, despite all of the changes to the USMNT, the program still isn't in a place to completely give up on a player that continues to perform in the Bundesliga. 

  4. Fabian Johnson Bundesliga Borussia Moenchengladbach 0-3092019

    Fabian Johnson | Borussia Monchengladbach

    Fabian Johnson's days as a USMNT regular are over, and it appears his time as a key figure for Borussia Monchengladbach is also nearing an end.

    The 32-year-old has been relegated to a reduced role this season, playing just under 300 minutes in total across all competitions. An early-season groin strain does account for part of that, but Johnson's minutes have largely been reduced since 2017. Internationally, Johnson hasn't been with the USMNT since that 2017 season, although Gregg Berhalter did say last year that he wouldn't completely close the door on the midfielder/fullback.

    Borussia Monchengladbach, meanwhile, sit fourth in the league, two points ahead of Bayer Leverkusen for the fourth and final Champions League spot. 

  5. Ulysses Llanez USMNT U20 11032018 ISI RKM
    Roy K. Miller

    Ulysses Llanez | Wolfsburg

    Ulysses Llanez has not yet made his debut for Wolfsburg, but he is already off to a strong start when it comes to his national team.

    The young attacker was called up to the January camp roster and promptly scored the game-winning penalty in the USMNT's 1-0 win over Costa Rica. It was a sign of maturity and confidence from the teenage attacker, who later admitted that he had a "good feeling" he would score.

    In the last month, Llanez has been promoted to Wolfsburg's first team after scoring 11 goals and assisting six more with the U19s. With the club pushing for a European place, Llanez may have to wait for his Bundesliga debut but, if the club does fall back towards mid-table, the attacker could be the latest American to make his mark on the Bundesliga.

  6. Weston McKennie Schalke 2019-20

    Weston McKennie | Schalke

    If it's a position that doesn't involve wearing goalkeeper gloves, Weston McKennie has probably played there this season.

    McKennie has emerged as Schalke's Swiss Army Knife under former USMNT midfielder David Wagner, stepping in all over the field during what has been an injury-filled campaign for the club. He's played 24 games for Schalke this season and, with the league back underway, the club hopes to make a push towards a European berth from their current sixth-place spot.

    As for McKennie, the 21-year-old midfielder has rapidly developed into a key player and a leader for the U.S., becoming one of the more important players for the team going forward. This season has been his best yet, although Berhalter will likely hope to see him lock down a more consistent spot in the midfield.

  7. Alfredo Morales Fortuna Dusseldorf 07132018.jpg
    Christof Koespel

    Alfredo Morales | Fortuna Dusseldorf

    Alfredo Morales has found plenty of success in Germany. He's bounced between the top flight and the 2. Bundesliga several times throughout his career, having been a part of two promoted teams and two relegated teams while establishing himself as a valuable midfielder who can truly play at a higher level.

    However, he has struggled to ever lock down a role with the USMNT. He's earned just 16 caps and played in just one major tournament, the 2015 Gold Cup, and in that tournament he departed after the group stage. 

    Morales returned to the USMNT picture in November, joining the team for the Nations League, and there's a reason why. He's been as consistent as ever as part of the Fortuna Dusseldorf midfield, appearing 23 times for a club that still has a chance to stave off relegation. 

    At 30 years old, Morales is in the prime of his career and he may never be a key part of the USMNT midfield. But it does appear that he will continue to be a fixture in Germany as he looks to avoid another drop into the 2. Bundesliga. 

  8. Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund

    Gio Reyna | Borussia Dortmund

    The darling of American soccer at the moment, Gio Reyna's rise has somehow been both meteoric and expected. The son of American soccer royalty - Claudio and Danielle - Reyna was always expected to be a very good player, but few could see him blossoming into a player that was ready for this level at just 17 years old.

    Like Christian Pulisic before him, Reyna used a winter break call-up to make a push for a first-team spot at Dortmund. Now with that senior group, he hasn't looked back, scoring a stunning goal in the DFB-Pokal to announce his presence before teeing up Erling Haaland in Dortmund's Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain. The triumvirate of Reyna, Haaland and Jadon Sancho gives Dortmund one of the most exciting attacks in the world, despite the fact that the Englishman is the elder-statesman at just 20.

    Internationally, Reyna was set for his first USMNT call-up for friendlies against Wales and the Netherlands, although the outbreak of the coronavirus cancelled those matchups. It won't be of much concern for Reyna, though, who will have plenty of opportunities to represent the national team going forward as he evolves at a top talent-developer like Dortmund.

  9. Josh Sargent Werder Bremen
    Getty Images

    Josh Sargent | Werder Bremen

    It's safe to say that this hasn't been the season many expected from Sargent. The 20-year-old forward was expected to take a major leap this year, locking down a regular place while scoring boatloads of goals in the process. That hasn't happened.

    Featuring for a Werder Bremen team that appears destined for relegation, Sargent has struggled to lead from the front four a team that has proven inept in the attacking end. The team has scored just 27 goals this season while conceding 55 as they sit on just 18 points, two above last-place Paderborn.

    Sargent has scored just three goals in 848 minutes, having fired twice in 204 minutes last season. It's been a step back for Sargent, who hasn't been able to overcome the lack of service and find the back of the net.

    It's a worrying sign for the USMNT, who are banking on Sargent stepping into the No.9 role that has been held by Jozy Altidore for so long. The striker position remains a weakness for the U.S., making Sargent's next step vital as he looks to bounce back from what has been a down year so far.

  10. Zack Steffen Fortuna Dusseldorf 2019-20
    Getty Images

    Zack Steffen | Fortuna Dusseldorf

    Zack Steffen has been limited by injuries this season, and it appears that those injury issues could persist now that the Bundesliga is returning.

    After starting 17 matches before the winter break, Steffen was plagued by knee issues to start 2020. Then, once healthy, the goalkeeper suffered a new knee injury in one of Fortuna Dusseldorf's first training sessions following the Covid-19 outbreak. That injury could keep him out for the rest of the season, cutting short the Manchester City loanee's campaign.

    As a result, Steffen's next step will generate plenty of interest. There have been reports that Man City could bring him back next year as the club's No. 2 behind Ederson after Claudio Bravo's expected departure. The club could, of course, loan him out again, giving the USMNT No.1 more minutes to develop.

    Whatever happens, Steffen has locked down the starting job for the USMNT and is expected to be a key piece of the World Cup qualifying push.