Americans in the Bundesliga
The Bundesliga is the top tier of German soccer and one of Europe’s five biggest domestic competitions, along with the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1.
More Americans have played in the Bundesliga than any of the other divisions mentioned above. Since its launch in 1963, Germany’s leading league has provided a home to more than 50 US nationals, including Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Eric Wynalda, and the country’s current manager, Gregg Berhalter.
There are 9 Americans plying their trade in the Bundesliga in 2020, and we have profiled each of them below.
Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)
Adams progressed to the New York Red Bulls first team in 2016, having previously represented the club’s reserve side in the United Soccer League. The midfielder made 74 outings in all competitions and helped the Red Bulls reach the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time in 2018.
A year later, Adams moved to Germany with RB Leipzig – an up-and-coming force in the Bundesliga which is also owned by energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull. Injury problems have restricted his appearances for Leipzig, but at 21 years of age Adams still has time on his side.
Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Born in Pennsylvania in 1995, Steffen spent his early years playing as a defender before taking up his current position of goalkeeper. He was part of the Philadelphia Union academy but has never played a match in MLS, having moved to Freiburg in the 2014/15 season.
Steffen only ever played for the club’s reserve team, before returning to the US with Columbus Crew in 2016. He was signed by Manchester City three years later and immediately sent on loan to Fortuna Dusseldorf, where he has been the first-choice goalkeeper in the 2019/20 campaign.
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
McKennie is one of the most talked-about members of the current US squad, having scored six goals in his first 19 games for his country. The midfielder spent seven years on the books of FC Dallas but ultimately rejected the chance to sign a Homegrown Player contract with the MLS team.
McKennie instead moved to Schalke in 2016. He was promoted to the first-team squad after just a few months in the academy, making his senior debut towards the end of the 2016/17 season. McKennie is now in his third campaign as a Scha
lke regular and notably helped the club finish second in the Bundesliga in 2017/18.
John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Brooks played for both Germany and the United States at the Under-20 level, before deciding to represent the latter’s senior side. The son of an American serviceman, Brooks was born in Berlin and has never represented an MLS team nor lived in the US.
The center-back came through the academy ranks at Hertha Berlin and made his Bundesliga debut in 2003. He went on to play 130 times for the capital club before joining current employer Wolfsburg ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Sargent trained with Dutch side PSV and German outfit Schalke before his 18th birthday, while Sporting Kansas City held his acquisition rights for MLS. In the end, though, it was Werder Bremen that won the race for his signature, tying the forward down to a professional contract in 2018.
Sargent made his maiden appearance for the first team in December of that year. It was an occasion to remember for the Missouri-born attacker, who scored with his first touch two minutes after coming on as a substitute – the fastest goal by a debutant in Werder’s history.
Timothy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Chandler was born in Frankfurt to a German mother and an American father who served in the US military. He joined Eintracht’s academy as an 11-year-old and went on to play 50 times for the club’s reserves, but he was never handed a first-team appearance by the Bundesliga outfit.
Chandler signed for Nurnberg in 2010 and became a regular starter for the club that has won more German league titles than any other team bar Bayern Munich. Eintracht re-signed the right-back in 2014 and he remains at the Commerzbank-Arena today.
Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Another Germany-born United States international, Johnson played for the European nation at Under-17, Under-18, Under-19, Under-20, and Under-21 level, before opting for the US senior team. He began his club career at 1860 Munich in the second division before the versatile defender/midfielder moved to Wolfsburg in 2009.
Johnson’s two seasons at the Volkswagen Arena yielded just 18 appearances, paving the way for a switch to Hoffenheim. He then joined Borussia Monchengladbach in 2014 and is closing in on 150 games for the club. Now in his 11th consecutive season in the division, Johnson is the Bundesliga’s longest-serving American.
Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)
There is plenty of hype surrounding the 17-year-old Reyna right now. Both of the attacking midfielder’s parents played for the US national team, although Giovanni was born in the north of England as father Claudio was contracted to then-Premier League side Sunderland at the time.
Reyna has yet to make his senior debut for the US, although it is surely only a matter of time for a player with his talent. The Borussia Dortmund teenager became the youngest American to appear in the Bundesliga in January 2020 and is the third-youngest player of any nationality to feature in the Champions League knockout stage following his outing for against PSG in February.
Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
Born in Berlin to German and US citizens, Morales was also eligible to represent Peru at the international level – his father was born in the South American country before moving to the States and going on to serve in the military.
Morales threw his lot in with the US in 2013, but his entire club career to date has been spent in the German game. The defensive midfielder started out with Hertha Berlin, then enjoyed five years at Ingolstadt before joining Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2018. Morales is nearing 100 Bundesliga appearances, having also played 103 times in the second tier.