In an unprecedented season for American players abroad, there will be an unprecedented number of Americans on Champions League rosters.
Ten U.S. men’s national team players will be featuring on squads playing in this season’s UEFA Champions League, which marks a new record for a single season. Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Dortmund), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Sergiño Dest and Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona), Zack Steffen (Man City), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge) and Alex Mendez (Ajax) have all been named to their respective clubs’ “A lists,” which had to be submitted to UEFA ahead of the group stage.
“A lists” contain up to 25 players and must include at least two goalkeepers. “B lists” can contain an unlimited number of players, who are permitted to be added only up to 24 hours before given match. They must be born on or after Jan. 1, 1999, and, according to UEFA, each “B list” player must have “been eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years since his 15th birthday (players aged 16 may be submitted if they have been registered with the club for the previous two years).”
None of the Americans in the competition–all of whom are 25 or younger–need to worry about the “B List” stipulation, though. They’ll all have differing roles in the competition, and some are considerably more likely to feature than others. Steffen, Horvath, De la Fuente, Richards and Mendez, for instance, are not fixtures for their first teams and have only brief–if any–first-team experience. Yet being on these squads puts them an injury, suspension or coaching decision away from taking to the premier stage in European competition.
All eyes will surely be on the other five, who, if healthy, would likely be first-choice USMNT starters if Gregg Berhalter had to choose right now.
Pulisic’s Chelsea was drawn in a group with Sevilla, Krasnodar and Rennes, a group it will be favored to top. Pulisic just returned to action off the bench from a two-month injury layoff, and he’ll use the international break to continue working back toward 90-minute fitness, in hopes of picking up where he left off at his explosive end of last season.
Reyna’s Dortmund will face Zenit Saint Petersburg, Lazio and Horvath’s Club Brugge (Horvath has regularly been the backup to Simon Mignolet for the Belgian champions). Reyna, who remains uncapped at the senior national team level but only as a result of the pandemic, has become a trusted starter at Dortmund, with his three-assist performance last weekend drawing an ovation from the select number of fans allowed at Signal Iduna Park.
Adams, whose goal put RB Leipzig in last season’s semifinals, will face PSG, Manchester United and Istanbul Basaksehir in what is widely being considered as the competition’s group of death.
Dest’s (and de la Fuente’s) Barcelona and McKennie’s Juventus, meanwhile will face each other in addition to Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros in their group.
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