Pulisic, Brooks and the American stars earning their stripes in the Bundesliga

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The USA climbed nine places to 26th in the latest FIFA World Rankings. With a star-spangled production line honing their craft in the best league in the world, it’s perhaps little wonder.

In Christian Pulisic, John Brooks, Bobby Wood, Fabian Johnson and Julian Green, the Bundesliga boasts a quintet of players who have starred in Germany in recent seasons.

bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the US players primed to become household names on either side of the Atlantic…

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Date of Birth: 18 September 1998

Position: Attacking midfielder

The poster boy of U.S. soccer, Pulisic has smashed records by the bucket-load since making his Bundesliga debut for Dortmund in February 2016.

The youngest U.S. player to appear in and start a FIFA World Cup qualifying match; the youngest non-German to score and net two goals in the Bundesliga; the youngest player to score and grab a brace for the USMNT; the youngest American to register a goal and assist in the UEFA Champions League; the youngest American to lift a major European trophy – the list is endless.

Watch: Pulisic’s trio of Bundesliga strikes from 2016/17

Pulisic is a natural-born head-turner and match-winner rolled into one. He carries the hopes of the world’s third-most populous nation on his shoulders, but has the personality and substance to deliver. The all-round midfield ace is the most gifted player the USA has ever produced; a veritable Bundesliga legend in the making – and still only 18.

“Last year was a good step for my development, it was my first full year as a professional,” Pulisic said after making 43 appearances in all competitions for BVB in 2016/17. “I want to build on that. I want to score goals and be dangerous on the pitch. I don’t feel the pressure from fans or media. Only I can put pressure on myself, but I’m trying to keep a lid on things as much as possible. We’re ready to challenge Bayern for the title.”

Club: Wolfsburg

DoB: 28 January 1993

Position: Central defender

Brooks became the most expensive American footballer of all time when he swapped hometown club Hertha Berlin for Wolfsburg at the end of May. A catalogue of towering displays at home and abroad suggest the USMNT heavyweight is worth every penny, however.

Brooks turned out 130 times in all competitions for Hertha, playing a starring role in their promotion to the top flight in 2012/13 and providing the rock-solid foundation on which last season’s top-six finish was based.

Brooks’ (r.) Wikipedia was edited to describe him as “The greatest Amercian since Abraham Lincoln” after he scored his maiden USA goal against Ghana at the 2014 World Cup.

His winning goal for the USA against Ghana at the 2014 World Cup earned him all-American hero status, a role that the colossal 24-year-old defender continues to enjoy to this very day for club and country.

As Wolfsburg head coach Andries Jonker neatly put it, “he is a real weapon.”

Club: Hamburg

DoB: 15 November 1992

Position: Striker

The proud owner of the record for the most goals in a single campaign by an American playing in Germany, Wood has flipped his career on its head in recent seasons.

Deemed surplus to requirements by boyhood club 1860 Munich and having scored just three goals in 15 appearances whilst on loan at Erzgebirge Aue, the Hawaii native excelled in the last chance saloon at Union Berlin in 2015/16.

Wood’s 17 goals in 31 Bundesliga 2 outings took him past Conor Casey as the USA’s all-time leading goalscorer in German football, prompting Bundesliga ever-presents Hamburg to make their move in summer 2016.

Wood scored with his very first touch in the Matchday 1 draw with Ingolstadt, with a further four strikes punctuating a debut Bundesliga campaign of great promise. A double-digit haul such as the one which kick-started his career in the capital has to be next on the 24-year-old’s hit list.

Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach

DoB: 11 December 1987

Position: Winger/full-back

Johnson is a seasoned USMNT international these days, but there was a time when the Gladbach wide player was tearing up the flanks in the white of Germany.

Munich-born Johnson played for the Under-17s through to U-21s, and even won the UEFA 2009 European U-21 Championship with Germany, before pledging his allegiance to the Stars and Stripes of his father’s homeland two years later.

Watch: Johnson’s Goal of the Season contender

The career-defining move coincided with what turned out to be his big break at club level with Hoffenheim – a three-season spell which shaped the 1860 and Wolfsburg cast-off into the ultra-malleable wide man he is today.

“It’s not like I need a couple of weeks, or even five or seven days to adjust to playing at right-back or left-back,” Gladbach’s 56-time USMNT international Johnson explained. “But I do think playing in midfield is the position where I feel the most comfortable. I think it’s just easier for me and I think I can help the team out more.”

Club: VfB Stuttgart

DoB: 6 June 1995

Position: Forward

Hell-bent on making it a case of third time lucky in the Bundesliga after underwhelming spells with Bayern Munich and Hamburg, Stuttgart’s Green has a big point to prove in 2017/18.

The Floridian forward rarely made it further than the fringes of the Bayern first team, despite becoming the youngest U.S. player in history to score at a World Cup in 2014, and turned out just five times whilst on loan at HSV.

Watch: Stuttgart’s Top 10 goals in 16/17 – including a stunner from Green at 1:06!

Being repurposed as a centre-forward hindered his development – the 22-year-old hasn’t played for the USMNT in almost a year – but Green has found a new lease of life on the flanks at last season’s Bundesliga 2 champions Stuttgart.

“I know what I can do and I know that I can score goals,” said Green, who grabbed the first league goal of his career on his second appearance in a VfB shirt in February. “There is always competition for places – I know that from Bayern – but if I do my best and score my goals I’m very confident I can play again for the USA.”

Click here to read about the next wave of USA stars eager to make a splash in the Bundesliga!



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