Bundesliga players to know: Nine Americans, one Canadian to watch during restart

Sporting News

The Bundesliga returns this weekend. After nearly two months of no matches around the world, many soccer fans, some for the first time, will be tuning in to watch Germany's top teams.

In recent years, the Bundesliga has provided a place for young American players to showcase their talents. Look no further than Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic, who announced himself to the world with his stellar play at Borussia Dortmund. He's become the blueprint for the incoming generation looking to fill spots on the USMNT, with several young players making the move from the States to teams like Bayern, Leipzig and Schalke.

Not only has the Bundesliga been a place for young Americans to get their start, but also a place where older players can get a fresh start and reignite their careers.

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Here's a look at nine Americans, as well as a Canadian who played in the MLS, that you should keep an eye on during the Bundesliga return.

Weston McKennie (Schalke)

At just 21 years old, McKennie has already become a regular in the midfield for a Schalke side that currently sits in sixth place and is fighting for Europa Leage qualification. McKennie is a true box-to-box midfielder with the ability to drop back in defense and push forward to join the attack. Expect him to play a crucial role in Saturday's Revierderby at Borussia Dortmund, as well as the remainder of the season for the Royal Blues.

Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)

He may be the lone Canadian on this list, but he's probably the best player of the bunch. The 19-year-old left the Vancouver Whitecaps to join Bayern in the summer of 2018, and ever since he made his debut he's flourished as a left back, putting in top-notch performances against some of the best wingers in the league. His incredible pace makes him a dynamic threat going forward while also allowing him to recover and make goal-saving tackles.He's a big reason as to why Bayern sits on top of the league table, and with some big fixtures coming up in the next few weeks they'll need him to continue that great run of form.

Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund)

Son of former US international Claudio, Reyna has made huge waves in his debut with the senior team in Dortmund at just 17 years old. He's only made eight Bundesliga appearances this season, all of which he came off the bench, but don't be surprised if he earns some starts soon, especially with Marco Reus, Axel Witsel and Emre Can all ruled out of this weekend's clash with Schalke due to injuries. Reyna played in all seven games of the second half before the season was suspended, so it's entirely possible he makes his Revierderby debut on Saturday. And he might have an important role to play in Dortmund's title chase with Der Klassiker against Bayern Munich coming up in a couple of weeks.

If he manages to top his first senior goal, expect the hype surrounding him to get even bigger.

MORE: Is Giovanni Reyna the next Christian Pulisic?

Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig)

It's been a rough season for the 21-year-old Adams. After joining Leipzig in January of 2019 he plugged right into the starting midfield and made an instant impact. But this year he's only been able to play in five games due to a recurring groin injury. Four of those five came in the second half of the season, before a calf injury set him back. He was available off the bench in Leipzig's last game, a draw against Wolfsburg, but did not appear. With the time off due to the suspended season, it looks like he'll be ready to go for this weekend's match against Freiburg, so look for him to potentially get the start.

Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)

While the first four players on this list are trying to help their teams either win a title or earn a place in European competition, Sargent's trying to help Werder Bremen avoid relegation.

It hasn't been all bad for the 20-year-old. He's played in 18 of Bremen's 24 matches and has featured in all seven fixtures in 2020, scoring three goals and adding two assists. In Bremen's last game before the season was suspended, he scored a crucial goal in a 2-2 draw at Hertha Berlin. If the team is going to avoid relegation, they'll need Sargent to continue to find the back of the net whether it's as a starter or off the bench.

Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg)

Llanez is yet to make his senior team debut for Wolfsburg, but don't be surprised if that comes soon. The 19-year-old winger was recently promoted to the first team after scoring 11 goals and dealing six assists with Wolfsburg's U19 squad. It's possible that his debut could be held off as the team continues to push for Europa League qualification, but he might be able to provide the spark they need.

John Brooks (Wolfsburg)

You might best remember Brooks for his game-winning header in the 2014 World Cup against Ghana, but Brooks has made a name for himself in the Bundesliga as one of the league's most reliable defenders. He missed a short spell in the first half of the season due to a hamstring injury, but bounced back well and has been Wolfsburg's top defender all season. The team has won 47.6 percent of its matches with Brooks, averaging 1.66 points and 1.23 goals conceded per game, compared to winning just 33 percent of matches without him, averaging 1.4 points and 1.53 goals conceded. The 27-year-old Brooks will look to continue to hold down Wolfsburg's backline, and maybe even score a header or two as they fight for a Europa League spot.

Timothy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Things weren't looking great for Chandler coming into the season. He missed most of the 2018-2019 campaign with a serious knee injury, and at 30 years old it looked like the fullback's best days might be behind him. He started this season on the bench, but after the team hit a rough patch of form, head coach Adi Hütter was forced to switch things up, moving from a back three to a back four, allowing Chandler more room down the right flank. After the calendar year, he started in six of seven games for Frankfurt, collecting four goals and an assist over that stretch to put the team back within shouting distance of a top-six finish.

Zack Steffen (Fortuna Dusseldorf)

This one might need to come with an asterisk. Steffen had an excellent first half of the season. The 25-year-old goalkeeper was one of the few bright spots for a Dusseldorf side that's in the middle of a relegation battle; in the first 17 matches of the season, he recorded 67 saves, good for second-most in the Bundesliga. But he's missed the entire second half of the season with a knee injury, and a couple weeks ago he reinjured it in training. He won't play in Saturday's game against Paderborn, with his expected return expected to be 2-4 weeks. But if he's able to get back to fitness, he could play a key role down the stretch in helping Dusseldorf avoid relegation.

Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf)

Once again, things haven't been going too well for Dusseldorf this season, but the play of Morales in the defensive midfield has been a pleasant surprise. His aggressive style has earned the 29-year-old a regular spot in the lineup and even gained enough attention to earn a call up to the national team for the first time in three years. If Dusseldorf is going to avoid relegation, they'll need him to put in some stellar performances in the middle of the park.

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