There are several dual-national recruiting pitches being made in advance of the 2026 World Cup, but a familiar name appears to have reentered the mix. After years of reported pursuit of Timothy Tillman by the United States Men’s National Team, the saga may be slowly drawing to a close. The 24-year-old midfielder recently made the move stateside and is thriving at Los Angeles FC in Major League Soccer. In an interview, he indicated interest in switching his international affiliation from Germany, which would team him up with his brother, Malik, and add another intriguing option to the player pool.
Timothy Tillman makes it three for @LAFC! pic.twitter.com/bsgCxpHlUc— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 13, 2023
Born in Nuremberg to a German mother and American father, Tillman spent his youth career with ASV Zirndorf, 1. SC Feucht, and Greuther Fürth before moving to the Bayern Munich youth set-up for a reported €500,000 fee. His departure was described as “a catastrophe” by the former club’s president. With the Bavarians, he competed with the U-17 and U-19 teams and was promoted to the reserves in 2017, being connected with transfers to Real Madrid and Barcelona. After making the match-day squad for the DFL-Supercup, his first season in the fourth-tier Regionalliga Bayern was a success with six goals and seven assists in 31 appearances, helping reach second in the table. Mainly competing as a winger, observers praised his “very good technique, quickness, and agility” when thriving in crowded areas, which led to being named to Goal’s NXGN list of top talents.
In July of 2018, Tillman joined FC Nürnberg on loan with an option to buy, also weighing a temporary move to FC Dallas. He split time between the senior and reserve levels, playing in six matches toward the end of the Bundesliga schedule that ended in relegation. The move was viewed as a bit of a setback with struggling for minutes and failing to live up to the “immense expectations” of his pedigree.
Timothy Tillman'ın enfes vuruşuyla Fürth 2-1 öne geçti pic.twitter.com/Hj6KQtTd54— Tivibu Spor (@tivibuspor) July 16, 2022
After rejoining Bayern, Tillman suffered a ruptured ligament injury in his first training session and dealt with a long rehabilitation process. Midway through the season, he returned to second-division side Greuther Fürth for “undisclosed transfer terms.” His first match back was a fantastic two-assist performance in a loss to Arminia Bielefeld, although that would be the sum total of his production in 12 appearances. The familiar environment provided the opportunity to grow and develop while gaining experience at a crucial age.
“I felt like coming home,” Tillman told SBI Soccer. “The club has made a very good development of infrastructure. But I still know many people from my first time here... I think Furth is perfect for young players. Of course, you have to fight for minutes, but when you do, you get a fair chance. The first half of the season at Bayern Munich II was hard, because of a longer injury for me. So, I came to Furth to come back to my form.”
☘️ @KleeblattFuerth ➕ Timothy #Tillman = ✨— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) January 4, 2022
What a way to net your first #Bundesliga goal in this thriller! Happy birthday to that man! pic.twitter.com/P7uVhAFufg
During the next season, Tillman featured in 27 league and cup matches, contributing three assists as Greuther Fürth was promoted to the Bundesliga. The return to the top division was difficult, with Kleeblätter (Cloverleaves) firmly rooted to the bottom of the table. His goal and three assists came before December during the dismal three-win campaign that never fully got off the ground and was mired in gloom. The club picked up the contract option through June of 2023, but talks of a longer-term extension stalled.
Back in the 2. Bundesliga, Tillman made 16 appearances and scored a goal but “didn’t play such a good role,” according to Tageszeitung. However, a unique opportunity became available, moving to LAFC for a “decent fee” reportedly in the “high-six-digit range” with “a share in future transfers.” After signing a two-year deal with a club option for 2026, the reigning MLS Cup champions expected him to make an immediate contribution, a belief on which he delivered.
Tillman has thrived in California, appearing in the first ten matches this season and rediscovering his scoring touch, remarking that the physicality and tactical level is “a mix between the first and second division [in Germany].” The league has twice named him to the Team of the Matchday for his performances in Weeks 3 and 5. He is enjoying living in Los Angeles and “felt comfortable from the first second” as the club pursues the CONCACAF Champions League title and a second MLS Cup.
Timothy Tillman's assist against Vancouver last night in #CCL pic.twitter.com/T4QV5M1hHR— Justin Moran (@kickswish) April 6, 2023
At the international level, Tillman competed with Germany from the U-16 through the U-19 teams. His most recent experience came in 2018 during qualification for that year’s UEFA European Under-19 Championship. There have been reports of a switch to the United States program over the years, exploring participation at a U-20 training camp in March of 2018. According to a interview with MLSSoccer.com, the federation has not contacted him recently, although any invitation would require “a one-time switch with FIFA.”
Tillman is a versatile six-feet-tall midfielder who began as a winger and a ten before shifting deeper into the formation in a box-to-box role. Observers describe him as a “resourceful trickster” who “loves to dribble” with “strong footwork in confined spaces.” He also works hard on defense and has improved his tackling numbers over past seasons. His quick combinations with teammates help to advance possession up the field and drive the counter-attack.
Timothy Tillman takes advantage of the mistake and #LAFC are up early. pic.twitter.com/WcJVh2M94p— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 26, 2023
“He has above average quickness and speed, making him more than capable of being an effective two-way, box to box midfielder,” wrote Marcus Chairez for Chasing a Cup. “He consistently uses his quickness and speed to beat defenders one on one and create advantages in transition. The strongest aspect of Timothy’s game is his technical ability. He is very comfortable and confident with the ball at his feet. I wouldn’t describe him as a highly creative dribbler, but he is very tidy and clean, the ball rarely gets too far from his feet and he is able to create advantages with his dribble. He’s also a very technical passer. He shows the ability to deliver a variety of accurate and well weighted balls with both of his feet.”
As of now, the ball appears to be in Tillman’s court, dependent on his filing of the one-time switch with FIFA. With two tournaments this upcoming summer, the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup, there are ample opportunities for him to be brought into the fold. The competition in the midfielder depth chart is fierce, but he brings a strong pedigree and would add another dimension to the USMNT.