The German Bundesliga season kicks off this weekend with a sizable contingent of Americans playing in the league. Here’s a look at what to expect from the league’s five Americans who earned a USMNT call-up in the past year.
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Defensive Midfield
Last Season: After joining Leipzig in January from the New York Red Bulls, Tyler Adams was immediately thrown into the starting lineup and impressed. He made 12 appearances in all competitions and had 2 assists, but he missed eight of the club’s last ten games due to injury. He helped guide Leipzig to third place in the league.
Upcoming Season: Adams will once again be a regular starter for a Leipzig side playing in the UEFA Champions League and looking to make a run at the title. His numbers will certainly be better in his first full Bundesliga season, but defensive midfielders like him will never score or assist frequently. Leipzig should finish in the top four, but they don’t seem to be at the level of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
Club: Schalke 04
Position: Central Midfield
Last Season: Weston McKennie was an integral player for Schalke, making 33 appearances in all competitions with 2 goals and 6 assists. However, McKennie never looked to be at his best. He was shunted around the pitch, featuring as a centerback, right back, defensive midfielder, box-to-box central midfielder, attacking central midfielder, right midfielder, and center forward. Schalke had a disastrous season, finishing 14th and losing 10-2 on aggregate to Manchester City in the Champions League Round of 16.
Upcoming Season: Look for McKennie and Schalke to greatly improve upon their 2018-2019 season. If McKennie is allowed to play in his natural position as a central midfielder, he should be able to score at least 5 goals. However, improving his stats should not be his biggest concern. McKennie covers a lot of ground but is prone to drifting out of position. He must become more disciplined in his movement. While Schalke have not made any big-name summer signings, the team is talented enough to challenge for a spot in the top six.
Last Season: John Brooks had a strong season for Wolfsburg. He featured in 32 matches, notching 3 goals and 3 assists. He was a commanding defensive presence as Wolfsburg finished 6th, just four points away from qualifying for the Champions League.
Upcoming Season: Expect another strong season from Brooks. While he generally played well last season, his performances against top four sides should have been better. Wolfsburg should finish somewhere between 6th and 8th in the table.
Club: Fortuna Düsseldorf (on loan from Manchester City)
Last Season: Zach Steffen left Columbus Crew SC in July to finally join Manchester City. His performances this season with Columbus were rather unimpressive. He had a 1.31 GAA (goals against average) and just 4 shutouts in thirteen games. However, the blame cannot be solely placed on him as most of the club’s players struggled and have continued to do so since his departure.
Upcoming Season: It’s hard to predict what to expect from Steffen, as he is not used to facing Bundesliga-level competition. I expect him to struggle, as Fortuna is a weak side, and it is difficult for goalkeepers on mediocre teams to impress. Fortuna punched above its weight last season, finishing 10th. It should be able to avoid relegation, but a mid-table finish might be too much to ask.
Club: Werder Bremen
Last Season: Josh Sargent began the 2018-2019 season with Werder Bremen’s reserve team, Werder Bremen II (4th division). After scoring 7 goals and adding 2 assists in 12 matches, he was promoted to the senior team. He made 10 Bundesliga appearances, primarily off the bench, and scored 2 goals. Bremen finished eighth, narrowly missing out on Europa League qualification.
Upcoming Season: Sargent has immense potential but is still raw. It will be tough for him to break into the starting lineup, as Bremen has several talented forwards including Johannes Eggestein, Yuya Osako, and Claudio Pizarro. Expect Sargent to make frequent substitute appearances as a striker, left and right winger. Expect Bremen to have a season similar to the previous one and likely finish somewhere from 7th to 10th.
Which of these five are you most looking forward to watching this season?