The group stage of the Champions League and Europa League has come to a close. Several United States-eligible players took the field in UEFA’s two largest continental club competitions. Let’s take a look at who played and what happened in the competitions as well as what to look forward to in the knockout round.
While Pulisic has seen his Bundesliga minutes decrease recently, he played a bunch in the Champions League. Pulisic played in all but one match in the group stage when he was out injured against Monaco. His greatest moment was easily the game-winning goal he scored on his 20th birthday on Matchday 1. Borussia Dortmund won Group A on goal differential over Atlético Madrid and will face Tottenham Hotspur in the Round of 16.
McKennie got off to a fantastic start to his career in the competition. On Matchday 1, McKennie delivered his first career assist on the opening goal that gave Schalke the lead against FC Porto. On Matchday 2, he scored a game-winner in the 88th minute on the road. Schalke finished second in their group behind FC Porto and also qualified for the Round of 16. They have been drawn against defending Premier League Champion Manchester City. If Pulisic and McKennie both play in the knockout round, it would be the first time since 2005 that two Americans (Landon Donovan with Bayer Leverkusen and DaMarcus Beasley with PSV Eindhoven) played in the Champions League Knockout Round in the same season.
Before the group stage started, it looked like Pulisic and McKennie might be the only two to feature in the competition with Horvath the backup at Club Brugge and Weah facing an uphill battle for playing time at PSG. However, Horvath won back the starting job at Club Brugge midway through the competition. Against Monaco on Matchday 3, Horvath became just the second American goalkeeper to ever play in the Champions League beyond the qualifying rounds (Tim Howard with Manchester United). That day was also the first time that 3 Americans appeared in Champions League on the same day since 2012 when Sacha Kljestan, Michael Parkhurst and Jermaine Jones did so. Horvath had a fine performance, keeping a clean sheet while recording 6 saves. Horvath started each of the last three matches of the group stage and didn’t surrender a single goal. Brugge finished in third in Group A, which qualifies them for the Europa League Round of 32. Club Brugge has been drawn against Austrian champion RB Salzburg. The 23-year-old deserves creit for a tremendous resurgence in recent weeks.
Saief had a very quiet campaign in the Europa League. The 25-year-old played in 5 matches in the group stage, but he failed to make enough of an impact. Anderlecht were only able to muster 3 points and they failed to advance to the knockout round.
Siebatcheu was an impact player for Stade Rennais in the Europa League. On matchday 1, Siebatcheu drew a penalty that a teammate put away to win the match. He scored one of his own on Matchday 4 as well. Stade Rennais advanced in their final group stage game against Astana. They have been drawn against Real Betis in the Round of 32.
Despite Gall’s success in the Swedish League in 2018, he failed to see much of the field in the competition this fall. He started each of the 6 matches on the bench and only appeared twice for 12 minutes of playing time. Malmö managed to beat Besiktas on the final matchday to advance to the Round of 32. They have an incredibly difficult draw against Chelsea.
Chandler has been out for an extended period of time following knee surgery. The 28-year-old has been unable to take part in any games this fall, but Eintracht Frankfurt dominated their group and qualified for the Round of 32 anyway. It’s unclear if Chandler would be healthy in time for their knockout round matchup against Shakhtar Donetsk, but it’s possible we could see him if they advance in the competition.
The two-leg knockout rounds will kick off in the middle of February so make sure to tune in to see our guys taking on some major competition. Hit the comment section to discuss what you thought of the Americans in these competitions this fall and what you expect from them and their clubs in the spring.