Tim Ream (Fulham)
If anybody on this list can be described as a stalwart, it’s Ream, who started 47 Championship games last year (including the playoffs) as Fulham defeated Aston Villa in the playoff final to take their spot in the top flight. Ream didn’t produce much on the scoresheet, but he was massive at center back on a team which averaged exactly one goal conceded a
Danny Williams (Huddersfield)
Williams has made a name for himself in the top flight since joining newly promoted Huddersfield last summer from Reading (who had lost to the Terriers in the playoff final the previous year). Williams made 20 league appearances from the deep-lying midfielder role, with his season ending early due to a leg injury. Although he isn’t the most creative going forward, Williams provides stability for the Terriers when he’s fit. Manager David Wagner skews towards a defensive mindset — to be expected given the competition he is against — and that makes the German-born American (the midfielder, not the coach) a great choice. However, Williams will again have to fight for his minutes this year. He isn’t head and shoulders above the competition in the squad, but he is surely good enough to get his fair share of run in Wagner’s side. At 29, Williams could be primed for his best year yet, though he probably won’t be ready for the opening day.
DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
Yedlin was one of the first names on the weekly team sheet for Rafa Benitez last season as the right back came second in league minutes for the Magpies. At 25, Yedlin hasn’t quite turned into the beast many thought he would become when Tottenham picked him up a few years ago, but playing one season in the Championship with Newcastle — and then rising to the top flight with them last year — has done wonders for the lightning-quick wide player. Yedlin is not afraid to bomb forward at a moment’s notice, and he helps Benitez’s side keep the pressure on deep into the opponent’s half. His actual defensive ability takes some flack, but his speed has been able to make up for what he lacks in sheer tackling ability, and he’s improved under Benitez’s tutelage over the past few years. His ability to track back has saved his club (and the USMNT) on more than one occasion, and that makes him a valuable add. Yedlin isn’t that far away from becoming a force if the technical aspect of his game matures.
Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur)
Carter-Vickers was a key part of both Sheffield United’s and Ipswich Town’s setups last year during a pair of loans (after he was recalled from the former midseason). Carter-Vickers is a viable option for another loan, but if Tottenham elect to sell Toby Alderweireld and don’t replace him, the center back could find himself on the fringes of the first team set up. The stocky ball-winner is tough to get around and is surely good enough to get minutes in the top flight somewhere, but he might have to settle for another year proving himself in the Championship. EIther way, at 20, he has a bright future in store and is primed to continue his ascent this season.
Emerson Hyndman (Bournemouth)
Hyndman is a curious case entering this campaign as his spot in the Bournemouth side is far from confirmed. On one hand, it’s good news that the EPL side is not selling or loaning him (at least as of now), but he could barely get a look last season, playing in just three game in all competitions for the Cherries. If Hyndman is to develop, the 22-year-old needs first-team minutes, something he hasn’t received since a midseason loan to Rangers of Scotland in the 2016-17 campaign. The central midfielder is a Texas native and has come out of the famed (at least in the states) FC Dallas youth academy, so the building blocks are there. Whether he can consistently break into the top XI this year is a question worth keeping an eye on.
Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic, on loan from Everton)
Robinson had a breakout campaign for Bolton last season in the Championship, and he will again ply his trade in the second tier this season via a loan to newly promoted Wigan. Everton don’t quite think the left back is ready to make the jump to the top flight this season, but the future is certainly bright for the 20-year-old, who has turned a few heads in the past 12 months. Robinson made his debut this season in Wigan’s 3-2 opening-day win over Sheffield and impressed with his play, which included an 80-yard run from his own half with the ball that ultimately ended with a Wigan goal after his cross wasn’t properly cleared. He should get a crack in the side most weeks and will need to soak up those minutes for a second straight season.
John Anthony Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Brooks took a move for money last season when he changed from Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg, and though he is being paid handsomely, the center back now finds himself on a struggling side. Brooks will have to be the lynchpin of the defense for Wolfsburg to avoid another relegation battle (which last year ended with them staying up in the relegation playoff). Brooks is probably the best defender in the USMNT setup at the moment, and the 25-year-old was solid when he was available for his side last season. However, he’ll need to show he can stay on the field after making just nine league appearances last year. Now healthy, Brooks should get the lion’s share of starts at center back for a team and fan base that desperately need a positive season, but he needs to remain healthy.
Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Chandler is another Bundesliga player who was hampered by injury last year, which caused him to miss over two months of the season. The right back and winger still made 24 appearances for Frankfurt, however, and showed why he is clearly in or near the first XI when healthy. Chandler isn’t the flashiest player, but he does provide a threat going forward, scoring two goals and assisted on four last year in his best-ever league campaign for the Eagles. That kind of production is amazing, and combined with his defensive ability, it makes him a very solid wide option for the middle-of-the-road side which will be playing Europa League football this year. It will be interesting to see how Chandler performs on European nights.
Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen)
Where Johannsson will end up this year is just about anybody’s guess. The forward could barely get a sniff in the Bremen side early last year, but after a midseason coaching change, the Icelandic-American striker did factor into 12 games, making the difference in a couple. Still, his move to Bremen never seemed to quite stick, and during his three seasons at the German club, he has rarely featured due to recurring injury issues. Worse, despite rumours of a transfer almost every window, he remains stuck in purgatory. Johannsson was firing in goals for AZ in the Eredivisie before making the jump to Germany, so the talent is there, but the 27-year-old is quickly running out of years. If he doesn’t make his way into a first team soon (whether at Bremen or elsewhere), he is risking wasting his prime.
Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen)
Sargent burst onto the USMNT scene late in the 2016-17 season with a fantastic display at the U-20 World Cup, during which he was just 17 years old. The striker then inked a move to Werder Bremen last season which saw him move over in January before becoming a full professional on his 18th birthday in February. He has been playing with the first side in friendlies this summer, but a loan spell seems possible as well given his age. At just 18, Sargent is already pegged for a major role in the USMNT setup for years to come, and he might even start to enter the Christian Pulisic sphere should he get time in the Bundesliga. He’s one of the highest-touted prospects our country has to offer at the moment, and his progress is worth tracking even whether he gets into the Bremen setup this year or not. They didn’t sign him for this year — it was surely a long-term play — but he’s exceeded expectations at every step of his career so far.
Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Johnson is another aging member of the USMNT side who will probably be around the national team for the next few years thanks to his experience and veteran presence. However, the same cannot be said for his club situation, in which he saw a major regression last year. When healthy, Johnson struggled to get looks and ended with just 12 appearances in all competitions after seeing more than 30 in each of the previous three seasons with Gladbach. He is playing with the first team in friendlies, but the jury is still out as to whether or not the winger will get a decent chunk of playing time this season.
Weston McKennie (Schalke)
McKennie, on the other hand, is another highly touted recent breakout performer for the USMNT, and at 19, he too has a massively bright future in store. McKennie started 13 games and made nine substitute appearances in the center of midfield for Schalke, who finished second in the Bundesliga last year. He isn’t quite a first choice, but his age, talent, and form for a top-notch German club are giving USMNT fans a reason to beam. What’s more, McKennie is capable of controlling a game from a deep-lying midfielder role, a critical attribute that the USMNT has lacked in recent years. He’s certainly in Schalke’s plans for the season and is on the center of the radar for the USA, who will call him up at every chance possible. He, along with Pulisic and Sargent, represent the future of the USMNT.
Alfredo Morales (Fortuna Dusseldorf)
After a successful 2. Bundesliga campaign, Morales has gotten the call, being transferred to newly promoted Fortuna Dusseldorf, who will do their best to stay in the top flight at season’s end. Morales was key member of Ingolstadt’s last three teams, two of which were played in the top flight, so he brings experience with him. The 28-year-old central midfielder mostly plays in a holding role, but he did bang in four goals from that position last year, so he is good for the occasional jaunt forward. Dusseldorf certainly didn’t buy him to sit on the bench, but he will have to earn his minutes in a side that will do anything it can to stay afloat.
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
There’s really no introduction needed for Pulisic anymore. The central figure of the USMNT rebuild didn’t have his best last year with Dortmund and potentially even took a small step back from what his performances two seasons ago during his breakout. Still, Pulisic remains a constant threat on the wing and isn’t scared to go at anyone, regardless of pedigree. His dribbles aren’t always successful (he had a poor rate last year), but his fearless play is worth noting nonetheless. He’s in a very competitive side, so minutes aren’t always the easiest to come by, but rest assured, Pulisic will get his fair share of action this season. If you are looking for someone on the list who is liable to produce a memorable weekend at a moment’s notice, look no further than Pulisic.
Timothy Tillman (FC Nurnberg, on loan from Bayern Munich)
Bobby Wood (Hannover, on loan from Hamburg) (L)
Last year was not a good one for Bobby Wood. He struggled mightily in the Bundesliga, scoring just twice for Hamburg, who were promptly relegated at year’s end. Yet, somehow, another top-flight team has taken on his risk as Hannover try to bolster their attack force. Wood has shown signs of brilliance, including being one of the top marksmen in the 2. Bundesliga a couple of years back, but that simply hasn’t translated to the highest level. At 25, it is starting to get to that time where Wood needs to be producing regularly to prove he belongs at the top tier of European football. It’s not out of the question, but it won’t come easy either.
Julian Green (Greuther Fuerth)
Based on potential alone, Green makes the list as the only second-tier player from Germany. After making the 2014 World Cup team, Green felt the pressure of American football on him and just hasn’t lived up to expectations yet after crashing out of Bayern’s setup. At 23, the attacking midfielder has a bit of time to right his course, but regardless, it doesn’t look like he will turn out to be the player many were hoping four years ago. The good news, though, is that he’s playing. Green started Greuther’s opening game of the year, a 3-1 win over Sandhausen, playing 66 minutes and passing at an 83 percent clip while having four shots. If he is going to win a national team spot, the first ingredient is playing time.
Matt Miazga (Nantes, on loan from Chelsea)
Miazga can’t quite get into the Chelsea team, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a formidable center back at this stage of his career. In 2016-17, he helped Vitesse win the KNVB Cup and backed that up during his second year on loan at the club by becoming a stalwart in the side. He now joins a Nantes side that will be thankful to have his talents for the season. Miazga is a big and imposing center back who is still raw but is great in the air nonetheless. He should slide right into the Nantes XI and, like he was last season, be a mainstay. Nantes were ninth in Ligue 1 last year, so they are no slouches and should be a good step up for the 23-year-old. He might never be elite, but Miazga has already proven himself as a competent weekly starter in big, European leagues. He should be well within the USMNT setup for the next four years and beyond.
Jordan Siebatcheu (Rennes)
Siebatcheu was always getting an upgrade this season. After finishing as the second-leading scorer in Ligue 2 for Reims, who ran away with the title, he was destined to get his shot in the top flight. Then, Rennes poached the promising forward, and he now joins a side that finished fifth last year. Rennes scored 50 league goals in 2017-18, while each of the top four scored 80 or more (there was quite a gap between fourth and fifth on points too, as expected). But that means Siebatcheu could see the field quite a bit as the first-choice striker for a side with lofty expectations to potentially start bridging the gap. At 22, he’s liable to go in any direction and certainly isn’t fully molded, but Siebatcheu could be poised to make an immediate impact in the top flight.
Timothy Weah (PSG)
Wow wow Weah. The 18-year-old New York City native burst onto the scene last year, making appearances for PSG’s first team near the end of the season (albeit once the league was wrapped up). After a good offseason of friendlies, Weah proved the club’s faith in him valid by scoring in the French Super Cup in a 4-0 win over Monaco. Even better, PSG got a new coach in Thomas Tuchel this season, and it seems like the German boss has taken a liking to Weah given his play time so far. It’s always contentious when a new coach comes in, but this could be a good thing for Weah, who might just be in line for more than a few-first team minutes either on the wing or centrally.
Andrija Novakovich (Fortuna Sittard, on loan from Reading)
Novakovich is another player USA fans will likely hear more about this year, be it positive or negative. The 21-year-old forward showed real signs of class on loan at Telsar in the Dutch Second Division, but it’s very hard to say whether he is going to make an impact on a bigger stage. Fortuna Sittard were newly promoted, meaning the striker might be starved of service for a chunk of the campaign. If Novakovich can make good on limited chances, he might just earn himself a move back to Reading and a real shot in England. It’s not make or break for the forward this season, but it is time for him to show USMNT fans that he has the framework to develop into a real talent.
Erik Palmer-Brown (NAC Breda, on loan from Manchester City)
It’s a bit of a similar story for Palmer-Brown who, also at 21, needs to start performing at a higher level than he has shown, although he’s still new to European football. The Dutch league might just help him (and Novakovich) do so, as it is a great place to grow and a clear step up from the Belgian league, where he played last year. Palmer-Brown patrols the other end of the pitch at center back and should have his work cut out for him for last year’s 14th-place side. He probably won’t get into the action every week, but he wasn’t brought in to occupy a bench spot.
Keaton Parks (Benfica, Primeira Liga) (L)
Parks might be in the best position any of these 21-year-olds after breaking into the Benfica side for a few substitute appearances last year. It’s not much, but the fact that he’s not going out on loan proves the Portuguese outfit want to keep him close, and that could lead to more minutes. The Texan central midfielder seems like he might have something to offer the USMNT set up, particularly if he’s able to develop the technical side of his game while in Portugal.
Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, Championship)
At 33, Cameron still has something left to give, and it looks like he’ll remain with Stoke as they attempt to bounce back into the Premier League. He played just 20 games a season ago due to injury and manager preference, and as he fades into the back stretch of his career, he may again lose time to younger, fresher legs, although he is still set to fight for minutes in the Stoke midfield and defense. He was unavailable for the Potters’ season-opening 3-1 loss to Leeds after traveling back stateside in the midweek due to a family emergency, but he’s expected to be ready and in the squad for the home opener this coming weekend against Brentford.
Eric Lichaj (Hull City, Championship)
Lichaj showed last season that he’s still capable of the occasional standout showing, and his summer move from Nottingham Forest to Hull City should allow him to further prove so. At Forest, Lichaj fought for minutes in a squad deep along the defense; at Hull, he’ll likely be among the first names on the team sheet in a relatively thin outfit. That was the case in the season opener Monday as Lichaj lined up at right back for the Tigers, although they were beaten 3-1 by another of Lichaj’s former clubs, Aston Villa. Despite the scoreline, the 29-year-old had a good debut, finishing with a team-high 86 touches of the ball and six tackles in seven attempts while pushing into the attack effectively. Hull lost the match, but none of the goals came down the right side of the pitch, while there were signs of a blossoming partnership between Lichaj and winger Jarrod Bowen, who scored 14 goals last year. The table is set for a solid debut season for the USMNT veteran.
Gboly Ariyibi (Nottingham Forest, Championship)
It seems that Ariyibi will move away from Forest again
Lynden Gooch (Sunderland, League 1)
Gooch showed loyalty to the club he’s been at since he was 10, resisting offers from Championship sides to become a key player for Sunderland in the third tier. That decision looks like a good one after the opening match of the season, in which Gooch powered home a 96th-minute header to send the home fans into pandemonium and lift Sunderland to a 2-1 win over Charlton. Seconds after an embarrassingly failed attempt to trap a driven pass from a corner kick, Gooch snuck forward at the back post to nod Bryan Oviedo’s cross into the back of the net as Sunderland stole a win at the deaths. The 22-year-old was effective throughout the match in challenging opposition defenders, and he should realistically be able to thrive at a League 1 level. If he can do so, his stay in the division could be a short one, either by virtue of Sunderland earning promotion or from one of the clubs that was interested in him in the summer coming back next year.
Duane Holmes (Scunthorpe United, League 1)
Likewise, there was reported interest in Holmes late last season and early in the summer, but he appears to have chosen to stay at Scunthorpe and be a key player rather than switch to an unknown fate elsewhere. He didn’t start the first game of the season, but he nonetheless proved himself vital to the Iron, coming on with his side a goal down in the 58th minute and helping flip the script completely. Ten minutes after coming on, Holmes played teammate Stephen Humphrys in on goal for the equalizer with a clever, perfectly weighted through ball. He was involved in the winner as well when he got his body between the ball and a defender, freeing Andy Dales to strike home from the top of the box. Scunthorpe have fought for promotion before falling short in each of the past two seasons, and Holmes will be counted on to deliver if they’re going to do so again.
Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg, Bundesliga)
The odds of Stanko becoming an important figure for Freiburg at some point this season seem pretty low, which is why he finds himself in this section of the article. Stanko is 25 and is mostly a reserve, as he played in just six matches a season ago. There are whispers that Freiburg are in fact looking to sell Stanko, but there hasn’t been any movement on that front as of yet. Regardless, it’ll be very interesting to see what happens in the coming days and weeks.
Terrence Boyd (Darmstadt, 2. Bundesliga)
Boyd hasn’t lived up to the lofty expectations some saddled on him early in his career largely due to injury, but it’s undeniable now that a return to the national team picture seems unlikely for the 27-year-old. It doesn’t help his case that he scored just four goals in 24 appearances last season and played for less than a minute in Dartmstadt’s 1-0 opening-day win over Paderborn. Boyd figures to be a rotation option for the Lillies this season, but that potential seems a long way off.
McKinze Gaines (Darmstadt, 2. Bundesliga)
Like Boyd, Gaines was on the bench for Darmstadt’s season opener, although he didn’t come into the contest, and his situation is far different than his elder teammate’s. The 20-year-old made just two first-team appearances last year and is looking to break into the senior side consistently, so a place on the bench for the first game isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He’ll look to build on it and start to work his way onto the pitch consistently over the coming months.
Jann George (Jahn Regensburg, 2. Bundesliga)
It doesn’t appear that George is anywhere near the attentions of the U.S. soccer hierarchy, but the German-born forward has at least earned some notice over the past two years while helping Jahn Regensburg get to and stay in the second division. After tallying seven goals in 29 appearances, George was unsurprisingly in the starting XI for the opening day and played 85 mostly uneventful minutes in his side’s 2-1 win over Ingolstadt. He recorded two key passes but wasn’t involved in either goal his team scored, although that won’t matter too much as Regensburg got the season off to a winning start. At 26, George conceivably should be about to come into his prime, so now would be a good time to start catching the eyes of scouts if he’s ever going to earn a national-team look.
Ken Gipson (Sandhausen, 2. Bundesliga)
Gipson, 22, moved to Sandhausen from RB Leipzig last summer and played three times for the first team before suffering a broken leg in training over the winter break. He missed the rest of the season, but Gipson has recovered quickly and is reportedly fit for action, although he didn’t make the 18-man squad for the season-opening 3-1 loss to Greuther Fuerth. This will be an important season as the right back attempts to work his way into the fold for Sandhausen.
Andrew Wooten (Sandhausen, 2. Bundesliga)
Wooten, meanwhile, missed almost all of last season due to injury, and the new campaign has started out in similar fashion with the forward still on his way back to full fitness. It remains to be seen whether or not the 28-year-old, who has made one USMNT appearance, can come all the way back to full health, but it does seem unlikely that he’ll ever flash back to the national team radar. If he plans to, he should start as soon as possible.
Joe Gyau (Duisburg, 2. Bundesliga)
Many American fans will remember Gyau’s name. The former Dortmund starlet was ravaged by injuries throughout his time with the Black and Yellows, and he has popped back up again. The now-25-year-old impressed at third-tier Sonnenhof Großaspach over the past year and a half, and he has earned a promotion to the second division by way of a transfer to MSV Duisburg. It’ll be a challenge for Gyau, but it’s a necessary one if he’s ever going to add to the two caps he earned way back in 2014. He was an unused substitute in the opener, a 1-0 loss to Dynamo Dresden, but at least he’s back on the pitch and in at least something of a noteworthy league. He just may be on his way back to the spotlight, though the road ahead is lengthy.
Kevin Lankford (Heidenheim, 2. Bundesliga)
Lankford is something of an unknown, but he started to blossom for Heidenheim over the second half of last season. A 19-year-old winger, Lankford played in 14 games last year, starting five, and tallying one assist while generally impressing with his positive play as a substitute. He reprised that role in the season opener, entering with 22 minutes to play and Heidenheim level with Arminia Bielefeld at one. That would be the final, but Lankford was again threatening down the right wing for his team. He’ll hope for more of the same, and for more goals, assists, and minutes to come along with those performances.
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge, Jupiler League)
It’s been an up-and-down ride over the past few seasons for Horvath, who lost his starting place at Brugge last season amidst a flurry of mistakes before winning it back late in the campaign. The 23-year-old keeper could be on the move from Brugge before the end of the transfer window, as it looks like he’ll be a backup if he doesn’t do so. He’s been on the bench for each of his team’s first two matches this season, and while he’s stolen the starting job before, it doesn’t seem he’s too likely to take it back any time soon.
Brendan Hines-Ike (Kortrijk, Jupiler League)
Most American fans don’t know much about Hines-Ike, but Belgian side Kortrijk certainly did when they purchased him this summer from Swedish side Orebro for a fee that amounted to a club record for the Swedes. The center back was brought in to replace Palmer-Brown, who played for Kortrijk over the second half of last season on loan from Manchester City, and he has immediately slotted into the back four to start the season. He didn’t have a great start as he and his fellow defenders conceded four times in a loss to Anderlecht, but they rebounded well with a shutout in game two, although the attack couldn’t get it done in a scoreless draw with Royal Antwerp. One other note with Hines-Ike is that he’s eligible to play for Ireland, and the Irish FA are reportedly interested in calling him up, so that’ll be interesting to watch. Either way, if he keeps playing well, it looks like the 23-year-old might be able to carve himself out a niche on the international scene.
Kenny Saief (Anderlecht, Jupiler League)
Saief’s loan move from Gent to Anderlecht was made permanent early in the summer, so he was able to not skip a beat in preparation for the new season while also getting some time with the USMNT. That was the plan, at least. Alas, Saief suffered yet another injury, forcing him to leave the national team camp before the European trip, and he has still yet to return to action for Anderlecht. They haven’t missed him much as they scored nine goals in two games, but Saief will be itching to get back onto the pitch, particularly with the Europa League group stage coming up.
Kekuta Manneh (St. Gallen, Swiss Super League)
Another name unfamiliar to some, Manneh is a 23-year-old winger who moved from the Columbus Crew to St. Gallen by way of Pachuca this summer. He was a dynamic player over a number of years for both the Crew and the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS, so Manneh should be good enough to earn some minutes somewhere in Europe. So far, he’s sat on the bench in each of St. Gallen’s five games as they’ve started with two wins and a draw in the league but gone out of the Europa League. Still, he’s in the 18-man squad, so it should just be a matter of time before he sees the pitch.
Shaq Moore (CF Reus, on loan from Levante, Segunda Liga)
After bursting onto the scene last season for Levante and earning a national team debut, Moore will spend this year on loan in the Spanish second division with CF Reus. He’s already made an impact, scoring in a friendly this past weekend, so it seems like he’ll get valuable minutes in a competitive environment, which will only be good for his development. The right back won’t be defending Messi again this season (probably — never know with the Copa del Rey though) but the experience will only be a positive in his development.
Desevio Payne (Excelsior Rotterdam, Eredivisie)
Payne missed the entire second half of the season with an injury and has yet to resurface onto the scene for Excelsior. He still appears to be recovering following his injury woes, so there probably won’t be any news or minutes coming his way any time soon. We’ll follow along as always, but there certainly looks to be plenty more recovery ahead.
Kyle Scott (SC Telstar, on loan from Chelsea, Eerste Divisie)
After making his first-team debut for Chelsea in an FA Cup match last winter, Scott will get his first extended taste of senior football in the Eerste Divisie, playing with the same Telstar team that Novakovic shined with last year. It seems like a rational move for the 20-year-old, who isn’t too near the Chelsea first team but needs to start getting matches under his belt. It’s not the most glamorous of loans for a player who was reportedly on his way to the Championship last summer before instead being kept at Stamford Bridge by Antonio Conte, but Telstar should be able to provide Scott the experience he needs to move on to bigger and better things in the coming seasons.
Romain Gall (Malmo, Allsvenskan)
Gall, 23, was born in Paris but moved to the United States at the age of seven. He spent time in two MLS academies before moving back to Europe, but since arriving in Sweden in 2016, he’s done nothing but rise. He’s now landed at one of the biggest clubs in Sweden, Malmo, following a two-season stay at GIF Sundsvall, for whom he scored seven goals in just 13 appearances last season. He’s started one league game so far, but didn’t make it off the bench in either leg of their Champions League victory over Cluj of Romania. He did, however, appear as a substitute in another UCL first-leg tie on Tuesday, while Malmo drew 1-1 against MOL Vidi. Gall will hope to earn a few more minutes with the bright lights shining down and the even brighter ones of the group stage beckoning.
Brandon Austin (Tottenham, Premier League)
A 19-year-old goalkeeper, Austin is eligible to play for both the United States and England, and he has so far attracted interest from both sides. He has played for England more recently, however, so he could very well end up with the Three Lions rather than the Stars and Stripes. Still, until he makes that decision, he’s worth keeping an eye on. He’ll likely spend this season with Tottenham’s U-23s.
De la Torre has already represented the USMNT at the senior level, and he’s featured for Fulham’s senior side as well. However, it’s unclear whether the 20-year-old forward will see time this season as the Cottagers make the jump to the Premier League. He’ll begin the year in this section of the list, but he seems to be just on the outskirts of the Fulham first team and could work his way into it at some point this season.
Marlon Fossey (Fulham, Premier League)
While he’s impressed in preseason, Fossey is likely a bit further away from the Fulham squad than de la Torre. However, the 19-year-old fullback is winning admirers with the Cottagers and could get himself into the outfit for a cup match or two sooner rather than later.
Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United, Premier League) (Y)
Olosunde has solidified a role in Manchester United’s U-23 side, but he doesn’t seem any closer to joining Jose Mourinho’s first-team outfit than he did a year ago. The right back could find his way back stateside soon if rumors are to be believed, but it’s unlikely either way that he’ll see the pitch any time soon for United.
Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton Wanderers, Premier League)
Just 17, Otasowie has already spent time playing with Wolves’ U-23 side. The midfielder is unlikely to break through with the first team this season as they return to the Premier League, but he’s considered a top prospect and should get his chance in the next few seasons. Another year at U-23 level is probably in store, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a player who still has yet to turn 18.
Peter Stroud (West Ham United, Premier League)
Stroud, 16, just joined West Ham last week from the New York Red Bulls academy. It’s impossible to say much about his prospects yet, but it seems likely that the midfielder will begin his time in London with the Hammers’ U-18 side. A first-team debut is of course a ways away, but this is nonetheless a noteworthy move for a highly touted youngster.
Will Vint (Manchester United, Premier League)
Another name that will be unfamiliar to most readers of this site, Vint is a 16-year-old midfielder from Colorado who has spent portions of his youth in England, where his father worked as academy director for Everton. The younger Vint opted to sign with United over interest from Everton and Fulham, and it looks like he’ll start with the U-18s this season. Like Stroud, he’s far from a first-team appearance, but Vint is another talented young player at a top club.
Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal, Premier League) (Y)
Zelalem was, of course, the posterboy for American youth players in Europe, but his progress has been blighted by a serious knee injury which wiped away his entire 2017-18 season. The 21-year-old is finally healthy, and he’ll hope to impress new Arsenal manager Unai Emery while playing with the U-23s. It’s not inconceivable that Zelalem will leave the club before the end of the transfer window, although it seems just as likely that he’d be on the move next summer in search of first-team action after proving his fitness this term.
Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa, Championship)
The 17-year-old Vassilev made his Aston Villa debut during the preseason, and it’s easy to see why hopes are high for him in Birmingham. The attacking midfielder is an exciting player with quick feet and good technique. He’ll likely start the season with Villa’s U-18s, but a call-up to the U-23 side might be on the cards should he impress.
Chris Gloster (Hannover, Bundesliga)
An 18-year-old defender, Gloster signed with Hannover in March after going on a few trials with Bundesliga clubs. The U.S. U-20 international will start out with Hannover’s U-19 side, but he too could be in line for a jump into the reserves should he settle in seamlessly.
Zyen Jones (Schalke, Bundesliga)
The latest American at Schalke, Jones can’t even officially join the club until he turns 18 on August 25. The striker will likely link up with the U-19s at that point, although he could earn a place in the U-23s if all goes well.
Nick Taitague (Schalke, Bundesliga)
After spending last season hovering between the U-19 and U-23 teams, Taitague should make the permanent jump into the U-23 ranks this season in Gelsenkirchen. The 19-year-old midfielder is still working his way back to full fitness after an injury slowed down his 2017-18 season, so he may not feature for a little while, but he does appear fairly close to the edges of the Schalke first team.
Haji Wright (Schalke, Bundesliga)
Wright is likely a bit further away from the Schalke squad, and it’s unclear whether or not the 20-year-old forward will remain with the Royal Blues this season after a relatively unsuccessful loan at Sandhausen last year. If he stays with Schalke, he’ll probably fit in with the U-23 team, but a temporary move to a second-tier club — just a different one this time — seems like a prudent move as well.
Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha Berlin, Bundesliga)
The now-21-year-old Klinsmann responded well to criticism from Hertha’s goalkeeping coach last season, and he looks ready to challenge for a spot in the senior side this season. Klinsmann will likely play with the U-23s while serving as the No. 3 keeper for the first team, but he too could work his way further into the picture if he can impress when he gets the chance.
Chris Richards (Bayern Munich, on loan from FC Dallas) (Y)
Richards is a fascinating prospect right now. The 18-year-old is spending the remainder of 2018 on loan with Bayern Munich, and he has so far shined for the senior side while playing extended minutes on the club’s U.S. tour. He’s made such an impression, in fact, that Bayern sporting director Karl-Heinz Rummenigge discussed Richards as a depth option who could be the fourth or fifth center back on the Bayern depth chart this season. Assuming that’s not just hot air, the young defender could see some time for one of the world’s most storied clubs this season, and it’s already being reported that Bayern are exploring the possibility of purchasing Richards when his loan expires. His status will be a storyline to follow this fall.
Isaiah Young (Werder Bremen, Bundesliga)
Young’s 2018-19 season has gotten off to an inconspicuous start as the forward saw a red card in Bremen’s U-23 team’s season opener. The 20-year-old forward from New Jersey will likely spend the majority of this season with the reserve side.
Lennard Maloney (Union Berlin, 2. Bundesliga)
Born in Germany to an American father and a German mother, Maloney played his first senior game in the spring for Union Berlin and immediately attracted the eye of the United States setup, which lured him away from Germany’s and twice capped the defender at under-20 level this summer. He’s only made that one league appearance, but the 18-year-old could work his way into the defensive rotation at some point this season.
Brady Scott (FC Koln, 2. Bundesliga)
Mukwelle Akale (Villarreal, La Liga)
Akale, a 21-year-old winger, spent most of last season with Villarreal’s C team, but he appears to have made the jump into the B squad in the offseason. He should have every chance to stick there, although a senior debut is still off in the distance.
Ben Lederman (Gent, Jupiler League)
Many have heard Lederman’s story. After moving to Barcelona to join La Masia at the age of 12, Lederman found himself at the center of controversy when FIFA investigated Barcelona for a breach of international transfer rules regarding youth players. Lederman was forced to train on his own and wasn’t allowed to play in games for an extended period of time, but that’s all in the past. The now-18-year-old has joined Belgian side Gent, where he’ll likely start with the reserves but for whom he could get into the squad sooner rather than later.
Juan Pablo Torres (Sporting Lokeren, Jupiler League)
A 19-year-old midfielder from Georgia, Torres moved to Lokeren in the Jupiler League and played mostly for the youth teams, although he did appear in matchday squads somewhat regularly. Whether he’s able to make the step into the 18-man roster on a consistent basis this season remains to be seen.
Joshua Perez (Fiorentina, Serie A)
The last name on our list may not be here for long. Perez, a 20-year-old forward who played in one Serie A game for Fiorentina in 2016, is reportedly on his way to MLS newcomers LAFC after spending last season on loan in the third tier of Italian football. It would be a positive move for Perez if he’s able to get regular minutes and develop as a player, but a move away from Europe is likely a step away from the national team spotlight. Should he make the move, Perez will hope it’s one step back in exchange for two in the other direction.