Basketball, American Football and Baseball. All sports that you would associate with the United States of America and all sports that they dominate in. However, one day, you might be able to add football to that list. Whilst past success has been something that has evaded the country, they are now bringing through a generation of players who look like they could signal a change in fortunes. Although they’ve had some decent established players who have competed at a high level before, they can now boast a massively exciting host of young prospects who are earning their stripes all over Europe.
One place that you would most definitely associate with football is Barcelona. Having dominated European football for a number of years, they currently find themselves in somewhat of a lull, with fans and players alike not happy. Despite this, they still boast an absolute embarrassment of riches and a squad full of potential. Part of this potential are two young Americans: Sergino Dest and Konrad De La Fuente. The latter is not such a well known name yet but that’s not to say he isn’t an exciting prospect. De La Fuente is a 19-year-old winger who has only represented Barca B so far but has managed to get a go in the full squad for a friendly earlier this year. He was granted the last 30 minutes of the fixture against fellow Spanish side Girona and certainly caught the eye.
The La Masia academy has produced a lot of top players over the years and De La Fuente looks set to become the next on the long list, with Barca manager Ronald Koeman highlighting De La Fuente in particular for praise after the friendly. De La Fuente has represented the USA at multiple youth levels but just recently made his full international debut for the USA against Wales and will no doubt be looking to add to that in future international breaks and tournaments. A rapid winger, De La Fuente also has the incredible technical ability that you would associate with a La Masia graduate, certainly one to keep an eye on.
Barcelona’s other young American is slightly more well known after previously impressing at Ajax before completing a move to the Catalonians this year. Actually born in the Netherlands, Sergino Dest last year decided to represent the USA after playing for them at multiple youth levels and eventually making his full debut for the senior side. Dest holds the record for being the first American to represent Barcelona in La Liga and also the first in the Champions League too.
The right-back featured heavily for Ajax last term, including in the Champions League and seems to be yet another promising player to come out of the city, evidenced in the faith shown by Barcelona to part with over €20m for his signature. The Catalan club fought off strong interest from Bayern Munich for Dest and if he continues on this trajectory, he may well end up finding himself as one of the best full backs in Europe in the coming years.
Another young American star who has been making headlines recently is Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna. The son of former Man City midfielder Claudio Reyna, he finds himself in a domestic squad that is also littered with exciting prospects. Having made his Bundesliga debut for Dortmund in January of this year, Reyna has gone from strength to strength. The American has only just turned 18 and can already boast a whole host of appearances for the German side as well as a full debut for the American national team.
At 6 foot 1, Reyna is surprisingly nimble as an attacking midfielder and has shown so much promise in his early career, managing to record 3 assists in the same game recently. Standing out in a squad so full of not just established talent but also young up-and-comers is no mean feat and Reyna looks set to add some much needed creative spark to his national side too.
Also plying his trade in Germany right now is RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams. Adams caught the eye towards the back end of last season after his goal against Atletico Madrid sent the German side through to the semi finals of the Champions League.
A really strong and imposing central midfielder, Adams covers so much ground and is excellent at breaking up the play. The midfielder is an aggressive presser and his ability to dispossess the opponent so regularly is a real asset to any team he’s a part of. When you add his fantastic passing range to this mix, you’ll see that both RB Leipzig and the USA have a real player on their hands here and if he can continue to develop as he is, then his defensive attributes might be the perfect combination to Reyna’s attacking talent in that American midfield.
Finally, back in Spain, we have a player who has hit the ground running this season for Valencia, Yunus Musah. Having only made his debut for Valencia in September, Musah has really started the season on fire. His performances have caught many an eye in Spain and it’s no wonder that this early season form led to a call up to the full international side recently.
Primarily a winger, Musah’s blistering pace and direct style of play make him a nightmare to play against. Still only 17 years of age, Musah set the record earlier this month as the youngest non-Spanish player to score for Valencia, smashing Lee Kang-In’s previous one. Even considered young amongst this list of his compatriots, Musah looks to have a very bright career ahead of him.
Clearly the USA aren’t likely to compete for any major titles for a while yet, but there is absolutely no denying that when it comes to young talent, this squad has all the potential to be a golden generation for the country. I only picked a handful of players here, but there are plenty more who deserve notable mentions such as: Josh Sargent, Zack Steffen, Antonee Robinson, Weston Mckennie, Timothy Weah, Chris Richards and of course Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic. When you add all of those to the mix, you’ll see a really strong squad, so all that’s left is for a manager and coaching team to manage to get the best out of these players for the big tournaments.
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