Champions League: Record 10 USMNT players make group stage rosters
No fewer than 10 members of the US men's national team are on the list of teams competing in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League this fall. This broke the previous record of six.
The European Football Association on Thursday published the squad lists for each of the 32 teams that have qualified for the 2020-21 edition of the world's most prestigious club competition. The first round of the tournament kicks off across the continent later this month.
The 10 Americans who made the cut are Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Ethan Horvath (Club Bruges), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Alex Mendez (Ajax) and Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich) and Zack Steffen (Manchester City).
Aside from the elite clubs that many of them represent - Bayern are the current defending champions while Barca, Chelsea City, Dortmund and Juve all made deep runs last season - what makes the US cohort special is its youth. The goalkeepers Horvath and Steffen are the oldest of the 10; both are 25 years old. The other eight are all 22 or younger.
Only 24 Americans have ever played in a Champions League game. Four - Adams, Dest, Pulisic, and Reyna - played last season. Adams scored the goal that sent Leipzig to the semi-finals, and Reyna, at 17 years old, was the youngest American to appear in the tournament earlier this year. Dest played for Dutch club Ajax in the group stage while Pulisic helped his team advance to the round of 16.
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 5: Christian Pulisic of Chelsea during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Chelsea FC and AFC Ajax at Stamford Bridge on November 5, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images)
At the age of 22, Pulisic is already a veteran of the Champions League, having played 26 games in four seasons with the Blues and the former Dortmund club. Pulisic's goal against Benfica brought BVB to the quarter-finals in 2017.
McKennie joined Juve, led by Cristiano Ronaldo, in August. The midfielder experienced the competition in 2018 and played six games with the German club Schalke. McKennie could face compatriots Dest and Konrad twice this fall, with the home game between Juventus and Lionel Messi's Barcelona matchup being the undisputed highlight of last week's draw.
Horvath did not allow a goal in the three group stage games in which he played for Bruges in 2018. He supported former Liverpool setback Simon Mignolet last season and is expected to do so again this year. Mendez, Richards and Steffen will make their Champions League debut this season.
The previous high of six Americans in the Champions League list came in 2004-05 when DaMarcus Beasley, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, Robbie Russell and Jonathan Spector were featured.
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