Christian Pulisic looks on before a free kick against the Curacao at the CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals match on June 30, 2019 in Philadelphia, Penn.
With the way he finished the 2019-20 English Premier League season, Christian Pulisic might not mind having an abbreviated offseason.
A three-month midseason pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant Pulisic and his Chelsea teammates had just a five-week offseason before the 2020-21 season starts this weekend.
During that return to play, though, few were hotter than Pulisic, who over the course of nine games scored four goals and added four assists while stretching defenses across the league. Though his season ended in the FA Cup final, where he scored his 11th goal of the season but then went down with a hamstring injury, Pulisic is reportedly available for Monday’s opener.
The west London club clearly has high hopes for the 21-year-old winger, and earlier this week the Pennsylvania native assumed Chelsea’s No. 10 jersey.
While Pulisic is setting a new standard for Americans abroad, he’s hardly the only talented young U.S. player getting ready for the start of the European seasons.
France’s Ligue 1 is already underway, while the Premier League and Spain’s La Liga kick off Saturday. The German Bundesliga starts Sept. 18, with Italy’s Serie A following one day later. These seasons also lead into the start of 2022 World Cup qualifying, where the USMNT will look to bounce back after missing the tournament in 2018.
Here are nine more young U.S. players who are looking to take the next step in 2020-21.
Antonee Robinson, Fulham (Premier League)
Robinson emerged last year as one of the top left backs of the Championship, one level below the Premier League. In January he appeared to have one foot out the door from Wigan Athletic, with Italian giants AC Milan ready to bring him aboard. However, Milan’s doctors detected an irregular heartbeat, and though it turned out to be a false alarm, it was enough to scuttle the deal. The 23-year-old instead will play Premier League soccer with newly promoted Fulham (and U.S. teammate Tim Ream) after signing a deal with the London club in August.
Zack Steffen, Manchester City (Premier League)
After signing with the Citizens last summer, the first-choice U.S. goalie spent the 2019-20 season on loan with Fortuna Dusseldorf of the German Bundesliga. This season he will get his first run wearing sky blue as the No. 2 goalkeeper in Manchester. Steffen, 25, previously starred for the Columbus Crew in MLS, where he was Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018.
Weston McKennie, Juventus (Serie A)
After becoming a regular starter in the midfield for Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga, McKennie made a blockbuster move this summer to Juventus, the nine-time defending champions of Italy, on a loan deal. The 22-year-old Texan is the first American to play for Juventus, and would be just the sixth to play in Serie A. McKennie officially has a one-year deal with the iconic Italian club, but with strong play could make the move permanent.
Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (Bundesliga)
The 21-year-old Adams scored just one goal for Leipzig last season, but it was a massive one. His 88th minute winner against Atletico Madrid on Aug. 13 fired Leipzig into the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in club history. In his third season in Germany, Adams will look to establish himself in the first team lineup, either at his preferred midfield position or as a right back, where he’s sometimes played for club and country.
Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga)
The 17-year-old wunderkind and son of U.S. legend Claudio Reyna opened plenty of eyes in the soccer world in 2020. In January he became the youngest American to play in the Bundesliga, breaking the record set by former Dortmund player Pulisic. In February Reyna became the youngest player to score a German Cup goal. Then the same month he became the youngest American to play in the Champions League.
Chris Richards, Bayern Munich (Bundesliga)
It’s tough to crack the lineup of the champions of Europe, but the 20-year-old defender will no doubt try. Richards got most of his playing time in 2019-20 with Bayern’s third-division team, making 30 appearances and scoring four goals, but he did make one appearance with the big club in June.
Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Bundesliga)
Sargent has been part of the future for Bremen ever since he scored a goal on his first touch in December 2018. A long-term contract extension followed in February 2019, and he has since established himself as a regular at forward. The 20-year-old has shown a knack for goals for country as well, scoring five in 12 caps.
Timothy Weah, Lille (Ligue 1)
Injuries limited Weah to just three appearances in 2019-20, but the talented forward has already made his debut in 2020-21. The 20-year-old son of former Ballon d’Or winner George Weah, he has shown signs of great promise but is still looking to make an impact in European soccer. When last healthy, Weah scored three goals in 13 matches on a 2018-19 loan to Celtic.
Sergiño Dest, Ajax (Eredivisie)
Dest was a key “signing” for the national team last year, officially choosing the United States over the Netherlands, where he was born. Dest had represented the U.S. on a youth level and could become a fixture on the senior national team’s backline for years to come. In the meantime, the 19-year-old is a key player for Ajax, having played in 20 league games for the Dutch powerhouse last year.