Bundesliga: State of play, USMNT players to watch

Bundesliga return date
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The German Bundesliga return date in May is nearly set as the 2019-20 season will resume in the next few weeks.

In the words of coach Ted Lasso: keep calm… and get fired up.

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There is so much to look forward to when the top two tiers in German soccer return, with the Bundesliga home to many of the top USMNT youngsters, plus there is an enthralling title race, battle for European qualification and a scrap against relegation.

With all of that in mind, here’s a primer so you’re ready with the Bundesliga return date later this month.


American players to watch

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There are a plethora of young American players scattered across Germany’s top two tiers, so USMNT fans will have a field day checking in on all of them. Here’s a look at who they are, where they are playing and how 2019-20 has been for them so far.

Bundesliga

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig – Injuries have disrupted his season but when he has played at right back or in midfield for Leipzig he’s looked composed and he has been missed when he’s out. Primed to play a big role as Leipzig are in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals and in the Bundesliga title race.

Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund – What a first few months of 2020 it was for Reyna, as the teenager scored a stunning goal and burst onto the scene at Dortmund. Reyna, 17, has the potential to emulate Christian Pulisic’s success for the Black and Yellow.

Weston McKennie, Schalke – Has been hit by injuries this season but McKennie is a key utility player in David Wagner’s Schalke side. They are battling for a top six finish and Europa League qualification and are back to being one of the big boys in the Bundesliga. McKennie, 21, is having his best season to date.

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – Battling with Schalke for sixth place are Wolfsburg and USMNT center back Brooks is finally back fit and playing a dominant role. If he can stay fit for the next few seasons he will be a key man for club and country.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen – His goals will be key in Werder’s relegation battle but Sargent has had a tough season. Granted he hasn’t been getting much support but he’s return of three goals is a little below what he would expect. Still just 20 years old.

Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich* – Okay, he’s Canadian, but we’ve all seen him from his MLS days with the Vancouver Whitecaps and wished him well. Signed a new long-term contract with Bayern during the suspension and has burst onto the scene this season as a left back/left wing back. Davies is still just 19 years old. Wow.

Timothy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt – A utility player as Eintracht have struggled in the Bundesliga but continue to do well in the Europa League season after season. Chandler has been a regular and scored four goals this season. Not bad at all, Timmy.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach – Bit-part player and now a veteran on this ‘Gladbach squad, Johnson has made a handful of appearances as they battle for Champions League qualification and maybe, just maybe, can launch a late title push.

Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf – Suffered an injury which will probably keep him out for the rest of the season. On loan from Man City and it will be intriguing to see what next season holds for the USMNT’s starting goalkeeper.

Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf – A constant in Fortuna’s midfield, which earned him some recent recalls with the USMNT. Smooth holding midfielder.

2. Bundesliga

Bobby Wood, Hamburg
Julian Green, Greuther Furth
Sebastian Soto, Hannover 96
Timothy Tillman, Greuther Furth
Marc Heider, Osnabruck
Kevin Lankford, St Pauli


Enthralling title battle

Bundesliga
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Bayern Munich are top but are just four points ahead of Borussia Dortmund and five points ahead of RB Leipzig, while Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen are also in touching distance. Bayern will be favorites to clinch the title but they have to play away at Dortmund and Levrkusen as well as host ‘Gladbach.

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This will be very interesting indeed. Dortmund now have Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho and Gio Reyna ripping it up together in attack and although Bayern improved drastically in recent months, perhaps the break came at a bad time for Hansi Flick’s side. Beware of RB Leipzig too, who have hummed along nicely all season long.


Epic tussle for Champions League, Europa League

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Given there is an epic title battle about to take place, there is an equally epic scramble for European qualification. The top four in Germany qualify automatically for the UEFA Champions League group stage and that means one of the five teams mentioned above as title contenders will miss out. But looking even further down the league, Schalke sit in sixth place but are just five points above Cologne in 10th as there is an incredibly tight battle for the Europa League. Schalke sit one point ahead of Wolfsburg and Freiburg and two ahead of Hoffenheim in 9th.


Relegation battle isn’t that boring either…

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Okay, so Paderborn and Werder Bremen look a little doomed but they are within touching distance of the relegation playoffs spot, which Fortuna Dusseldorf currently occupy. Teams will be desperate to stay in the Bundesliga given the current situation and if you look down to the 2. Bundesliga, two giants are battling for automatic qualification and to avoid the lottery of the relegation playoffs. Arminia Bielefeld are six points clear at the top of the second division but Stuttgart and Hamburg are separated by just one point with the former in second place and in possession of the automatic spot.