Still 2.5 months from the next Der Klassiker (April 6 at the Allianz Arena), Bayern has to navigate a title fight without the chance to directly affect its rivals. Both clubs face Premier League opposition in the Champions League — Bayern with Liverpool, BVB v. Spurs — and neither has a particularly easy start to 2019. Other storylines to watch:
How much will Christian Pulisic’s transfer further affect his playing time? Whether or not Pulisic leaves for Chelsea as a Bundesliga champion is one thing, but many American eyes will be trained upon how often he’s deployed by Lucien Favre at Borussia Dortmund.
Let’s be clear on one thing: Favre has rotated his forwards heavily between Champions League and the Bundesliga. Jadon Sancho has played 1025 minutes, Jacob Bruun Larsen 830, Maximilian Philipp 515, Paco Alcacer 503, and Pulisic 483. Numbers two through eight on the playing time scale are defenders or midfielders (Marco Reus is first with 1483).
Amongst BVB attackers in the Champions League, however, only Reus has played more than Pulisic’s 339 minutes. And while Pulisic played 1 and 2 minutes in consecutive Bundesliga matches, he went 90 against Monaco in the UCL match separating those sub spots.
In other words, this isn’t as much of a quagmire as some Americans would lead you to believe. Yes, ex-Man City man Jadon Sancho has stolen Pulisic’s wonder boy numbers and title, but the kid isn’t being left in the cold.
What about the rest of the Americans (and a Canadian)? Almost as many eyes will be on Tyler Adams as the New York Red Bulls product takes the next step at RB Leipzig. FC Dallas’ Chris Richards is also now with Bayern Munich, while Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies begins his much-anticipated time with Bayern.
John Brooks of Wolfsburg is the top-rated American player in the top flight this season via WhoScored.com, one of eight Yanks to take the field.
How low will Schalke finish? A dreadful start to the season has last season’s No. 2 team, Schalke, sitting four points above the relegation playoff spot, nine back of the last Europa League spot, and 13 behind the Top Four.
Schalke’s other route to Europe include the DFB-Pokal, where they next face Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Round of 16, and winning the Champions League (Manchester City is their next opponent).
Will Robert Lewandowski defend his Golden Boot? The Bayern Munich star is chasing his fourth time leading the league in goals since 2013-14, his final year at Dortmund. Here are the current leaders:
The American teenager couldn’t quite break into the PSG strike corps, with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani chewing up minutes and the precious few remaining sprinkled between 19-year-old Moussa Diaby (2G-5A in 536 minutes) and 21-year-old Christopher Nkunku (1G-1A in 487 minutes, mostly in midfield).
There’s zero shame in that, and Neymar is tipping Weah to not just play well in Glasgow, but to star for the Scottish leaders. From The Scottish Daily Record:
“He has the talent, we know that, but also he has a great attitude. From the first day I have met him he has wanted to learn off the players who have already won the major trophies, from the players who have already achieved big things in the game.
“He is a fun guy to be around – but also he is very humble and that is what you want to see from a young player. It’s what a coach wants to see because it means they want to learn.”
Neymar went on to say Weah has the same demeanor the Brazilian possessed as a 18-year-old.
Weah has a goal in eight caps for the USMNT, and two goals in six senior appearances for PSG.
Dion Pereira, 19, made a pair of Premier League appearances for Watford at the end of the 2016-17 season, and Atlanta is betting that a move across the Atlantic will transform him into its next prized young asset.
The Watford-born forward scored 13 goals in PL2 last season.
Going the other way, from MLS to Scotland, is DC United and Wake Forest product Ian Harkes.
The son of longtime USMNT captain John, Ian Harkes is 23 and played 37 times with four goals and two assists for the Black-and-Red last season.
Harkes is headed to Dundee United, who sits third in the Scottish Championship and is just three points back of table-leading Ross County.
Adams played the first 45 minutes of the match as fourth-place RBL prepares for Borussia Dortmund in a big table tilt on Saturday, hoping to close to within eight points of the leaders.
He’s made a positive impression in Leipzig, and manager Ralf Rangnick has said the 19-year-old is a player for now and later.
Still, for Adams to be thrown right into the frying pan for a match against the leaders would show a serious (and wonderful) commitment from the Bundesliga club, who has regularly deployed Kevin Kampl and Diego Demme at defensive midfielder.
It’s probably safe to assume that, squad fitness aside, it takes some time for him to get the call for huge RBL matches. USMNT will take quite a bit of solace if it happens right away.
Twitter feed @USMNTonly did us all a real solid by putting Adams’ meaningful moments from the friendly into one video, and also including his post-match interview.