Haji Wright

AP

VIDEO: US youngsters Wright, McKennie combine for Schalke goal

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Wednesday was a big day for USMNT talent in Germany’s top-flight.

Haji Wright scored his first goal for Bundesliga side Schalke, and his countryman Weston McKennie grabbed the assist.

Right on half time Wright flicked home from close range after McKennie had nodded a header from a corner into his path. The goal made it Schalke 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen at half time.

Wright, 20, has broken into Schalke’s first team this season to join McKennie, also 20, as a regular.

The good times for young American players in the Bundesliga keep on arriving, as Josh Sargent jumped off the bench for Werder Bremen and scored with his first-ever touch in the Bundesliga earlier this month.

Take a look at the goal below.


Bundesliga wrap: Gnabry drives Bayern; American makes 1st Bundesliga start

Carmen Jaspersen/dpa via AP
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Borussia Dortmund continued its winning ways, while Niko Kovac and Bayern Munich may finally be pulling it all together for a worthwhile chase for the Bundesliga title.

[ RECAP: Saints 2-2 Man Utd ]


Hoffenheim 1-1 Schalke

Saturday will go down as an unforgettable one for California native Haji Wright, as the 20-year-old American center forward made his first Bundesliga start (a week after coming off the bench for his first senior appearance).

Wright played 70 minutes, leaving the match one minute after countryman Weston McKennie entered as a sub. Wright’s was industrious on the day but only managed 18 touches and 4-for-4 passing to go with his mileage up top.

As for Schalke, it answered in-form Andrej Kramaric‘s 59th minute goal with Nabil Bentaleb‘s 73rd minute marker to earn a point and move 11th.

Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Freiburg

Speaking of Americans, the league-leading hosts’ Christian Pulisic missed this one with a calf injury. No problem, really, as Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer scored to move the table lead to seven points before second-place Gladbach plays Sunday.

Bayern Munich 2-1 Werder Bremen
The serial champions are third for the time-being following a Serge Gnabry double at the Allianz Arena.

Elsewhere
Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-1 Mainz — Friday
Stuttgart 1-0 Augsburg
Hannover 96 0-2 Hertha Berlin
RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Wolfsburg — Noon ET Sunday
Nurnberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen — 2:30 p.m. ET Monday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 13 10 3 0 37 13 24 6-1-0 4-2-0 33
 Mönchengladbach 12 8 2 2 30 14 16 6-0-0 2-2-2 26
 Bayern Munich 13 7 3 3 25 18 7 2-3-1 5-0-2 24
 Eintracht Frankfurt 12 7 2 3 29 14 15 3-1-1 4-1-2 23
 RB Leipzig 12 6 4 2 22 10 12 4-2-0 2-2-2 22
 1899 Hoffenheim 13 6 3 4 28 19 9 3-2-2 3-1-2 21
 Hertha BSC Berlin 13 5 5 3 21 20 1 3-2-1 2-3-2 20
 Werder Bremen 13 5 3 5 21 22 -1 2-2-3 3-1-2 18
 FSV Mainz 05 13 5 3 5 12 14 -2 3-2-2 2-1-3 18
 VfL Wolfsburg 12 4 3 5 16 17 -1 2-2-3 2-1-2 15
 FC Schalke 04 13 4 2 7 14 18 -4 3-0-3 1-2-4 14
 Bayer Leverkusen 12 4 2 6 18 24 -6 2-1-3 2-1-3 14
 SC Freiburg 13 3 5 5 16 22 -6 2-3-2 1-2-3 14
 FC Augsburg 13 3 4 6 20 22 -2 1-3-2 2-1-4 13
 VfB Stuttgart 13 3 2 8 9 26 -17 2-1-3 1-1-5 11
 1. FC Nürnberg 12 2 4 6 13 29 -16 2-2-2 0-2-4 10
 Hannover 96 13 2 3 8 15 28 -13 2-1-3 0-2-5 9
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 13 2 3 8 13 29 -16 2-0-5 0-3-3 9

Bundesliga wrap: Bayern falls, Eintracht rises, USMNT’s Wright debuts

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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Goals, goals, goals: The Bundesliga returned from international break with a fury, with only 1-0 in the seven matches staged Friday and Saturday.

[ MORE: Spurs thump Chelsea ]

The fact that a 2-1 win from leaders Borussia Dortmund gets pushed down to the “Elsewhere” portion of our wrap-up shows you the nutty nature of the day.

Bayern Munich 3-3 Fortuna Dusseldorf

Bayern is now nine points off of first place BVB following a Dodi Lukebakio-inspired loss at the Allianz Arena.

Thomas Muller scored twice as Bayern held 2-0 and 3-1 leads, the latter with just over a half-hour to play.

But Lukebakio finished off his hat trick with goals in the 77th minute and third minute of stoppage time to send Bayern’s winless league run to three matches.

Augsburg 1-3 Eintracht Frankfurt

There’s a new second place side, at least until Sunday, as Eintracht built a three-goal lead starting with a first minute goal from Canadian midfielder Jonathan De Guzman. Star strikers Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic also scored in the win.

Schalke 5-2 Nurnberg

It was 2-1 to the hosts when Nurnberg went down a man through Robery Bauer’s second yellow card. Schalke took further control through Guido Burgstaller, and scored twice in the final 10 minutes to salt away a fourth win of the season.

American winger Haji Wright made his Schalke senior debut in the 88th minute, getting three touches and completing both of his passes in the cameo. The 20-year-old has six goals and three assists for Schalke II, earning his first spot in a match day 18 since 2017.

Elsewhere
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Stuttgart — Friday
Mainz 1-2 Borussia Dortmund

Wolfsburg 1-0 RB Leipzig
Hertha Berlin 3-3 Hoffenheim
Freiburg vs. Werder Bremen — 
9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Hannover 96 — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 12 9 3 0 35 13 22 5-1-0 4-2-0 30
 Eintracht Frankfurt 12 7 2 3 29 14 15 3-1-1 4-1-2 23
 Mönchengladbach 11 7 2 2 26 13 13 5-0-0 2-2-2 23
 RB Leipzig 12 6 4 2 22 10 12 4-2-0 2-2-2 22
 Bayern Munich 12 6 3 3 23 17 6 2-3-1 4-0-2 21
 1899 Hoffenheim 12 6 2 4 27 18 9 3-1-2 3-1-2 20
 Werder Bremen 11 5 2 4 19 19 0 2-2-2 3-0-2 17
 Hertha BSC Berlin 12 4 5 3 19 20 -1 3-2-1 1-3-2 17
 VfL Wolfsburg 12 4 3 5 16 17 -1 2-2-3 2-1-2 15
 FSV Mainz 05 12 4 3 5 11 14 -3 3-2-2 1-1-3 15
 Bayer Leverkusen 12 4 2 6 18 24 -6 2-1-3 2-1-3 14
 FC Augsburg 12 3 4 5 20 21 -1 1-3-2 2-1-3 13
 SC Freiburg 11 3 4 4 15 19 -4 2-2-2 1-2-2 13
 FC Schalke 04 12 4 1 7 13 17 -4 3-0-3 1-1-4 13
 1. FC Nürnberg 12 2 4 6 13 29 -16 2-2-2 0-2-4 10
 Hannover 96 11 2 3 6 14 22 -8 2-1-2 0-2-4 9
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 12 2 3 7 13 28 -15 2-0-4 0-3-3 9
 VfB Stuttgart 12 2 2 8 8 26 -18 1-1-3 1-1-5 8

VIDEO: American teen Wright scores first 2.Bundesliga goal

Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images
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For all the talk about Schalke’s 18-year-old American wunderkind, Weston McKennie, it’s easy to forget that three young Yanks signed for the Bundesliga side.

One of them, Haji Wright, scored four goals in a preseason match before being loaned out to Sandhausen in 2.Bundesliga.

Ex-New York Cosmos striker Wright, 19, came off the bench for Sandhausen in its league opener Saturday, and didn’t wilt when given a clear scoring chance alone in the 18.

[ MORE: Bundesliga preview with Howedes, Nastasic ]

Wright has scored 31 goals at the U.S. youth national team level, and Bruce Arena will be quite familiar with him given a four-year stint with the LA Galaxy Academy.

Fellow American striker Andrew Wooten is on the books at Sandhausen, but the veteran was not in the 18.

Here’s video, found by American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta:

America’s latest Bundesliga teenager eyes the future

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As recently as Wednesday, Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie joined his American teammate Nick Taitague and fellow Yank teenager Christian Pulisic for an afternoon of FIFA at Pulisic’s place in Gelsenkirchen.

How long those sort of friendly meetings will endure is up for discussion, because one of the world’s best rivalries has two young American friends on either side.

McKennie is a whopping 21 days older than Borussia Dortmund’s Pulisic, and will turn 19 on August 28. He’s also following in the footsteps of Pulisic as a teenage member of the Revierderby.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League picks ]

“When we hang out it doesn’t come up, but we know in the back of our heads that when that game comes around we’ll have to hit pause on our friendship,” McKennie told ProSoccerTalk. “After that game we’ll see how it goes, but I’m sure it’ll be the same.”

The friendship of McKennie, Pulisic, Taitague, and Haji Wright — Wright has left Schalke for a loan stint at Sandhausen in 2.Bundesliga — has otherwise been a boon to the American quartet, and it isn’t wild to consider the unit’s formative days in Germany as a harbinger of what’s to come for the United States men’s national team.

McKennie, 18, could be a massive part of American soccer in the future. Rated the 13th best U-20 prospect in the Bundesliga, the Texas-born midfielder has drawn glowing reviews from new manager Domenico Tedesco, who lauded the player’s “super pressing game” in a senior debut earlier this week, and veterans Benedikt Howedes and Matija Nastasic only had good things to say in conversations with PST this week.

“In the defensive midfield he already operates very mature,” said Howedes, the longtime Schalke man who won the 2014 World Cup with Germany. “He works hard all the time and showed in pre-season that he can help us. If he develops like he has done until now, the team will be pleased with him. Also, he is clever in his head and a really funny guy.”

Nastasic, who won the Premier League with Manchester City in 2013-14, is very pleased with McKennie’s two-way game.

[ MORE: Thursday’s transfer rumor roundup | Wednesday | Tuesday ]

“He’s very very good player in the middle because he can go up front and finish actions but also in defense he’s very good,” Nastasic said. “For me, he’s a box-to-box player who can run and is strong. He can be very very good.”

And here’s Nabil Bentaleb, just 22:

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Both players stressed patience with McKennie and a Schalke squad that has youthful talent in bunches. In addition to the American teenager, there’s Swiss sensation Breel Embolo, Algerian midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, and German trio Max Meyer, Leon Goretzka, and Fabian Reese.

In Meyer and Goretzka, McKennie has teammates who boast more than 210 league appearances despite a combined age of 43. Both won silver medals at the 2016 Olympics and Goretkza won the Silver Boot and Bronze Ball as Germany won the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

The fact that these players surround McKennie, Schalke’s youngest First Teamer, and have done so much at their ages is not lost on the American midfielder.

“Being around guys who’ve accomplished so much at a young age, even with Christian being younger than me and achieving so much and setting the way over here, you’re surrounding yourself with people who are only going to make you better,” McKennie said.

“Knowing ‘This kid’s only one year older than me. This kid’s only two years older than me,’ and seeing the way they carry themselves and the amount of experience they’ve had, it rubs off on you.”

And it’s not just the young guys bringing the energy as Schalke prepares for its Bundesliga opener on Saturday against Red Bull Leipzig.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Brooks out 3 months for Wolfsburg ]

“The spirit, if you could be in the locker room, it’s amazing,” McKennie said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are. The older guys like Naldo and Coke still joke around with young guys. Me being the youngest I get a little bit more than everyone else.”

As for his American hopes, McKennie has spoken of his hopes to get into Bruce Arena’s USMNT fold. He’s hopeful for a call into a friendly camp in the next year, and harbors long shot hopes for a spot on a potential World Cup roster.

Playing an important position in one of the world’s top leagues at age 18 won’t hurt that, though minutes will certainly be difficult to come by this season given Schalke has a rare campaign outside of both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League.

And it may not surprise then when asked to target his role as a potential international, he hopes to grow into a player who’d be described as a mix of two of the United States’ all-time best at that position (one who’s starred at Schalke).

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“I’d kinda say Jermaine Jones if you had to choose a national team player, for the stuff that he does and maybe Michael Bradley, one of those players who is calm on the ball and can play that long ball, the one that is there at the right moments.” McKennie said, though at his age he obviously hasn’t seen a wide variety of USMNT center mids.

“Jermaine in my eyes is one of those guys who gets stuck in no matter what. He goes with all he has, and does the dirty work. That’s kinda how I picture myself.”

All of that isn’t to put the cart before the horse. McKennie is very clear in answering any questions about his future with measured responses. He has a lot of work to do to continue his rise into Schalke’s set-up.

[ MORE: Costa — “I must return to Atletico Madrid” ]

For now, he’ll keep doing what he’s doing, working as hard as possible to maintain a spot in Tedesco’s mix and growing alongside Taitague and Wright, and across the pitch from Pulisic, even as his BVB buddy makes it a bit harder to go out on the town.

“In his area and even in Gelsenkirchen because we’re rivals, he’s noticeable, but he’s not a player who tries to be noticed,” McKennie said. “There are players who try to be noticed, but he’s not. He’s not gonna say no to taking a photo, but even if he’s having a bad day he finds a way to put on a smile. He’s younger than me and I can still look up to him.”

That is until they hopefully hit the same grass for one of the game’s best matches.