Since its inception in 1962, the Bundesliga has rapidly become one of the top leagues in the world, and as such, players from all over have flocked to play their trades in Germany.
American and Canadian players are the latest to join this as they look to improve their own skill sets in a more competitive environment, and in many cases, have the chance to play in big tournaments such as the Europa League or the Champions League.
So, it's not surprising that many of the teams currently playing in the top flight this season - and quite a few in the 2.Bundesliga as well - have American (and a few Canadian) players within their ranks.
Without further ado, here's a look at some of the North American players who have opted to play their football in Germany as opposed to MLS, which has teams both in the United States and Canada.
NOTE: This list will be grouped by team.
Currently, die Roten only have one North American-based player featuring in their first team: Canadian starlet Alphonso Davies. Born in Ghana, the 19-year-old moved to Canada at the age of five and has set numerous records with the Canadian national team, including becoming the youngest to appear, the youngest to score, and being the first player born in the 2000s to appear at an international tournament (during the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup).
So far this season, Davies has made 30 appearances across all competitions, and has been directly involved in five goals (one goal, four assists).
Dortmund's North American representative is none other than Giovanni "Gio" Reyna. If the last name sounds familiar, well, it's because he is the son of USMNT legend Claudio Reyna. And the 17-year-old has started his professional life off with a bang. In January 2020, he became the youngest American to feature in the Bundesliga, thus breaking the record set by Christian Pulisic (who, ironically, also played for Dortmund).
A month later, he scored for die Schwarzgelben in the DFB-Pokal, which makes him the youngest goal-scorer in the tournament's history. Later that same month, he assisted fellow youngster Erling Haaland's goal against PSG - which makes him the youngest American to both feature and assist in a Champions League match. Ever.
He was set to feature in the highly anticipated Ruhr Derby clash against Schalke last weekend - which would have been his first Bundesliga start of the season - but suffered an injury during the warm-up. In total, he has made 11 appearances in all competitions (eight in the Bundesliga), and has scored one goal.
Veteran Fabian Johnson may play for the USMNT, but he was actually born and raised in Germany. In fact, the 32-year-old, who primarily plays as a defender but can also be deployed as a midfielder, has spent his entire career featuring in the Bundesliga, and has been at Borussia Mönchengladbach since 2014, where he has consistently been an integral part of the team's starting XI.
However, this season has seen his appearances dramatically limited due to injury, but having seemingly put that behind him, he will naturally want to get back to action quickly as Gladbach have had a very impressive campaign so far. They are well in contention for a Champions League spot as they find themselves in third spot, ahead of Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen in a very tight race.
Unfortunately, it has been a disappointing sophomore season at Leipzig for American youngster Tyler Adams, who has struggled with a series of injuries since the start of the current campaign. The 21 year old is still looking for his first goal with Leipzig, having made six appearances for die Bullen this term (seven across all comps), but certainly, USMNT fans would have been pleased to see him back on the pitch this past weekend.
Although Leipzig ended up dropping two points in a frustrating draw with Freiburg, the fact that Adams featured in the starting XI looks promising, and fans will be hoping to see him finally grab that first goal with Julian Naglesmann's side as Leipzig look to at least secure a top-four spot this season.
Like Fabian Johnson, John Brooks may play for the USMNT but he has spent his entire life in Germany, where he was born and raised. And like Johnson, Brooks has also played his whole professional career for Bundesliga clubs. Currently, he's on the books at Wolfsburg, where he has plied his trade since 2017, but before then, he came up through the ranks at Hertha Berlin, and eventually broke into the first team.
The tall, powerful defender has also had issues with injury, but has since shaken off those troublesome hamstring problems that kept him out of action earlier on during the season. With his team looking to secure a Europa League football spot in a very congested field, they will need his steady presence at the back as they keep more clean sheets (one every three games or so) with him in the starting XI than without him (one every five to six games). A conceded goal, of course, can make the difference between a win and a draw, or a draw and a loss, and when a team is battling for a European football berth, every single point will count between now and the end of the season.
Despite their difficulties at times over the past couple of seasons, Weston McKennie continues to excel with Schalke, and has developed into a very reliable presence in the middle of the park for die Königsblauen. The 21-year-old has made over 20 appearances so far this season for David Wagner's side as they not only look to finish in the top half of the table, but perhaps even push for a Europa League football spot.
Although their return to action after COVID-19 interrupted the Bundesliga season was not what they wanted - a 4-0 humiliating defeat to Dortmund - McKennie has been in the starting XI for the vast majority of Schalke's matches, despite his young age. He's scored once so far this term, and with Schalke currently on a patch of rough form (they've failed to win their last five matches), Wagner will be really counting on his young talent to step up.
Youngster Brady Scott hasn't gotten any game-time under his belt with the first team, but the 20-year-old shot-stopper at least has been able to feature for Köln's reserves, where he kept two clean sheets in 11 appearances. Still, he does have a lot of promise: At 19, he won the Golden Glove following the u-20 USMNT's victory at the CONCACAF U20 Championship, during which he conceded just two goals in seven appearances.
Moreover, he does get to train with the first team when he's not playing in the Regionalliga West, so naturally, it is just a matter of biding his time to get his big break.
So there we have it, a wide selection of American (and Canadian) stars featuring in the Bundesliga. However, that's not all - in part two of this series, we have even more American (and Canadian) stars plying their trade in the Bundesliga. Have a look!