Association football – soccer – is not the most popular sport in the United States. Actually, it’s the least popular among the top 5 sports in the country – gridiron football (aka football), baseball, basketball, and ice hockey. Even with its sharp increase in viewership – due in part to the influx of major international soccer stars like Englishman Wayne Rooney who recently ended his tenure with DC United and David Beckham, who strengthened the ranks of LA Galaxy for five seasons before returning to Europe and ultimately retiring in 2013.
There are approximately 250 million soccer players in the world, with more than 100,000 of them playing professionally. Standing out from this crowd is about as easy as hitting a jackpot at the JackpotCity online casino. Maybe harder, actually: the odds of hitting the jackpot at JackpotCity are about 1 in 50 million, and all you need to do is play the game. Becoming an outstanding player, in turn, requires a combination of talent, skill, hard work, perseverance, and luck – while talent scouts are continuously looking for great players, they are not perfect either.
The US is not the greatest soccer nation in the world. Still, it’s a breeding ground for talented players – increasingly in the recent years. And there are quite a few great, outstanding players coming from the US making a name for themselves overseas.
Giovanni (Gio) Reyna
Born and raised in New York City, Gio Reyna joined the youth team of the local club New York City FC in 2015. During his time there, he was spotted by talent scouts from Europe, ultimately joining the ranks of the German club Borussia Dortmund last year.
Reyna made his first-team debut in Dortmund’s Bundesliga (Germany’s top-flight soccer league) last January, coming on as a substitute in a match against FC Augsburg. Since then, he became a regular, playing 22 league games and scoring one goal for the team. He was also called up repeatedly for the US national team, playing more than 30 games in the team’s youth matches, and twice (with one goal) for the senior team.
Reyna is excited about his future with Borussia Dortmund, saying that he’s ready for an even bigger role in the team going forward.
Christian Pulisic is perhaps the most expensive American soccer player to date: English Premier League club Chelsea paid £58 million ($77 million today) in 2019 to have him, which made his transfer the third-most-expensive in the year.
Born and raised in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Pulisic tried his hand (or better said, feet) in soccer at the age of seven, when he lived a year in England. Later, he joined Michigan Rush while his family lived in Michigan, and after returning home, he joined the ranks of the “PA Classics” academy in 2008. During his teens, he trained with Penn FC before he was scouted by German club Borussia Dortmund in 2015. He joined Dortmund’s youth team, standing out through his skill (he scored 10 times and assisted 8 times in his first 15 U17 games). As a result, he joined the senior team in the winter of 2016, after turning 18.
After two seasons with Dortmund, Pulisic left for the misty Albion, joining English Premier League club Chelsea in the summer of 2019. His first goals in the Premier League – a hat-trick against Burnley – followed soon.
Pulisic has played 34 games for the US National Team so far, scoring 14 times in the process.
A good goalkeeper is just as important for a soccer team as a forward or a defender – yet goalies are rarely in the spotlight. So, let’s correct this and take a look at the career of US goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Steffen started playing football recreationally at the age of five, and started training professionally when starting high school. In the early 2010s, he played with the Philadelphia Union youth academy, and was ranked the #1 goalkeeper of his generation by TopDrawerSoccer.com. In college, he played two seasons with the Maryland Terrapins before being signed by German soccer club SC Freiburg in 2014.
He made his senior debut with Freiburg’s second team in 2015. A year later, he joined Columbus Crew SC for three seasons (and a loan spell at Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2016) before being signed by the Premier League club Manchester City last summer. His career in the Premier League was interrupted by a loan spell with German Bundesliga team Fortuna Düsseldorf, where sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel called him “the perfect example of a modern goalkeeper”. Steffen returned to Manchester City for the 2020-2021 Premier League season as a first-team goalie.