UEFA Champions League: Americans aim to break more records

The 2020-21 UEFA Champions League has already been a record season for Americans in Europe's top club competition.

A record nine Americans played in the group stage, combining for a 30 appearances and three goals, records for a single season.

Seven of the nine have moved on to the knockout stage, and five have a good chance of playing in the round of 16, which starts on Tuesday.

The current record for most Americans to play in the Champions League's knockout stage is three: DaMarcus Beasley (PSV), Tim Howard (Manchester United) and Landon Donovan (Bayer Leverkusen) in 2005.

Soccer On TV: UEFA Champions League

Here are the five in contention to play in the round of 16, in order of their first leg:

Sergino Dest, Barcelona (first leg: Feb. 16 vs. Paris Saint-Germain).
Team: Barcelona has won seven LaLiga games in a row and is unbeaten in its last 12. But it still sits in third place, trailing Atletico Madrid by eight points. The priority is the Champions League, but PSG is a considerable obstacle even without injured Neymar. Player: Dest jumped almost immediately into the Barca starting lineup after his transfer from Ajax. But he hasn't started a LaLiga game in more than a month after being sidelined with a thigh injury. He played the last quarter of an hour in Saturday's 5-1 win over Alaves and looked lively. With Barca facing serious injury problems on its backline, Dest's return comes at an important time.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig (first leg: Feb. 16 vs. Liverpool in Budapest).
Team: Germany's travel ban has forced UEFA to move the first leg from Leipzig to Budapest. RB Leipzig is comfortably placed in the Bundesliga, five points ahead of third-place Eintracht Frankfurt, but a poor January has left it four points behind leader Bayern Munich, which has a game in hand. Player: Adams has started 12 of 21 Bundesliga but is still looking for his first start in the Champions League, where he came off the bench to score the winner against Atletico Madrid in the 2020 quarterfinals in Lisbon. He could get it in Budapest if Frenchman Nordi Mukiele returns to the backline.

Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund (first leg: Feb. 17 at Sevilla).
Team: BVB's young team has struggled since Edin Terzic replaced Lucien Favre as head coach in December, and it's faded from both the Bundesliga title race and the battle for Europe, sitting in sixth place, six points out of the top four. It won its Champions League group but will be the heavy underdog against Sevilla. Player: No American in the Champions League has played more this season than Reyna, who has already played 1,946 minutes this season in all competitions. He looks like he has hit a wall, however. He registered three goals and five assists in the his first 11 Bundesliga games but no goals or assists since then (nine games).

Weston McKennie, Juventus (first leg: Feb. 17 at Porto).
Team: Fourth in Serie A, behind Inter Milan, AC Milan and Roma, Juventus faces an uphill battle in its bid for a 10th straight Scudetto. Player: In a season of disappointments for la Vecchia Signora, McKennie has been a pleasant surprise. He has beaten out some big-name midfielders to become a favorite of first-year coach Andrea Pirlo and already played more than 1,500 minutes in all competitions. McKennie will likely start on the right side of midfield and tuck in on attack. He has already scored four goals this season, a career high.

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (first leg: Feb. 23 at Atletico Madrid).
Team: Like Dortmund and PSG, Chelsea has changed coaches since winning its group in the fall. Thomas Tuchel was fired by PSG just before Christmas and hired by Chelsea in January after Frank Lampard's dismissal as manager. The Blues have won three Premier League games in a row under Tuchel but are still in fifth place. Player: Pulisic has yet to start for Tuchel in the Premier League -- he was again on the bench when Chelsea faced Newcastle on Monday -- and has only scored two goals in 21 games in a disappointing sophomore season, again plagued by injuries, at Stamford Bridge. His best game of the season came last fall in the Champions League. He entered the match at Russia's Krasnodar in the 71st minute and was responsible for turning a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 rout.

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