UEFA Champions League: What can Yanks do for an encore?

It was a season like no other for Americans in the UEFA Champions League.

The 2020-21 season produced the first American to play in and win the final.

Christian Pulisic, who was a second-half substitute in Chelsea's 1-0 win over Manchester City in the final, was one of a record nine Americans to play in the group stage and five Americans to play in the knockout stage.

Pulisic's season reached its peak in the semifinals when he scored Chelsea's goal in its 1-1 tie at Real Madrid in the first leg and set up its insurance goal in its 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge in the second leg.

Matching those heights in 2021-22 won't be easy for the American contingent, which has grown to 12 players.

UEFA Champions League, Matchday 1: Soccer on TV

Pulisic returns for what will be a record sixth Champions League, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest enter their third Champions League seasons, while Gio Reyna and Zack Steffen begin their second Champions League seasons.

Of those six, only Adams, Dest and McKennie are available for this week's opening matches. Pulisic and Reyna were injured on national team duty while Steffen tested positive for Covid-19.

Adams' RB Leipzig reached the semifinals in 2020 and round of 16 in 2021 but advancing to the knockout stage under American coach Jesse Marsch will be an accomplishment. It's in a group with Manchester City, the 2021 runner-up, and Real Madrid, winner of a record 13 European titles.

Six other Americans are also registered for the Champions League group stage. Jordan Pefok (Young Boys), Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg) and John Brooks (Wolfsburg) are expected to start on Tuesday. Tim Weah would likely be in the starting lineup for French champion Lille, but he is still recovering from a thigh injury that kept him out of the September qualifiers.



Owen Otasowie is still looking to making his debut for Belgian champion Club Brugge following his transfer from Wolves, while Romain Gall hasn't dressed for Malmo since his loan spell at Orebro ended this summer.

UEFA Champions League, Matchday 1
Tuesday:
Young Boys (Jordan Pefok) vs. Man. United 12:45 pm.
Sevilla vs. RB Salzburg (Brenden Aaronson) 12:45 pm.
Dynamo Kiev vs. Benfica 3 pm.
Barcelona (Sergino Dest) vs. Bayern Munich 3 pm.
Lille (Tim Weah) vs. Wolfsburg (John Brooks) 3 pm.
Malmo (Romain Gall) vs. Juventus (Weston McKennie) 3 pm.
Chelsea (Christian Pulisic) vs. Zenit St. Petersburg 3 pm.
Villarreal vs. Atalanta 3 pm.
Wednesday:
Besiktas vs. Borussia Dortmund (Gio Reyna) 12:45 pm.
Sheriff Tiraspol vs. Shakhtar Donetsk 12:45 pm.
Club Brugge (Owen Otasowie) vs. PSG 3 pm.
Man. City (Zack Steffen) vs. RB Leipzig (Tyler Adams) 3 pm.
Atletico Madrid vs. Porto 3 pm.
Liverpool vs. AC Milan 3 pm.
Sporting vs. Ajax 3 pm.
Inter Milan vs. Real Madrid 3 pm.
Note: All times ET.

2 comments about "UEFA Champions League: What can Yanks do for an encore?".
  1. R2 Dad, September 14, 2021 at 10:22 a.m.

    Zelalem: another player whose career was cut short by  injury during international play. 

  2. Bob Ashpole, September 14, 2021 at 5:41 p.m.

    Nice article, Paul. Well done.

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