The 2020-21 season saw Americans enjoy unprecedented success in the big five European leagues.
Their contributions were varied and came at different times in the season, but Americans played for championship teams in three of the five leagues (England, France and Germany). Americans also played on the winning teams in the cup finals in three of the same five countries (Germany, Italy and Spain).
The topper was Christian Pulisic's role in helping Chelsea win the UEFA Champions League title.
It's early in the new season, but signs are that player and/or club repeating the same success won't be easy.
In France, Tim Weah, Lille's best rated player before his thigh injury in late August, returned to action on Saturday in the champion Dogues' 1-0 loss at archrival Lens that dropped them in 15th place with five points in six games, 13 points off the lead and just two points out of last place.
In Germany, Tyler Adams' RB Leipzig, the 2020-21 Bundesliga runner-up, is off to its worst start ever since its promotion to the Bundesliga with four points in five games, nine points off the lead and just three points out of last place.
In Spain, Sergino Dest's Barcelona remained unbeaten but needed a 90th-minute goal to earn a 1-1 tie with winless Granada on Monday. Without Lionel Messi for the first time since the 2004-05, Barca's prospects don't look great.
Weston McKennie's Juventus, which is off to its worst start in Italy's Serie A in 50 years, winless after four games and in the relegation zone, just 14 months removed from clinching its ninth straight Scudetto.
Individually, several prominent national team players find themselves in difficult situations.
John Brooks did not play for unbeaten Wolfsburg in its 1-1 tie with Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday after being red carded in the Wolves' 0-0 tie at Lille in their UEFA Champions League opener.
New Wolfsburg coach Mark van Bommel simply said Brooks needed to be careful about picking up second yellow cards. (Van Bommel's career ended with with ninth yellow-red card 19 minutes from time in the final game of his career in 2013.)
The Wolfsburger Allgemeine reported Wolfsburg is open to extending Brooks' contract -- he is a free agent at the end of the season -- but only if he accepts a pay cut. (A decision will likely be made during the winter break.)
In his first season at Juventus, McKennie quickly became a favorite of Andrea Pirlo, who was not retained as head coach. Massimiliano Allegri, Pirlo's replacement, does not seem as high on McKennie, who has played just 140 minutes over Juve's first five competitive matches and did not get off the Juve bench against AC Milan on Sunday.
The 2021-22 season is complicated by World Cup 2022 qualifying. The USA did not play in the September or October FIFA windows in 2020. Covid-19 was raging in Europe, so travel was difficult. The plus side was, the young Americans were able to fully concentrate on solidifying their place at their clubs.
When the USA played in the November 2020 and March 2021 windows, it played just two games per window, all in Europe, the second friendly being played on Monday and then Sunday, plenty of time for players to reintegrate back into their clubs.
Now, World Cup 2022 qualifying has moved into full swing -- three games over seven days on top of transatlantic travel in September, to be replicated in October and November.
Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund are both off to strong starts to their new seasons, but Pulisic and Gio Reyna (two goals in his first three Bundesliga games) haven't played for them since being injured in the September qualifiers. Dest's start at right back -- he later moved to the left side -- in the Granada match was his first appearance for Barca since injuring his ankle in the 1-1 tie with Canada in Nashville.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said on Sunday Pulisic (ankle sprain) remained "doubtful" for Wednesday's Carabao Cup match against Aston Villa, while Dortmund coach Marco Rose recently said Reyna's hamstring strain could keep him out of action until mid-October.
A little bit of good news on Monday: Zack Steffen is healthy and completed his quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19. He is training again with Manchester City and expected to start in Tuesday night's game against Wycombe Wanderers in the Carabao Cup, which City won in 2021 with Steffen in goal for every game.
Photo: Jean Catuffe/DPPI/Icon Sportswire