This year’s Champions League stars more USMNT-eligible players than ever before, with enough champs to field a starting eleven.
Everybody knows about Captain America in London, but this year’s UCL has USMNT players from Scotland to Israel.
Bleacher Report recently shared a hilariously photoshopped summary of US players in this season’s Champions League.
That’s a roster that would go further than most of the teams represented in the photo will go.
With so many stars and stripes competing for the ship, let’s break down which American has the best shot of holding the UEFA Champions League trophy next June.
The Longshots – Josh Cohen, James Sands, Malik Tillman
That’s Josh Cohen getting scored on in the above clip. Don’t judge him too harshly, though – nobody could have stopped that shot.
Cohen’s Israeli team Maccabi Haifa doesn’t stand much of a chance in a stacked Group H where Benfica should be the least of their worries. Haifa is unlikely to win a single match in this group.
James Sand and Malik Tillman both play for Rangers and had huge roles in getting their team to the UCL. Despite their best efforts, the Rangers looked overwhelmed against Ajax. It’s a true longshot for these USMNT hopefuls to survive the rest of Group A against Liverpool and Napoli.
The Dark Horses – Timothy Chandler, Owen Otasowie, John Brooks, Cameron Carter-Vickers
Timothy Chandler’s Eintracht Frankfurt is learning the hard way that the Champions League ain’t no Europa League. Last year’s Europa champions have a favorable Group D despite their opening loss to Sporting CP. If Eintracht can save points against Marseille and get some back against CP, they just might survive the group stage to go on a run through the elimination rounds.
21-year-old Owen Otasowie plays for Club Brugge, a Belgian squad and one of the few teams on this list to win their opening match. Brugge will have a challenge with FC Porto and Atletico Madrid in Group B but are more than capable of advancing to the next round.
John Brooks only recently transferred to Portuguese powerhouse Benfica and has yet to make a start for the club. Still, he was on the bench when Benfica opened their campaign with a 2-0 victory and will likely start playing soon. Benfica is currently at the top of Group H but will have to upset PSG and Juventus to advance. With Juventus off balance, Benfica has more than a good shot of going deep into the tournament.
Even though Cameron Carter-Vickers and Celtic opened their campaign with a loss to reigning champs Real Madrid, there is still hope for the Scottish Premiership side. If they pull off wins against Shakhtar and RB Leipzig, Celtic could go on a run in the next round. It’s a long shot, but Celtic is a better bet than their Scottish rivals, Rangers, in this year’s UCL.
The Top Shots – Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Giovanni Reyna, Sergiño Dest
Here we have the cream of the crop – the top Americans representing some of the top clubs in Europe. Even from this group, only one USMNT looks like he has a chance after matchday 1 – Gio Reyna and Borussia Dortmund.
Reyna, who’s been dealing with a lingering hamstring injury for years, took to the UCL in style, finding two assists for his club. Man City is Dortmund’s only competition in Group G, so Reyna should make it to the round of 16 with ease. If Dortmund can go on a run, then who knows?
The other clubs represented here – AC Milan, Juventus, and Chelsea – had mild to bad starts to their UCL berths.
Chelsea and AC Milan (represented by Christian Pulisic and Sergiño Dest, respectively) are both in Group E. Though both teams should easily advance, Chelsea made a mess of their opener with a 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb, who currently leads the group. Chelsea is unlikely to continue playing this poorly, but if they don’t find their form soon, they could be booted from the tournament before reaching the next round.
AC Milan, hot off a Milan derby win over Inter, looked far less impressive against Salzburg. Though Milan and Chelsea should both advance, Group E still looks like a toss-up for now.
Weston McKennie has so far scored Juventus’ only goal in the tournament. He’ll need to score a lot more to keep up with Benfica, who Juventus will be fighting with for second place in Group H after PSG. Despite their long and illustrious history, Juventus still has everything to prove this year.
All in all, Gio Reyna has the best chance of winning the UEFA Champions League this year.
Which USMNT star do you think will win the UEFA Champions League next? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured Image: Pexels/Anna Tarazevich/USSoccerFederation/DM