Soccer may be growing in popularity across the United States, but it has been a very gradual process. In the men’s games, American sports fans are accustomed to seeing the world’s best talents come through the system and remain in the major leagues. The MLS, on the other hand, doesn’t have that level of pulling power in sports, which may, in part, explain why the sport has struggled to find a strong footing in North America.
Desiring to see the very best of the best face off in each match, as well as the nation’s best products compete, the UEFA Champions League has become the go-to competition for American fans. So, to get this dose of national pride alongside potential championship celebrations, which teams should American soccer fans root for?
Bayern Munich: Favourites
Having won the tournament last season, Bayern Munich remain favorites in the Champions League odds at the exchange, where soccer fans wager against each other, rather than a bookie. You’d be hard-pressed to find a matchday when the Bavarians aren’t favored, especially after they ousted the high-velocity Paris Saint-Germain to win the trophy last season. While Chris Richards may not play a huge part this season, fellow MLS alumnus Alphonso Davies will be a core part of the puzzle when he’s fit.
In 2018, perpetual German champions Bayern Munich made waves by signing one of MLS’ most exciting young talents, Davies. Before the Canadian’s seismic arrival, however, they also pulled in American center-back Richards from FC Dallas. Davies quickly became a bona fide superstar after his arrival in January 2019, while Richards has finally started to break into the first-team this season.
Given the national team’s recent struggles, it may sound bizarre that a young American has been able to break into a side that also contains the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Gianluigi Buffon, and Giorgio Chiellini. Still, that’s exactly what 22-year-old Weston McKennie has achieved this season. On-loan from Schalke 04 in Germany, the Little Elm, Texas-native has muscled his way into a central midfield role.
Juventus boasts a super mix of young talents and seasoned veterans who have gone deep in the Champions League several times before. Of course, it also helps that they have one of the best finishers in world football in Ronaldo. Noted by The Guardian for his endless battery, McKennie could end up being a core piece of the Old Lady’s Champions League push this season.
hailed Captain America, he’s already had a tremendous impact on the national team and has been one of Chelsea’s standout performers since the switch last season. Back in the Champions League, Pulisic and Chelsea are the seventh favorites to win the ultimate European prize, but the team has the quality across the board to upset the odds.
Whether you want to root for an American from Pennsylvania, Alabama, Texas, or even a Canadian, top-class talents are impressing for top Champions League sides this season.