German-American players have had a huge influence on the U.S. men's soccer team over the past few years, so we decided to assess—and rank—them based on their most recent efforts.
March 08, 2013
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The rise of German-Americans has dominated the United States men’s national soccer team picture the past few years, especially since the hiring of Jurgen Klinsmann in July 2011.
Influential players such as Jermaine Jones, Timothy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, and Danny Williams have injected a Teutonic influence on the team, altered depth charts, and raised expectations.
But how are these German-American athletes performing right now? We took a close look at the athletes coming out of Deutschland and crafted this ranking of the top 10 German-Americans based on their current play.
10. Jerome Kiesewetter—Stuttgart II
The 20-year-old German-American signed a four-year professional contract with Stuttgart early last summer, and he immediately joined the team’s reserve squad for the 2012-2013 season. Stuttgart’s reserve team is one of the best in Germany, playing in the 3.Liga.
For all the promise that came with the contract and move, Kiesewetter struggled with a shin injury that kept him out for a while and then picked up a red card during Stuttgart II’s 2-0 loss to Heidenheim on Oct. 6 after just 16 minutes of action. The forward made two appearances before the winter break.
Despite the slow start, the outlook is bright for the six-foot center-forward. Kiesewetter came off the bench twice for Stuttgart II coach Jürgen Kramny before joining Tab Ramos and the United States U-20 team in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying (where he entered as a substitute in two matches). He played 11 minutes and received a yellow card in the 2-1 win over Haiti and camein as a garbage-time substitute in the 1-0 over Costa Rica.
Young and full of promise, expect to hear more from him in the next few years.
9. Alfredo Morales—Hertha Berlin
After making eight appearances in the Bundesliga last season, the midfielder has fallen far under Hertha Berlin coach Jos Luhukay. He played just one DFB Pokal match with the first team before dropping to the reserve team that plays in the Regionalliga Nordost (the fourth tier in Germany).
Klinsmann still brought Morales in to the U.S. men’s national team camp in January and even gave him his first cap against Canada on Jan. 29. Morales built on this momentum from the camp and worked his way into Hertha Berlin’s first team. He recorded his first start of the season in a Feb. 16 win over Aalen, and has reason to be optimistic.
“I don’t know exactly what happened but something did,” Morales told the Berliner Kürier following the match. “Klinsmann is a great motivator. He told me that I have a lot of talent and I should go on my way.”
8. Andrew Wooten—Sandhausen
Like Morales, Wooten received some playing time in the Bundesliga in the 2011-12 season but then struggled to find playing time after his team went down due to relegation.
Kaiserslautern loaned Wooten to fellow 2.Bundesliga team Sandhausen in August, and the former club’s CEO, Stefan Kuntz, said that the move was “the ideal situation for (Wooten) to play regularly and continue developing.”
Wooten found playing time scarce at the beginning, but with the arrival of coach Hans-Jürgen Boysen on Nov. 10, he saw more and more action and is now a regular fixture in the starting lineup.
More important, though, is where he’s playing. Sandhausen has deployed Wooten primarily at right wing instead of forward, and he has found success in that role. The 23 year old has scored four goals and recorded three assists, and he’s also made kicker’s 2.Bundesliga Team of the Week three times—most recently for a two-assist performance against St. Pauli on Feb.10.
7. John Anthony Brooks—Hertha Berlin
The youngest of the three German-Americans to come out of the Hertha Berlin youth system, Brooks has shown tremendous potential this season.
The central defender took advantage of teammates’ injuries and suspensions to claim a spot in the Starting XI, receiving 17 starts and 20 total appearances. He’s been smooth on the ball, and because of his size—he’s six-foot-seven—Brooks can dominate in the air. He has won 78.4 percent of his aerial challenges this season, according to the stats on the Bundesliga’s official Web site.
He has also earned praise from Luhukay, his coach, who told the Taggespiegel, “The consistency in his performances isn’t normal for players his age.”
Germany U-21 coach Rainer Adrion has noticed Brooks, keeping him as an option for the U-21 European Championship in Israel this summer. Although Brooks said in the past that he leans more toward playing for the U.S., he will have to choose between the two countries at some point, and it may not be an easy decision.
6. Daniel Williams—Hoffenheim
While Williams is a candidate to start for the U.S., Hoffenheim hasn’t viewed him as first-team player in recent weeks.
The defensive midfielder began the season as a solid option to start, but several bad outings at the end of 2012 for both club and country, combined with a coaching change at Hoffenheim, has resulted in a struggle for playing time. With the club facing an injury crisis for at No. 6 position, Hoffenheim brought in Eugen Polanski and a few other midfielders in the winter transfer window instead of letting Williams hold down the fort.
That didn’t stop coach Marko Kurz from calling on Williams against Bayern Munich last Saturday, however. With Polanski out, Williams provided a significant offensive threat during the first half, having three shots go just wide of the net.
Whether this performance is enough to reverse his fortunes for Hoffenheim and the United States remains to be seen, but at least it is a step in the right direction.
5. Shawn Parker—Mainz
Parker burst onto the Bundesliga scene on Nov. 27, recording a goal and an assist in his first league start. His 18-year strike not only showed his skill and power, it also proved to be the game winner as Mainz went on to defeat rial Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1. The 19-year-old forward played well in his subsequent match too, earning an assist in Mainz’s 2-1 win over Hannover.
The Wiesbaden native, the son of a U.S. serviceman, has cooled off since then, making news more for bad challenges than anything else. Within a span of one month, Parker has been sent off twice, most recently for nearly decapitating Augsburg’s American defender Michael Parkhurst.
Parker has a high ceiling, but odds are that it would be a steal for the U.S. to get him in the Stars and Stripes. He’s thoroughly entrenched in the German youth system and seems keen on staying within his native country.
4. Terrence Boyd—Rapid Vienna
Boyd earned his first international caps without playing a single professional minute with Borussia Dortmund, but this German-born U.S. international has already proven his worth in Austria with Rapid Vienna.
The 22-year-old forward has scored 14 goals and registered four assists in 30 matches this season for the Austrian giants, including 10 goals in league play (fourth-best goal total in the Austrian Bundesliga). Since the Austrian season restarted mid-February, Boyd has scored one goal—a header in Rapid’s 3-3 tie at Red Bull Salzburg—but his team has struggled, collecting just two out of a possible 12 points.
Like Klinsmann, Rapid coach Peter Schöttels is bullish on Boyd: “We are very happy with Terrence,” he said, adding that the team is trying to help Boyd return to the U.S. national team fold by adding new layers to his game.
3. Timothy Chandler—Nuremberg
Chandler's year started off on a rather horrible fashion, epitomized by a shockingly bad performance in 3-0 loss to Freiburg on Oct. 6. The German-American gave away a penalty late in the game, and the referee probably should have called another penalty because of a Chandler handball in the box.
He has since turned it around, notching a goal and three assists for Der Club, as the team has lifted itself out of the relegation zone. In the past two matches, Chandler has put in some solid performances, recording game-tying assists in each. His assist in the Hannover match came at a crucial juncture—two minutes into stoppage time.
He's still struggling with his crossing, posting a 17 percent success rate on 88 attempts this season, but he is winning 58.3 percent of his challenges according to the Bundesliga’s official site.
2. Fabian Johnson—Hoffenheim
Consistently one of the better players on his relegation-threatened team, Johnson started off the season fast but has since fallen back.
The American left back scored three goals and added three assists in Hoffenheim's first 13 matches but hasn't recorded either in his last 10 Bundesliga appearances. He has struggled a bit on defense as well, but playing 2,063 out of a possible 2,160 league minutes in league play may be a factor. Seeing that much action tends to leave very little gas in the tank.
Even with his struggles, Johnson has created 27 chances for his team and has an 82.6-percent pass-completion rate. He hasn't skimped on the defensive side either, winning 59.2 percent of his challenges.
1. Jermaine Jones—Schalke
As hard as it may be for many followers of the U.S. men's national team to fathom, Jermaine Jones is the best German-American right now.
Don’t believe it? Check out kicker’s rating of the central midfielder. A notoriously tough grader, kicker rates players on a one-to-six scale, with one being the highest score. In Champions League play, Jones has received a 2.8 rating, a great number considering most players average in the mid–to-upper "3" range. This, in the toughest league in the world.
Sure, Jones continues to give away possession cheaply at times, and although he has received only five yellow cards this season in Bundesliga action, he continues to throw reckless challenges in too often. When the Royal Blues struggled for a long stretch in the middle of the season, he struggled as well.
The fact remains, however, that Jones is performing well on the biggest stages. He has scored two goals and assisted on six more in all competitions, and in his last three matches alone, he scored one and assisted on two, with his goal earning an all-important 1-1 tie at Galatasaray in the first knockout stage in the Champions League. Because of his goal, Schalke has a great shot to move onto the quarterfinals when the teams face off on Tuesday in Gelsenkirchen.
Mathew Wagner is ASN's Europe Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter.