UEFA Champions League: What to know about eligible USMNT players in the group stage and what to expect

The group stage of the UEFA Champions League begins in September, and those six matches until November will leave us 16 teams to compete in the knockout stage and you will be able to follow all the action only in Paramount +. Many Americans, including several key pieces in the US men’s national team, are expected to try to test themselves in the world’s best club competition ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup that begins in November.

So who are the Americans ready to play in the group stage? Here’s what you need to know:

Christian Pulisic

club: Chelsea Football Club
Site: Wing / rear wing
Role with USMNT: The star of the team and sometimes the captain of the team.
prospects: The talented American star from UCL, winner of the competition two seasons ago, finds himself between pictorial rock and a tough spot. Well, it’s really between the stands and the touchline, resting comfortably on the bench in most games. Christian Pulisic has not started any of the team’s first five Premier League games, and may not start his opening Champions League game when they Dinamo Zagreb Tuesday. Sure, Pulisic got the start at West Ham on Saturday, but don’t get confused – this is the start as the manager prioritizes the energy of his favorite players, saving them for Tuesday. Pulisic will have to come off the bench and steadily advance to become more than just a bench player.

Weston McKinney

club: Juventus
Site: Midfielder
Role with USMNT: Arguably the team’s most important players and a sure start when they’re healthy.
prospects: Weston McKinney has had some great moments in this competition, especially a stellar scissor shot in the air in Barcelona. He started a 1-1 draw with Fiorentina over the weekend, which means there’s a chance he won’t start against PSG on Tuesday. Paul Pogba A return to Juve may not have been great in its minutes, but Juve mitigated their midfield crisis by sending Denis Zakaria to Chelsea and Arthur L Liverpool As a closed window which helps that a bit. He still has a good chance of being an important player for Juventus in this competition due to his versatility, and is likely to start some matches.

Jiu Rena

club: Borussia Dortmund
Site: Attacking midfielder/winger
Role with USMNT: He could be the team’s best talent, beginning when he’s healthy, but he could be a player off the bench because of Brendan Aronson
prospects: He has played only two games for Dortmund this season, including seven minutes against Hoffenheim on Saturday. He’s well rested so maybe he gets important minutes against FC Copenhagen on Tuesday. The club’s medical staff has always taken things slowly with him, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a little of him until he’s back to normal minutes again. Injury concern is always there as he has missed at least a week on nine different occasions since the 2020-21 season.

Sergino Dest

club: AC Milan
Site: defender / winger
Role with USMNT: Lock in the right back.
prospects: He is perhaps the most intriguing player of the group stage after escaping from Barcelona to Milan on loan on the day of the transfer deadline. It was only used in glorified charity matches and pre-season friendlies, and Barcelona president Xavi probably won’t trust him until he hands him a bottle of water. with Manchester United Also interested, it was a late blow from the Serie A champion that will hopefully reignite the young full-back’s career. With Alessandro Florenzi out for at least two months due to a muscle injury, Dest is vying with David Calabria for the right-back position. Don’t be surprised if Dest is given some wing time, too. AC Milan faces right-back RB Salzburg Tuesday.

Cameron Carter Vickers

club: Celtic
Site: center back
Role with USMNT: Fringe player gaining momentum
prospects: Cameron Carter Vickers went to the full 90 when Celtic crushed Rangers 4-0 in the Old Firm derby over the weekend. It has become a staple in the starting lineup and continues to deliver encouraging performances, clearly showing growth over the past 12 months. While it may have been an afterthought for the USMNT, you could say it’s the heart of the US defense in Europe that plays better. He seems to be pushing himself into the picture of Greg Berhalter.

John Brooks

club: Benfica
Site: center back
Role with USMNT: A long-lasting staple that looks like from the outside looking in
prospects: John Brooks finally signed for a team after his contract with Wolfsburg expired, joining the legendary Portuguese side Benfica. There, he will work with such well-known defenders as Nicolas Otamendi and the prestigious Morato. It seems to be a plus to add depth, but it will be interesting to see what kind of shape he’s in and if he can push for important minutes. When it comes to the national team, he was MIA, but if he can get back to his level before the World Cup, anything is possible with the center back being one of the big question marks.

Malik Tillman

club: Rangers
Site: Midfielder/Central Striker
Role with USMNT: A new young face looking to make the team ahead of schedule
prospects: Tillman is the man you feel will be key to the USMNT, but this World Cup could be too soon. Life at Rangers, after his move from Bayern Munich, started off well as he scores goals, gets assists and looks very confident. The talent is there, and getting the important minutes will help his progression. It remains to be seen if he plays a big role in the group stage or not, but Giovanni van Bronkhorst trusted him in the qualifying stages, and it paid off. Rangers play AJA on Wednesday.

James Sands

club: Rangers
Site: Defensive Midfielder / Defensive Center
Role with USMNT: Another marginal player with a real shot
prospects: The versatile former New York City soccer man really does come to the Rangers despite Celtic bashing over the weekend. He played seven Premier League games last season and has already played in five out of six games this season. His ability to play in defense or midfield is like carrying an extra player to Qatar. Rangers will put Ajax, Liverpool and Napoli in a very difficult group, so Sands will get a chance show If he can really compete with the best before the World Cup.

Owen Otasui

club: Club Brugge
Site: Defensive Midfielder / Defensive Center
prospects: A fringe player unlikely to get a shot
Role with USMNT: The New York City-born former Wolves man had one game for the USMNT, facing Wales in a friendly in November of 2020. He played three minutes. He is still eligible to represent England or Nigeria, and the latter appears to be the country most likely to banish him before he can be tied down. He’s a good player with a lot of potential, he’s still dormant, and the Americans look decent in the defensive midfield. Tyler Adams Driving the road and sand, among other things, provide depth. Now, if Otasowie leaves and has a fine two months to go, especially with the roster getting bigger at the World Cup, anything could happen. Brugge plays Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

Timmy Chandler

club: Eintracht Frankfurt
Site: Right Back / Right Midfielder
Role with USMNT: nothing at all. A former USMNT player, he has not played for the team since 2016.
prospects: There is certainly no chance that he will play for the USMNT team, and he will hardly ever play for Eintracht Frankfurt. Expect him to be an often underused minor player, having played only two games this season. Eintracht plays Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday.

Josh Cohen

club: Maccabi Haifa
Site: A goal keeper
Role with USMNT: He had never played for the US men’s national team, and casual fans probably hadn’t heard of him before August.
prospects: Israeli Footballer of the Year 2020-2021, Cohen played at the University of California, San Diego, and also spent time with Phoenix Rising and Sacramento Republic. He helped his club get Red Star Belgrade into the play-off and the team has not conceded multiple goals in any of its last three matches. With the USMNT’s depth of field goalkeeping, he’s unlikely to get much more than a chat. Maccabi takes over Haifa Benfica Tuesday.

First round schedule and start times

All times are oriental

First round: Tuesday 6 September
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Chelsea, 12:45 p.m. (Paramount +)
Borussia Dortmund vs. FC Copenhagen, 12:45 (Paramount +)
Salzburg vs Milan, 3pm (Paramount +)
Celtic vs Real Madrid, 3pm (Paramount +)
Leipzig vs Shakhtar Donetsk, 3pm (Paramount +)
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Juventus, 3 p.m. (Paramount +)
Seville vs. Manchester15:00 (Paramount +)
Benfica vs Maccabi Haifa, 3pm (Paramount +)

First round: Wednesday 7 September
Ajax vs Rangers, 12:45 pm (Paramount +)
Eintracht Frankfurt – Sporting Lisbon, 12:45 pm (Paramount +)
Napoli vs Liverpool, 3pm (Paramount +)
Tottenham vs. Marseille, 3 p.m. (Paramount +)
Atletico Madrid vs. Porto15:00 (Paramount +)
Club Brugge vs Bayer Leverkusen, 3pm (Paramount +)
Inter Milan x Bayern Munich, 3 pm (Paramount +)
Barcelona vs. Victoria Belsen15:00 (Paramount +)