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USMNT Oct 21, 2020

Five young USMNT players make history in UEFA Champions League

Five young Americans made more history in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

Kicking off the 2020-21 competition on Tuesday, Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Sergiño Dest (FC Barcelona), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea) and Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) all appeared in their clubs’ respective UCL openers, marking the first time five different U.S. players have appeared on the same day.

The previous record of three was set during the 2012-13 UCL Group Stage when U.S. internationals Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht) and Oguchi Onyewu (Málaga) each appeared on the same day twice – November 20 and December 4, 2012.

Defender Michael Parkhurst also took part in the competition on the same “matchdays” – the two-day window for games during a given week – but different calendar days that year. Parkhurst played for Danish club Nordsjælland on November 21 and December 5, 2012, to mark the previous record of four U.S. players on one UCL matchday.

HOW THE FIVE PLAYERS PERFORMED ON TUESDAY

Playing one of the early games, Horvath stepped in after Belgium National Team ‘keeper Simon Mignolet tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend and backstopped Club Brugge to a 2-1 win.

The 25-year-old ‘keeper fell victim to an own goal, when a blistering, long-range effort from Dejan Lovren evaded Horvath’s diving stop, careened off the lower right post and in off the back of the ‘keeper. The goal was the first Horvath has conceded in four career UCL appearances.

However, he showed incredible resilience, making two key saves down the stretch — a point-blank stop on Artur Dzyuba in the 79th minute before turning away another dangerous chance from Wendel in the 89th. Those stops proved crucial as Brugge attacker Charles De Ketelaere dropped a stoppage-time winner to hand the Belgian side a dream start to the Champions League campaign.

Deployed at left back as he has been for the USMNT, Dest was part of the buildup for the highlight reel worthy second goal of the match for Barcelona side, who rolled to a comfortable 5-1 victory.

With now his second straight start since returning from injury, Pulisic lasted through second-half stoppage time of a fantastic duel between Chelsea and Sevilla that ended with the teams splitting points in a goalless draw.

Reyna entered at the start of the second half with Dortmund down 2-0 at the break and delivered a spot-on pass to his familiar partner Erling Haaland, recording his second career assist in the Champions League and sixth overall for Dortmund. The goal cut the deficit momentarily, but Lazio found another and finished as 3-1 winners.

Adams made his first appearance the group stage of this competition, coming on in the 58th minute and helping secure RB Leipzig’s 2-0 shutout against İstanbul Başakşehir.

With a total of 10 U.S. players eligible to appear in this edition of the UEFA Champions League, there’s still the possibility that this record gets broken again before the end of the year…

OTHER NOTES:

  • Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie missed a second straight match as he continues his isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 last week.
  • Still just 22 years old, Pulisic earned his U.S- record 27th UCL appearance and fifth overall for Chelsea in their home clash against Sevilla.
  • Dest, 19, earned his Champions League debut for Barcelona against Hungarian champions Ferencváros, and in the process became the fifth U.S. player to feature for two different clubs in the competition. The former Ajax full back follows DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven, Rangers), Jones (Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke), Onyewu (AC Milan, Málaga) and Pulisic (Chelsea, Dortmund).
  • Dest’s FC Barcelona teammate Konrad de la Fuente was not named to the matchday squad.
  • Horvath made his first appearance of the season for Club Brugge in their visit to Zenit St. Petersburg. The 25-year-old ‘keeper, stepped in for Belgian international Simon Mignolet who tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
  • Still awaiting a camp that would allow him to earn his first USMNT appearance, 17-year-old Reynalined up for his third Champions League match today at Lazio. He sits one game behind former Rosenborg defender Robbie Russell as the American with the most Champions League appearances without playing for the USMNT.