- More Americans play in the German Bundesliga than in any other top league in Europe.
- Insider spoke to Bayern Munich's Chris Richards and RB Leipzig's Tyler Adams about why.
- Both players told us how Christian Pulisic inspired their move to Germany, as well as the opportunity to play at such a high level in the first team.
- Visit the Insider home page for more stories.
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Rising football stars always want to emulate their heroes.
And when 17-year-old Christian Pulisic scored his first Bundesliga goal for Borussia Dortmund against Hamburger SV in April 2016, he changed the standards for young Americans looking to make it in professional football.
The United States' brightest young stars no longer wanted to follow in the footsteps of Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard and play in the English Premier League, nor did they want to try to emulate the successes of Landon Donovan in the MLS - they wanted to go to Germany.
Currently, no top league in Europe has more Americans or USMNT internationals than the Bundesliga, and several more stars have secured big-money moves from Germany to other elite European leagues in recent years.
There's Tyler Adams at RB Leipzig;Weston McKennie, who joined Juventus from Schalke in the summer; Werder Bremen's Josh Sargent; Chris Richards of Bayern Munich; Wolfsburg's John Brooks; and of course Pulisic, the most expensive American soccer player of all time after joining Chelsea.
"I would say he paved the way for so many Americans to see how they set their goals and their mindset," Adams, a 21-year-old Leipzig midfielder who also plays for the US national team, told Pulisic Insiders .
“Everyone will have their own path of development. For me, I could play MLS first and then move to Europe, where [Christian] thought it would be more beneficial to come to Europe straight away, so he went that route .
"His path and how he has evolved is special, and he has paved the way for many Americans who believe they are capable of taking that step," continued Adams, who became a starwhen he scored a last-minute winner for Leipzig in a Champions League quarter-final last season.
Pulisic joined Dortmund when he was just 15 years old
After playing most of his youth career for the PA Classics, a US Soccer Development Academy club, in his hometown of Hershey, Pennsylvania, Pulisic turned down Barcelona to join Dortmund in 2015.
According to the Bundesliga, the move was partly orchestrated by his father, Mark Pulisic, who, with the help of London-based consultant Rob Moore, put the two parties in touch.
After moving to the Ruhr area, Pulisic quickly established himself as one of the club's hottest young stars, scoring 10 goals and providing eight assists in just 15 games for Dortmund's youth teams - earning him a first-team call-up less than a year after his move brought in from America.
He made his Bundesliga debut in January 2016 and recorded 19 goals and 26 assists in just 127 first-team games over the next 3 1/2 seasons before joining Chelsea for $75m.
Since Pulisic moved to Dortmund as a teenager and took the Bundesliga by storm, a total of eight American compatriots have made the move to Germany's top flight, all seemingly trying to emulate Pulisic in one way or another.
One of them is 20-year-old Chris Richards, who switched from FC Dallas to FC Bayern Munich in January 2019.
"Seeing Christian in Dortmund was definitely a factor in my decision to move to the Bundesliga," Richards, who made his Bayern first-team debut in June, told Insider.
"Christian is only two years older than me and when I saw him come to Germany and make an impact almost immediately I was very optimistic that this was the right league for me."
But it's not just Pulisic who is luring Americans to Germany
A 2019 study by the CIES Football Observatoryfound that the average age of the starting XI in Germany's top flight was just over 26 - the lowest in all five European leagues.
Last season Borussia Dortmund, who finished second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich, had an average age of the team sheets of just under 26 years.
Adams' RB Leipzig, who finished third and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, had an average age of just over 24.
"The main reason a lot of young players want to come here is that player after player gets the opportunity to go out there - whether they make a mistake in the first game or not, they are trusted to only get better with more minutes." , said Adams, who joined Leipzig in 2019 from the New York Red Bulls.
"For me, that was one of the main reasons why I moved to Germany, it was a clear development plan for me, how I can keep getting better and better as a player and as a person.
"That's one of the main reasons why I really enjoy my time in Leipzig."
The clubs take great care of their up-and-coming stars
When Christian Pulisic joined Dortmund as a 15-year-old, the club looked after him as a person as much as they did as a player, according to Doug Harris, chairman of Pulisic's children's club, the PA Classics.
"What was cool, and I give Dortmund credit for that, is that they understood that bringing a 15-year-old from the States was a big step," Harris told Insider when commenting on his former player's move was asked by America to Germany.
"They made arrangements for his father to come along and so his father was right there."
Harris said Dortmund gave Pulisic's father, a former professional indoor footballer, a job working for the club's youth programmes.
"Christian and Mark lived over there in an apartment and it was all part of Dortmund's plan to say, 'Hey, we have a parent and we have a player, let's develop them together.'
"It was just a good formula. It turned out to be a really good formula."
Adams, although older than Pulisic when he moved to Germany, says he received similar treatment from Leipzig to help him settle in.
"Leipzig essentially does to help the players who come in to take care of everything off the field so they can focus on what's going on on the field," he said.
“When I got here I was already able to get an apartment set up and stuff like that, so I didn't have to stay in a hotel when I got there. People don't realize how big of a difference it can really make when you're not trapped in a single room, you know.
"It's also important that my parents can come over every now and then and help me with that, because when you live alone in the US you don't realize you can still travel home, but now that I've traveled such a long distance it's nice to see her when I can."
Germany also has a style of play that suits the Americans
"I think so many American players are drawn to the Bundesliga because of the style of play," Richards told Insider.
"The Bundesliga is a very physical and technical league and that appeals to us Americans more than any other league."
Adams agrees with his compatriot, telling Insiders the style of play is "almost exactly the same" as the New York Red Bulls.
"We literally played the same way - high pressing, high energy, creating chances quickly and keeping the opponent on their toes throughout the game," he said. "So when I came to Leipzig, it was easy to fit into the system."
Even Bayern Munich and Germany icon Lothar Matthäus, who won seven Bundesliga titles from 1984 to 2000 as well as the World Cup for West Germany in 1990, has suggested that the American style of play is a perfect match for that of the Bundesliga.
"We are happy to have these young Americans in the Bundesliga because they are excellent players and have everything that we like to see in Germany,"he told Bleacher Report.
"They are strong in defence, quick in attack and they can score goals. We have a similar mentality. It's not that difficult for Americans to come to Germany. It's much more difficult when they have to play in Spain for example, or." Italy – different football, different mentality."
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