PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — For FC Dallas loanee Chris Richards, the chance to see time with European giants Bayern Munich is a special opportunity.
The 19-year-old U.S. centerback earned 45 minutes on Wednesday as Bayern fell, 2-0, to Juventus in their International Champions Cup defeat at Lincoln Financial Field. Coming off the bench at halftime, Richards helped silence a Juventus attack that was sitting on a two-goal cushion.
“It felt good to get more first-team minutes,” Richards said. “A little disappointed that the result didn’t go our way tonight, but overall it’s just good to get into the game.”
“I’ve never been to Philadelphia but I’ve always heard good things and I was excited to play in front of a big crowd tonight. It felt a little weird to play here for the first time but overall I was happy to get out there.”
Richards now tries to learn as much as he can with the defending Bundesliga champs. With many talented international players around him, the centerback is seeking each and every way to learn and grow as a player on and off the field.
“Even in a short time I’ve been able to learn a lot from these guys, not just on the field but off it as well,” Richards said. “They carry themselves professionally in all aspects so I try to learn more from them to become a better person. They expect a lot out of you so you have to bring it everyday.”
Richards certainly isn’t the first American player to head to Germany as his next step as a professional. Christian Pulisic is a rising star with Borussia Dortmund, which he has been able to translate back over with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Weston McKennie, Josh Sargent, and Bobby Wood are a few other names that are in the Bundesliga and have seen their names tossed in the National Team’s conversations as well.
Even though it may be overwhelming at first, Richards is not backing down at the chance to be on the same level at Pulisic or any of the other Americans playing abroad. His time is now to prove that he has the ability to feature in Germany whether it is with Bayern’s first-team, youth teams, or another team.
“It’s big footsteps to fill but I’m just trying to rise to the occasion and follow what he started,” Richards said. “The most difficult thing has been the language. The team has helped me a little trying to learn it, but it’s not where I’d like it to be.”
“I thought overall I did okay tonight, but I’m just trying to learn everyday and improve in all aspects on the field. There are always things to get better at, so I’m going to watch some film, correct any mistakes that are needed and prepare for the next match.”
Bayern is preparing to defend their Bundesliga crown as well as advance deeper in the UEFA Champions League. Niko Kovac is the new manager in charge of the Bavarian club, and will certainly expect things to go smoothly in his first year at the helm. Even though Richards has not yet guaranteed a spot with the first-team for Bayern’s domestic season which begins in August, he has impressed the former Eintracht Frankfurt boss.
“He is a good talent, he’s practiced strong and has done well in his first two matches,” Kovac said. “Chris has a lot of time to work and get better and he will get the chances to do so. I know that if we need him that Chris will be ready to go.”
Bayern is next in action on Saturday in Miami as they face defending Premier League champions, Manchester City.