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U.S. U-23 forward Haji Wright joins VVV Venlo


U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team forward Haji Wright has made a permanent move to the Netherlands.

VVV Venlo announced on Friday they’ve signed Wright to a one-year contract from Schalke with an option for 2020. Wright was also linked with 1860 Munich of the German third-division.

“Years ago I set my sights on a successful career in Europe. After a number of seasons in Germany, I now hope to be important for VVV-Venlo,” Wright said. “Through my goals and with my drive I want to apply to the team. The conversations with the people from this club gave me the right feeling to make this switch. I am looking forward to play in the premier league for VVV-Venlo.”

Wright is coming off 14-goal, five assist haul with Schalke’s U-23 side this past season, helping them win promotion. He also made his Bundesliga debut, scoring one goal in seven senior appearances for the Gelsenkirchen club.

“Haji is an excellent player who will give our vanguard even more body. Speed, duel power and very focused,” Venlo technical director Stan Valckx said. “We are happy and grateful that we came out with Schalke and that this player opted for our club, because I am convinced that he is an added value for our selection with his input and his commitment.

VVV Venlo finished 12th in the Eredivisie last season, sitting eight points clear of the relegation zone. Wright is the first American at the club since Gedion Zelalem spent a loan spell with Venlo in 2017.

Wright has also worked his way through the U.S. Soccer ranks, recently appearing twice for the U-23 side in March friendlies. He’s also appeared domestically with Sandhausen during his time in Germany.


  1. As a young USMNT player, I obviously hope the best for him and it seems like a better option than sticking in the lower divisions In Germany. Can’t say I was ever really all that impressed with him in my limited observation but who knows— he will be tested technically in Holland for sure

  2. I remember when he was sent on loan (?) to the Cosmos from LA, and he didn’t make an impact either. Seemed to he fit in at that level but didn’t stand out or anything. He was very raw (poor 1st touch and lack of off the ball movement) back then and haven’t seen him since the Cosmos stint.

    • Haji actually left LAG Academy wasn’t a loan. It was purely to gain some professional experience before heading to Europe when he turned 18. That was always the plan, he’s done well in the U19s and U23s (remember Schalke II was in the 5th division not the fourth where most reserve sides play) Schalke has always rated him below McKennie and Taitague, more athleticism than skill and some questions about his work rate. A less physical league could well be a good spot for him.

    • we have a lot — though we could use any new ideas that perform — but we have a lot of excuses why we can’t use them. this will remove the excuse that wright is a part timer.

      • The “excuse” was he wasn’t very good when he was playing not that he didn’t play enough. Big difference even from Weah who didn’t play because the new manager was moving away from loanees to Wright only getting on because of injury and being replaced by a CM because he was doing virtually nothing. He’s young seems like a good move but when the club lets you go for free probably doesn’t show NT quality at this point in your career.

      • well it’s hard to use players that are mostly reservist and loanees on the level that is the USMNT….if people want to continue to whine about certain players not being given a chance then we need to air our differences with the players first, for not making enough of an impact to be considered. The NT is not a development team, nor should it be. Sarachan did a good job of giving a lot of the youth players international experience against some of the toughest nations in the world, and although the results showed they weren’t ready for that level it was still good to begin changing the mood around the team after failing to qualify for the WC. Now it’s time for them to start impacting their clubs to become more of an option with the senior NT.

  3. I realize the locale du jour is Germany but Holland has done well by a lot of American players. Wright was one of the hot commodities a couple youth cycles ago. He did well with Schalke II but then basically disappeared in First Team Land. I hope he gets back to success.

      • Was there a transfer fee involved? How invested in Venlo in Wright’s future. A one year contract seems speculative. I hope Haji hits it big in the Netherlands if he develops into a Euro quality pro it could be a big boost to the Olympic and the national teams.

    • Free from what I’ve read, but might just be the number hasn’t been released but of their 8 transfers this Summer all but one was free and the one was 500,000 Euros.

      • Doubt they paid more than $300k for an unproven 1st team player like him. Probably was released on a free.

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