It was a banner year for the Americans Abroad contingent, as the number of Americans playing their trades at top teams in Europe continued to grow, along with the number of Americans making big impacts at big clubs.
From Weston McKennie’s move to Juventus, Sergino Dest’s blockbuster transfer to Barcelona and Gio Reyna’s breakout at Borussia Dortmund, there was plenty for American soccer fans to be excited about.
Who were the best Americans Abroad performers in 2020?
2020 SBI Americans Abroad Best XI
Zack Steffen, Manchester City
Only four starts in 2020 is a light workload for Steffen, but those four came with Manchester City in cup competitions and Champions League, giving him the nod at a time when there are no American goalkeepers starting regularly in Europe’s top flight.
An early-2020 knee injury kept Steffen from continuing his impressive form on loan with German side Fortuna Dusseldorf, but he has since joined Manchester City as Ederson’s back-up and has made the most of the starts he has been given, with City unbeaten in his four matches.
Maccabi Haifa’s Josh Cohen is the lone American playing regularly in goal in Europe and merits an honorable mention nod.
Sergino Dest, Barcelona
A $25 million transfer from Ajax to Barcelona put serious pressure on Dest to perform and the Dutch-born fullback has stepped up to the challenge. He has taken over starting right back duties for Barcelona, and has impressed with his ability to get forward, along with his improving defense.
Capable of playing left back or right back, Dest has taken full advantage of an injury to Sergi Roberto to make the right back spot his own, and you could argue he has been Barcelona’s most consistent defender this season.
Boavista’s Reggie Cannon merits honorable mention for his seemless transition from FC Dallas to the Portuguese League.
John Brooks, Wolfsburg
One of the more consistent defenders in the Bundesliga, Brooks is in the midst of another strong season for Wolfsburg, which he has helped to a fourth-place position heading into the new year.
Erik Palmer-Brown has settled into a steady role with Austria Vienna on loan from Manchester City and merits honorable mention.
Chris Richards, Bayern Munich
The only player on this list to help lead a team to a first-place finish in 2020, Richards was a key starter in Bayern II’s run to the German third division title.
Richards made this Best XI after breaking through with Bayern’s first team, first making his league debut at the tail end of the previous season, then earning appearances in the German Super Cup and a start in the Champions League.
A smooth transition to Anderlecht nearly earned Matt Miazga a place on the Best XI, though his time at Reading in the first half of 2020 didn’t go as well as he would have hoped.
Antonee Robinson, Fulham
The year couldn’t have started worse for Robinson, who watched a proposed transfer to AC Milan fall apart after a medical exam uncovered a heart condition. He eventually had the condition addressed and returned to Wigan, where he finished the season playing well enough to draw attention from Premier League clubs, including Fulham.
Robinson’s move to Fulham has been a dream, with the USMNT fullback settling in as a consistent starter for the Cottagers.
Tim Ream has lost his starting role with Fulham, but garners honorable mention for his key role in helping Fulham secure promotion from the League Championship.
Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig
Injuries have been a persistent issue for Adams, but he showed once again in 2020 that when he is healthy he is a difference maker for RB Leipzig. His game-winning goal to eliminate Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals was one of American soccer’s biggest moments of the year, and cemented his status as an impact player.
Chris Durkin left MLS in search of European minutes and his move to Belgian St. Truiden has helped him continue to develop.
Weston McKennie, Juventus
McKennie started 2020 as one of the few bright spots on a terrible Schalke side, but his performances helped boost his stock as a transfer target and led to a loan move to Juventus.
He has made the most of that move, earning regular starts for Andrea Pirlo’s side, with his Man of the Match performance against Barcelona in Champions League producing the best goal of the year by an American.
Duane Holmes has had some outstanding stretches of form, but has endured multiple injury stretches that have slowed his momentum, but he has still done enough in 2020 to earn honorable mention consideration.
Julian Green, Gruether Furth
The only player in the Best XI who doesn’t play in the first division, Green earned his place by virtue of his consistent performances over the course of the year with German second division side Gruether Furth, which heads into the new year in promotion position.
The 2014 World Cup veteran has evolved into an impressive two-play player, delivering goals, assists and the kind of work rate that should help him make a return to the Bundesliga.
Yunus Musah went from academy player to first-team starter at Valencia, and his 15 starts have positioned him as a player to watch in 2021. Musah parlayed that form into a USMNT debut, though he is still eligible to play for England and Ghana.
Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund
It is crazy to think that this time last year we were still waiting for Reyna to make his first-team debut, but 2020 was a dream breakout season for the teenager. He went from super substitute last season to regular Borussia Dortmund starter in the new campaign.
Reyna has evolved into one of the top young playmakers in Europe, having notched three goals and four assists so far in the current Bundesliga season.
Andrija Novakovich helped Frosinone come close to earning promotion to Serie A last season, and was just starting to heat up late in the year when he tested positive for COVID-19. Novakovich finished the year with nine goals for the Serie B side.
Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen
The only American striker starting regularly in a top league, Sargent made the transition from bench option to starter at Werder Bremen, and while the goals may not be flying, Sargent is clearly evolving and improving his all-around game.
Bremen narrowly avoided relegation last season, but rebounded with strong start to the new season. Sargent has played an important part in that, and will be key to Bremen’s survival in 2021.
Aron Johannsson has revived his career with a big 2020, scoring goals in bunches for Swedish side Hammarby.
Christian Pulisic, Chelsea
A New Year’s Day injury doomed Pulisic to a lengthy stint on the sidelines to start 2020, but he came back and immediately flourished, playing some of the best soccer of his career, helping Chelsea to a Top 4 finish in the Premier League and reach the FA Cup final.
Pulisic has continued to endure injury issues, but is still making an impact when he is healthy. Chelsea finished 2020 struggling for results, but Pulisic will be key to the Blues turning things around in 2021.
Emmanuel Sabbi made a smooth transition from Hobro to Odense BK, continuing to score goals and show off his versatility as a striker and winger.
What do you think of the Americans Abroad Best XI? Who are you happy to see included? Who did we leave out that you feel deserved a place?
Share your thoughts below.