Chris Richards did not get the chance to build off his club debut at Bundesliga side Hoffenheim last weekend, but has a new chance ahead of him this week in Europa League action.
Hoffenheim travels to Norwegian side Molde on Thursday with Richards back among the eligible players this week. The Bayern Munich loanee missed last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund due to a knock, but could play a part in the first leg of the Round of 32 tie.
Richards has shown promising signs with Bayern Munich over the past 12 months, featuring in several competitions and also getting to learn with several experienced and top defenders. He also played a consistent role for Bayern’s Under-23 team after working his way up from the U-19’s.
Bayern Campus Manager Jochen Sauer recently praised Richards’ fast development at the club and looked at how his loan could be crucial for his long-term career in Germany.
“He can still learn a lot, especially in the tactical field,” Sauer said in an interview for the United Soccer Coaches Convention. “He can’t gain this experience with the professionals at the moment because the competition in this position is very high.”
“When a Bundesliga club like Hoffenheim becomes an option, where young players get a chance, then he [Richards] can take the step to become a Bundesliga player with a coach he knows. Hopefully he can then join Bayern and get his playing time.”
Sebastian Hoeneß is familiar with Richards from his time within Bayern Munich and now has his former player with him for the second-half of the Bundesliga season. The U.S. Men’s National Team defender did well in his club debut despite a 3-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt and now has several more opportunities this season.
Richards will not only get the chance to help Hoffenheim fight for a spot higher in the Bundesliga table, but also advance in the Europa League competition. While the bright lights of Bayern Munich may be his goal for the future, Richards for now will have to make the most of his time in Sinsheim and gather in plenty of experience elsewhere.
Hoffenheim faces off with Molde on Thursday before hosting Werder Bremen on Sunday.