Jesse Marsch and Tyler Adams are no strangers to the UEFA Champions League, but neither has experienced the gauntlet they are about to endure after Thursday’s group stage draw set them on course for navigating the ‘Group of Death’.
RB Leipzig was drawn into the same group as tournament favorites Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, and are joined by Owen Otasowie and Club Brugge in what was widely-regarded as the most difficult group generated by Thursday’s draw.
A total of 12 American players are currently projected to make group-stage rosters, a number that would break the previous record of 10, which was set just last year. That number could still increase or decrease depending on looming moves for such players as Weston McKennie and Chris Richards, as well as fringe players on the books at certain clubs who aren’t expected to make the group-stage rosters.
Group G is the one featuring the most American players, with three of the four teams featuring USMNT representation. Tim Weah’s Lille, John Brooks’ Wolfsburg and Brenden Aaronson’s Red Bull Salzburg will square off, and are joined by La Liga force Sevilla.
Christian Pulisic and reigning Champions League winner Chelsea will face Weston McKennie and Juventus in Group H action, though appears increasingly likely that McKennie will be leaving the Italian giants before the summer transfer window closes.
Sergiño Dest and Barcelona will do battle with Chris Richards and Bayern Munich in Group E, though it remains to be seen if Richards will stay put with the German champions or depart on loan or via transfer before next week’s transfer deadline. Fellow American Taylor Booth recently made his first-team debut for Bayern, but is considered a long-shot to make Bayern’s Champions League roster.
Gio Reyna may have received the most favorable draw among American players, with his Borussia Dortmund side placed into Group C along with Sporting CP, Ajax and Besiktas, a group Dortmund will be favored to win.
Jordan Pefok and David Wagner will lead Swiss champion BSC Young Boys into Group F, where they will meet a strong trio of opponents in Villarreal, Manchester United and Atalanta.
The UEFA Champions League group stage begins on September 14-15.
Here are the eight UEFA Champions League groups:
GROUP A – Manchester City, PSG, RB Leipzig, Club Brugge
GROUP B – Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, FC Porto, AC Milan
GROUP C – Sporting CP, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Besiktas
GROUP D – Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sheriff Tiraspol
GROUP E – Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Benfica, Dynamo Kiev
GROUP F – Villarreal, Manchester United, Atalanta, BSC Young Boys
GROUP G – Lille, Sevilla, Red Bull Salzburg, Wolfsburg
GROUP H – Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit St. Petersburg, Malmo FF