There’s something of a great migration currently taking place among American youth prospects. Where England was once the de facto point of disembarkation for the best and brightest young Americans looking abroad, Germany’s spent the last two years usurping that title.
For as long as most of us can remember, southwest London club Fulham was the nexus of that English-American fusion. Now it certainly looks as though Schalke is taking that title and running with it.
Schalke has no American first teamers at the moment (although it’s the former longtime home of Jermaine Jones), but its youth setup is teeming with U.S. internationals. Haji Wright moved there from the New York Cosmos as soon as he turned 18 earlier this year. It looks increasingly likely FC Dallas super-prospect Weston McKennie will officially join him the minute he turns 18 this month. And Nick Taitague, who’s quietly become one of the most technical midfielders in the American setup, is also rumored to have attracted Schalke’s interest. And that’s to say nothing of Haji’s brother Hanif, who could join once he turns 18.
That’s all well and good until you see them on the field. Oh. What’s that? McKennie, Wright and Taitague all played together for the Schalke U19s in a recent match? And they were all involved on a goal build-up?
Right. I suppose it’s time to start paying attention to Schalke, eh?
This was from Schalke’s opening match against Manchester City at the EVONIK Ruhr Cup, an international U19 tournament featuring some of the biggest clubs in the world (we’re talking Real Madrid, Benfica, Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund). Wright’s goal here involved Taitague, who provided the pass that opened the attack, all while McKennie lurked in the background with the captain’s armband strapped around his bicep. Oh, and Wright’s goal came in an eventual win over one of the most loaded academies in the world.
Wright is, for the moment, the only one of the three who appears to be an official Schalke player under contract. McKennie has been involved in a back and forth is-he-or-isn’t-he affair as to whether he’s leading FC Dallas or not, and even less is known about Taitague, who most recently signed an amateur contract with the Carolina RailHawks.
Still, this visual evidence from a week ago doesn’t tell lies.
Nick Taitague & Weston Mckennie (both 17) pictured here training with Schalke’s U19’s in last weekend’s friendly pic.twitter.com/U1JpvTTYwQ
— Baby Nats Abroad (@BabyNatsAbroad) July 24, 2016
In lieu of an EU passport, which he doesn’t have, McKennie may well just be biding his time in Germany until he turns 18 on Aug. 28. Then the ink can dry officially. Taitague’s status is more unclear. He doesn’t turn 18 until February, so he may just be guest playing until then. We’ll have to wait and see.
Either way, Fulhamerica is dead. Long live Schalkamerica.