U.S. Men’s National Team forward Ulysses Llanez took another step in his young career on Friday, making his top-flight debut in European football as a substitute in Heerenveen’s 1-1 draw with Utrecht.
After a fruitful first season in Europe playing for Wolfsburg in the U-19 German Bundesliga, the 19-year-old joined the Dutch Eredivisie side on loan earlier this month in search of first-team playing time. After a couple weeks, Llanez made the bench for the first time on Friday, replacing Arjen van der Heide in the 67th minute as he helped 10-man Heerenveen earn a valuable road point.
Part of the U.S. squad that ran to the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Llanez earned his first USMNT call-up during the team’s January Camp this year. A product of the LA Galaxy Academy, the Lynwood, Calif. native made headlines when he stepped up to convert the penalty kick in the USA’s 1-0 friendly win against Costa Rica on Feb. 1, 2020 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.
Now setting his sights on his first start, Llanez will look to follow the example of another USMNT player who launched his career with Heerenveen. Veteran USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley joined the Dutch Eredivisie side as an 18-year-old in 2006, going on to score 19 goals in 72 appearances across all competitions during his two seasons with De Superfriezen.