UP FOR THE CUP: USMNT Domestic Cup TrackerUSMNT players are on clubs that will be involved in seven domestic cup finals in April and May
Players across the U.S. Men’s National Team pool have made tremendous strides during the current European club season. From a record number of players taking part in the UEFA Champions League to regular involvement in variety of top-flight leagues across the continent every week, there has never been a better moment for U.S. players abroad.
As European campaigns wind down and championships are being decided, one thing to keep an eye on is the number of USMNT players still involved in the late stages of their different domestic cup competitions. The USMNT is guaranteed to have players on clubs taking part in seven different domestic cup finals in Austria, Belgium, England (FA Cup and EFL Cup), Germany, Italy and Spain.
To get you prepped for all the potential trophy lifts, ussoccer.com put together our Domestic Cup Tracker to show the paths each player has taken and put into context the historic nature of having so many involved this deep in their respective tournaments.
Before we break it down by competition, here is the complete schedule for players still alive in the tournaments. A number of players have already booked their place in a Final; in the English FA Cup and German DFB Pokal, because two players are facing each other in a semifinal, we know there will be at least one eligible for a championship match.
ENGLISH FA CUP
USMNT forward Christian Pulisic will take part in the English FA Cup Final for a second-straight year after he and Chelsea defeated U.S. teammate Zack Steffen and Manchester City 1-0 in the semifinal on April 17 at Wembley Stadium.
Steffen started the match, while Pulisic came off the bench in the 70th minute to help close out the victory and actually scored on the USMNT goalkeeper late only to have the goal called back for offside.
Pulisic and Chelsea will return to Wembley to take on Leicester City in the FA Cup Final on May 15 (12:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+)
The return to Wembley offers a chance at redemption for Pulisic and Chelsea after they fell 2-1 to Arsenal in the 2019-20 FA Cup Final last summer. Pulisic started the match fantastically, with his fifth minute goal making him the first American to score in the FA Cup Final. A hamstring injury suffered early in the second half forced the U.S. attacker out and Arsenal went on to win.
Eight-time winners Chelsea will take part in their 15th English FA Cup Final, good enough for third all-time after only Arsenal and Manchester United. Their May 15 visit to Wembley will also be their fourth final appearance in five seasons.
PREVIOUS USMNT WINNERS
Tim Howard is the only USMNT player to play in an English FA Cup Final and win it, lifting the trophy with Manchester United in 2004.
In 1993, John Harkes (Sheffield Wednesday) became the first USMNT player to appear in the FA Cup Final, playing to a 1-1 draw with Arsenal before a replay five days later saw the Gunners take a 2-1 victory.
Five years after winning the FA Cup with Man United, Tim Howard again appeared in the Final for Everton who fell 2-1 to Chelsea in the 2009 edition.
Spanish Copa del Rey
Having already hit a number of firsts for U.S. players in Spain this season, full back Sergiño Dest became the first U.S. player to win the Spanish Copa del Rey Final, playing 74 minutes in Barcelona's 4-0 rout of Athletic Bilbalo at Estadio de La Cartuja in Sevilla on April 17. With the win, Dest helped Barcelona claim its Spanish-record 31st Copa del Rey title.
Looking to reclaim the crown it last won in 2018 wasn’t an easy task for Barça, as the club has required extra time in three of its four rounds on the way to Final.
While neither Dest or U.S. and Barcelona teammate Konrad de la Fuente were involved in every match during the cup run, they both played a part.
De la Fuente came off the bench to help Barça secure a 2-0 extra time win against Segunda B side Cornellà in the Third Round on Jan. 21.
Meanwhile, Dest made three appearances, entering as a sub to help push Barça to and incredible 5-3 comeback win in extra time against Granada in the quarterfinal on Feb. 3. Injury forced him to miss the 2-0 semifinal first leg defeat at Sevilla on Feb. 10, but he came back for the return fixture, starting and playing 63 minutes as Barcelona overturned the deficit in extra time, winning 3-2 on aggregate.
Dest then of course played 74 minutes to help Barcelona defeat Athletic Bilbao in the Final on April 17.
PREVIOUS USMNT WINNERS
Sergiño Dest became the first USMNT player to win Copa del Rey, playing 74 minutes in the 4-0 win against Athletic Bilbao on April 17.
English Football League Cup
One week after falling 1-0 to Pulisic and Chelsea in the the FA Cup Semifinal, Zack Steffen returned to Wembley Stadium and made amends in the Carabao Cup Final. The Downingtown, Pa., product became the fourth different USMNT player to appear in and win England’s League Cup Final, backstopping Manchester City to a 1-0 victory against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, April 25.
Without much to do for most of the match, Steffen was brilliant when called upon, making a crucial diving stop on Giovani Lo Celso's 47th minute effort to preserve his clean sheet.
As City’s “Cup Goalkeeper”, Steffen saw action in each of the club’s five League Cup matches. The first-choice USMNT ‘keeper actually made his competitive debut for City in the competition, backstopping the club to a 2-1 victory against Bournemouth in the third round on Sept. 24.
Steffen collected three clean sheets along the way, including the shutout in a 2-0 away win at Manchester United in the semifinal on Jan. 6. In that match the 26-year-old ‘keeper was called on to make two stops, including an impressive diving save to keep things level in the ninth minute.
Man City has absolutely owned this competition of late. This year's win is its fourth-straight League Cup title and they have appeared in five of the last seven finals – winning each of them.
PREVIOUS USMNT WINNERS
Just as he was the first USMNT player to appear in the FA Cup Final, John Harkes was also the first to appear in and win the League Cup Final. In the 1991 Final, the future USMNT captain helped Second Division Sheffield Wednesday upset Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley. He’d make more history in the competition two years later…
Kasey Keller became the second USMNT player to win it in 1997, backstopping Leicester City to a 1-1 draw at Wembley before a 1-0 extra time victory in the replay 10 days later at Hillsborough Stadium. Keller made two big saves to keep things scoreless before teammate Steve Claridge scored the 100th minute winner.
Five years after his fellow USMNT ‘keeper lifted the trophy, Brad Friedel became the third U.S. player to do it, helping Blackburn Rovers to a 2-1 victory against Tottenham Hotspur – who had Keller on the bench in reserve -- in the 2002 final. Friedel made a couple dazzling saves en route to winning Man of the Match honors.
Each of the three previous winners have also been on the losing side in the League Cup Final:
Returning to Wembley in 1993, Harkes became the first USMNT player to score in the League Cup Final, providing Sheffield Wednesday with an eighth minute goal only to see Arsenal overturn it and run out 2-1 winners.
Similarly, Kasey Keller returned two years after Leicester City’s triumph for the 1999 Final against Tottenham Hotspur. Just as it looked like the match would head to extra time, a 90th minute goal from Allan Nielsen gave Spurs the 1-0 victory.
Friedel returned to the final in 2010 with Aston Villa facing Manchester United. The Villans ran out to an early lead through James Milner’s fifth minute penalty kick, but United used goals from Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney to earn that year’s title.
In the midst of his first season with Jupiler League side Genk, 22-year-old center back Mark McKenzie became the first USMNT player to appear in and win the Belgian Croky Cup Final, coming on as an 87th minute substitute to help Genk hold on to a 2-1 result against Standard Liege at King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on April 25.
While not an outright starter, McKenzie has found steady playing time for Genk since joining from the Philadelphia Union in January. The 22-year-old center back made three appearances in the club’s Cup run, including a 90-minute runout in the 1-0 victory against Sint Truiden in the Round of 16 on Feb. 10.
WATCH: Mark McKenzie Vlog Before the Belgian Cup Semifinal
During the semifinal, first-choice center back Jhon Lucumi was sent off in the 71st minute and McKenzie was brought on to shore up the backline for the final 17 minutes, helping Genk to a 2-1 win against an Anderlecht side featuring USMNT teammate Matt Miazga.
McKenzie was the only substitute used by Genk manager John van den Brom in Sunday's final, entering the match in the 87th minute to shore up the defense moments after Liege pulled a goal back from Jackson Muleka.
PREVIOUS USMNT WINNERS
Mark McKenzie is the first USMNT player to play in and win the Belgian Cup Final.
Former USMNT center back Oguchi Onyewu was part of the La Louviere squad that won the 2003 Final, but did not appear in the match.
GERMAN DFB POKAL
At the semifinal stage, three USMNT players are still involved with three different clubs in the DFB Pokal. Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen) and Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) will face off in the first semifinal on Friday, April 30 at the Weser Stadion in Bremen (2:30 p.m. ET; ESPNews, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3). The following day, Gio Reyna and Borussia Dortmund will host Cinderella side Holstein Kiel at Signal Iduna Park (2:30 p.m. ET; ESPNews, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3).
Both Sargent and Adams have been instrumental in their respective club’s runs, appearing in each of the four matches played. Sargent in particular has been huge for Bremen, providing two goals and an assist along the way. Adams has started three of his four appearances and will look to play in his second DFB Pokal Final after appearing in the 2019 edition with Leipzig.
On the other side of the bracket, Gio Reyna has played in three of four matches for Dortmund and scored in the 5-0 victory against Duisburg in the first round back on Sept. 14. Reyna memorably scored his first professional goal during last year’s competition, curling home a dazzling strike in the 3-2 Round of 16 defeat to Bremen on Feb. 4, 2020.
Already guaranteed to have one USMNT player there, should Reyna and Dortmund get through an American would be guaranteed to lift the German Cup this year.
PREVIOUS USMNT WINNERS
Though he hadn’t yet played for the USMNT, future captain Thomas Dooley (below) was the first U.S. player to win the DFB Pokal, playing 90 minutes to help Kaiserslautern to a 3-2 victory against Werder Bremen in the 1990 Final. Dooley debuted for the USA two years later, going on to earn 81 caps and play at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups.
A full 27 years later, Christian Pulisic became the second USMNT player to lift the prestigious trophy, and at 18 the youngest to win a domestic cup title in Europe. Pulisic came off the bench to start the second half and earned the game-winning penalty kick as Dortmund defeated Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2017 Final.
Once capped USMNT goalkeeper David Yelldell became the second American to appear in the DFB Pokal Final, but couldn’t have enjoyed it much. The backstop for Duisburg in the 2011 edition, Yelldell was the unfortunate recipient of a 5-0 defeat to Schalke. Yelldell earned his lone cap for the USA two months earlier, playing the second half of a 1-0 friendly defeat to Paraguay on March 29, 2011 in Nashville.
The 2017 Final was also the first to have two U.S. players appear on either side. While Pulisic was the victory, former USMNT right back Timmy Chandler started and played 72 minutes for runners up Eintracht Frankfurt.
Most recently, Tyler Adams returned from injury to appear for RB Leipzig in the 2019 Final, a 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.
ÖFB AUSTRIAN CUP
Since joining Red Bull Salzburg from the Philadelphia Union in January, Brenden Aaronson has been key in helping the Austrian giants stay on top of the Bundesliga while also navigating their way to the ÖFB Cup Final against LASK Linz on Saturday, May 1 at the Wörthersee Stadion in Klagenfurt (2:30 p.m. ET).
Aaronson has appeared in each of the two cup matches since arriving in Salzburg, coming off the bench to secure a 2-0 quarterfinal victory against Austria Wien on Feb. 6 before playing the full 90 minutes and scoring the final goal in a 4-0 semifinal thrashing of Sturm Graz on March 3.
The 20-year-old midfielder is aiming to become the first USMNT player to play in the ÖFB Cup Final and he’d be doing it for a club that has been incredibly dominant in the competition. Salzburg has appeared in eight of the last nine finals, winning seven of them.
PREVIOUS USMNT WINNERS
DEEPEST INVOLVEMENT IN COMPETITION
Prior to Aaronson’s semifinal appearance in March, former USMNT forward Terrence Boyd had progressed deepest in the competition, playing for Rapid Wien in a 1-0 quarterfinal defeat to FC Pasching in 2013.
Having already lifted the Italian Super Cup in January, USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie will try to earn another trophy when Juventus faces Atalanta in the Coppa Italia Final on Saturday, May 19 at the Mapei Stadium in Reggio. If Juventus are victorious, McKennie would become the first American to lift the Coppa Italia.
The 22-year-old has already put out a strong body of work during his first season in Italy, serving as a constant in the Juventus midfield while already becoming the all-time leading scorer among U.S. players in Serie A (five goals).
The Little Elm, Texas, product has played in three of Juve’s four cup matches this season, including both legs of the semifinal where the Bianconeri outlasted Inter Milan 2-1 on aggregate. Already battling Atalanta for a Champions League berth, recent history suggests the match could be tight as the two sides have played to draws in four of their last six contests.
PREVIOUS USMNT WINNERS
Just the second USMNT player to appear in Serie A, midfielder Michael Bradley became the first to play in the Coppa Italia Final. The then 25-year-old started and played the full 90 minutes for Roma as they fell 1-0 to bitter rivals Lazio in the 2013 Final at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.