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USA stars in European football: Chelsea's Pulišić claims glory

Christian Pulišić has become the first American to appear in a European Cup final after coming on as a substitute in Chelsea's victory against Manchester City in Porto.

Christian Pulišić with the trophy after Chelsea's UEFA Champions League triumph in Porto
Christian Pulišić with the trophy after Chelsea's UEFA Champions League triumph in Porto Chelsea FC via Getty Images

A small slice of American soccer history was been made in Porto as Christian Pulišić has become the first player from the United States to appear in a UEFA Champions League final having come on as a substitute as his Chelsea team beat Manchester City.

Winger Pulišić replaced Timo Werner midway through the second half at the end of a season in which he has become the American with the most UEFA club competition appearances and also moved closer to the goalscoring record. His United States team-mate Zack Steffen, meanwhile, was on Manchester City's bench as goalkeeping back-up for Ederson.

That meant that, for the first time, a US national figured in the final matchday squad of a UEFA Champions League or European Champion Clubs' Cup winner, with Pulišić the first American to appear in the final. The best effort previously was by Jovan Kirovski, who appeared twice during Borussia Dortmund's run to glory in 1996/97 but was not involved in their 16-man squad for the final against Juventus.

Pulišić celebrates with the Chelsea fans
Pulišić celebrates with the Chelsea fansUEFA via Getty Images

Such an achievement has occurred in women's football, where Alex Krieger, Gina Lewandowski and Alex Morgan have won UEFA club finals. We look at the facts and stats relating to Americans in European competition.

Most appearances by US nationals in European Champion Clubs' Cup/UEFA Champions League (including qualifying)
36: Christian Pulišić (Dortmund, Chelsea)
27=
DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven, Rangers)
27= Jermaine Jones (Leverkusen, Schalke)
20: Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)
17: Claudio Reyna (Rangers)

Top-scoring US nationals in European Champion Clubs' Cup/UEFA Champions League (including qualifying)
6: DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven, Rangers)
5: Christian Pulišić (Dortmund, Chelsea)
3: Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)
2= Brian Gerzicich (Hapoel Kiryat Shmona)
2= Fabian Johnson (Wolfsburg, Mönchengladbach)
2= Jermaine Jones (Leverkusen, Schalke)
2= Weston McKinnie (Schalke, Juventus)

American Champions League goalscorers
American Champions League goalscorers

Most appearances by US nationals in men's UEFA club competition*
43: Christian Pulišić (Dortmund, Chelsea)
40=
Brad Friedel (Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa, Tottenham)
40= Tim Howard (Manchester United, Everton)
39: Jermaine Jones (Leverkusen, Schalke)
37: Oguchi Onyewu (La Louvière, Standard Liége, Twente, Sporting CP, Málaga)
34: Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)

Top-scoring US nationals in men's UEFA club competition*
7: Clint Dempsey (Fulham, Tottenham)
6: DaMarcus Beasley (PSV Eindhoven, Rangers)
5: Christian Pulišić (Dortmund, Chelsea)
4= Jozy Altidore (Villarreal, AZ Alkmaar)
4= Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)
3= Jermaine Jones (Leverkusen, Schalke)
3= Oguchi Onyewu (La Louvière, Standard Liége, Twente, Sporting CP, Málaga)

Most appearances by US nationals in women's UEFA club competition
34:
Gina Lewandowski (FFC Frankfurt, Bayern)
22: Janelle Cordia (Fortuna Hjørring, Fiorentina)
17: Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt, Tyresö)
15: Christen Press (Göteborg, Tyresö)
13: Ella Masar (Rosengård, Wolfsburg)

Top-scoring US nationals in women's UEFA club competition
12:
Christen Press (Göteborg, Tyresö)
7: Sinead Farrelly (Apollon)
5: Sam Mewis (Manchester City)
4= Regina Holan (Sparta Praha)
4= Sarah Huffman (Røa)
4= Jennifer Benson (Energy Voronezh)
4= Catherine Walker (PK-35 Vantaa)

 Christen Press's goals helped Tyresö to the 2014 UEFA Women's ChampionsLeague final
Christen Press's goals helped Tyresö to the 2014 UEFA Women's ChampionsLeague finalGetty Images

First US national to play in UEFA club competition: Gyula Visnyei
14/09/76: Lierse 1-0 Hajduk Split (European Cup Winners' Cup, first round first leg)

Having defected from his native Hungary aged 18, Visnyei returned to Europe after a spell in America to play for Lierse and Standard Liège (with whom he also became the first US national to feature in the UEFA Cup in 1977/78). Later, as 'Juli Veee', he was a 1980s US indoor soccer star with the New York Arrows, San Diego Sockers and Las Vegas Americans. He also scored twice in four USA appearances from 1976–82.

First US national to play in European Cup: Steve Trittschuh 
03/10/90: Spartak Moskva 2-0 Sparta Praha (first round first leg)

The opportunity of European Cup football persuaded the Illinois-born defender – then 25 – to join Sparta after playing for USA against Czechoslovakia at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. "I always wanted to play in Europe," he said of his one season in Prague, in which he won the league title. "It was a great experience and I learned a great deal about being a professional."

First US national to play in UEFA Champions League: Jovan Kirovski 
16/10/96: Atlético de Madrid 0-1 Borussia Dortmund (group stage)

Born in California to North Macedonian parents, Kirovski was a Manchester United trainee before making his name at Dortmund, figuring in their 1996/97 UEFA Champions League-winning campaign, albeit not the final. The 62-times capped USA forward made more history by becoming the first US national to play in the UEFA Super Cup, as Dortmund lost 2-0 to Barcelona in the 1997 edition.

Clint Dempsey reached the 2010 final with Fulham
Clint Dempsey reached the 2010 final with Fulham©Getty Images

First US national to appear in major UEFA men's final: Clint Dempsey
12/05/10: Atlético Madrid 2-1aet Fulham (UEFA Europa League final, Hamburg)

Signed from New England Revolution in 2006, the Texan striker played 275 matches for Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur. His stunning chip against Juventus in the round of 16 may have been the highlight of his 2009/10 UEFA Europa League adventure, though he also replaced Bobby Zamora 55 minutes into the final to break new ground for US players.

First US national to appear in major UEFA women's final: Stacey Peterson
09/06/03: Umeå 4-1 Fortuna Hjørring
21/06/03: Fortuna Hjørring 0-3 Umeå (UEFA Women's Cup final)

Long before Dempsey made the UEFA Europa League final with Fulham, forward Peterson had set a precedent for US disappointment in UEFA showpieces, appearing in both legs of Danish club Hjørring's 2003 UEFA Women's Cup final loss. Compatriot Venus James had a similar sinking feeling in the two-legged 2005 decider, her Djurgården side losing 5-1 on aggregate to Turbine Potsdam.

First US nationals to win UEFA competition: Alex Krieger, Gina Lewandowski
17/05/08: Umeå 1-1 FFC Frankfurt
24/05/08: FFC Frankfurt 3-2 Umeå (UEFA Women's Cup final)

Virginian Krieger and Pennsylvanian Lewandowski moved to Frankfurt in summer 2007, completing a league, German Cup and UEFA Women's Cup treble in their first term. "For both of us it was a huge advantage, because we could speak English together," Lewandowski said. Compatriot Alex Morgan matched their exploits when helping Lyon win the 2017 UEFA Women's Champions League.

Jesse Marsch gives instructions at Salzburg
Jesse Marsch gives instructions at Salzburg©AFP/Getty Images

First US national to coach in UEFA Champions League: Jesse Marsch
17/09/19: Salzburg v Genk

Carrie Kveton (Fortuna Hjørring) and Ahron Thode (Brøndby) both coached in the UEFA Women's Champions League before Marsch debuted as coach of Salzburg in the 2019 men's group stage; indeed, Marsch still remains the highest-profile US achiever in UEFA coaching. The former Chicago Fire and Chivas midfielder thrived during his first term in Austria after a campaign as assistant at Leipzig – where he will return as head coach next season.

*UEFA club competitions means European Champion Clubs' Cup/UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League, European/South American Cup, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Super Cup and UEFA Intertoto Cup