TThree years ago, the US men’s team watched the World Cup on television instead of playing in the World Cup. But with the 2022 edition, things seem much more encouraging. Christian Pulisic’s consecutive victories in the Champions League and Conca Cafations League finals symbolize the team’s resurgence. But he is not alone. Alongside him are Giovanni Reyna, Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest. All of these play in some of the best clubs in the world. This kind of success in Europe was unprecedented for Americans only five years ago, before Pulisic established himself as a young phenomenon in Borussia Dortmund.
But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Americans lift the most coveted trophy in club football, and it’s not the first time Dortmund has helped American footballers enter the European competition.
Kirovski was part of Dortmund’s winning 1997-98 Champions League campaign, but unlike Pulisic, he didn’t play in the finals. And both Kirowski and Pulisic, whose grandfather was born in Croatia, had family ties to Europe.
“My parents came here from Macedonia, so returning to Europe at the age of 16 when I was educated was a big step for me. [that] I would have paid … but they supported me. I was very fortunate to be successful and then build a career and build a career after playing, “said Kirovski, technical director of the Los Angeles Galaxy.
He knew that immigrating to Europe at such a young age was gambling, especially since American soccer players at the time were considered strange at best.
“At that time, there weren’t many Americans abroad, so I always say,” Americans don’t play soccer. They play soccer, baseball, and basketball. ” Now there are more and more Americans out there, “he says.
It’s a testament to Kirovski’s talent that Manchester United was good enough to sign him as a teenager. However, his work permit issues prevented him from progressing to his first team, and he moved to Dortmund in 1996. But in the end, things happen for a reason, “he says.
Kirovski later told the LA Times that it was “a difficult task to make a final roster” in Dortmund. His time in Europe ended in 2004 in Birmingham City after playing 23 times in the Premier League’s 1.5 season. team. After that, Kirovski was successful in MLS and won two titles in the Galaxy, but even when he retired in 2011, his experience in Europe was valuable.
Kirovski was appointed Technical Director of the Galaxy in 2013 and won the MLS Cup a year later. The knowledge and contacts he built while in Europe helped him secure a few prominent players and culminated in his 2018 contract with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Kirovski is committed to leading the Galaxy towards the sixth MLS Cup, but is watching how a new generation of European US players are behaving. However, the 45-year-old avoids saying that he paved the way for Pulisic’s success.
“I don’t know if I say that,” Kirowski said. “I think it’s great for the sport in this country to play in the finals, play in big clubs and win the Champions League. Not only him, but Juventus McKennie and other players are climbing. You can see that. [Tyler] Adams in Leipzig. I think it’s great for sports, and I think it’s great for everyone here in American football. “
Kirovski meets Pulisic during his visit to Dortmund and is optimistic about the Americans eventually surpassing Pulisic and scoring in the Champions League final.
“There was a big gap from me to the next person [American winning the Champions League].. Now that our sport is so growing, I think all these players are in big clubs and more players will come, “he says. “This is just the beginning … I think more and more players will have the opportunity to do so as Major League Soccer plays an important role. I think we had a pretty big gap, and now it’s I think it will happen, I will say, more regularly than all, what, 25, 26 years. “
Kirovski hopes that the rise of young American players will lead to success in major international tournaments. There is no shortage of talent, he says: “We are really beginning a generation of players who can take us to another level.”
Kirovski is also generally encouraged by the growing interest in football in the United States. He believes this could lead to major stars returning from Europe.
“Ultimately, they will,” he says. “When I left home, there was no MLS or league. But towards the end of my career, the league started and evolved. Always behind my head,” near my house in LA Galaxy. I always thought, “I want to play …”. The league is so growing that at some point they will want to come back and play here. “
The achievements of Kirovski, Pulisic, and all those who follow are very exciting for American football fans. But just as young Americans are inspired by their achievements, the trickle-down effect of their success is just as important. Kirowski agrees, “We can see this league grow, grow and one day become one of the top leagues in the world.”
As Kirowski knows from his personal experience, the first one is great. But so is what comes after that.