by JACK HAZZARD
The top tier of Americans in Germany — Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson — play in the country’s top division, the Bundesliga. Another group, which includes Andrew Wooten, Russell Canouse and Julian Green, toil in the 2.Bundesliga.
But when it comes to the third tier, the 3.Liga, most of the players are household names in only their own households. They garner limited media attention in the United States but continue to play on.
There are currently eight American players — and one coach — in the 3.Liga: two former U.S. internationals, one New York Red Bull product, and a U.S. soldier’s son are among the group. (Reference to standings is before games of March 15.)
Club: Sonnenhof Großaspach
Born in Stuttgart to a German mother and father in the U.S. military, and capped once by the U.S., Yelldell has spent the bulk of his 15-year professional career playing in Germany’s top three leagues. He also has played for Blackburn Rovers, Brighton & Hove Albion, Duisburg, and Bayer Leverkusen.
Yelldell’s current club is in 10th place, only four points from potential promotion.
Since arriving at the beginning of the season, Yelldell has made six appearances, but is currently nursing an injury and is sidelined for now.
Club: Holstein Kiel
Kronholm is the personification of a soccer journeyman — he has played for 12 clubs during his 1o-year professional career. A Wolfsburg product, Kronholm was born in Fort Belvoir, Va., but is a German citizen who has played mostly in the country’s lower divisions.
He has made 57 appearances for Holstein Kiel since his arrival in 2014. The team is currently in sixth place in the league.
Position: Defensive midfielder
Born in Fort Irwin, Calif., Fennell has spent his entire professional career in Germany. A product of the Stuttgart Kickers, he made his professional debut for the club’s reserve side in 2009. He went on to play a few games for the club’s first and second teams, eventually moving to the Wuzbruger Kickers and then Hallescher.
Fennell has represented the U.S. on the youth level. In 2011, U-23 Coach Caleb Porter invited Fennell to participate in several camps, eventually handing the defender his first cap. Fennell’s international career was short circuited when Stuttgart Kickers refused to release him.
Since joining Hallescher at the start of the season, Fennell has played 21 matches and scored 4 goals. The club is in seventh place.
Barry has traveled the globe — he was born in Flordia and played in college at the University of Virginia, where he earned a spot in the ACC All-Freshmen Team.
After college, he played three matches for a USL Premier Development side before joining the second division Austrian team Linz, where he spent five years and played in more than 100 matches. He joined Frankfurt in 2015. Since then he has played in 41 matches and scored 2 goals.
Frankfurt is currently in the relegation zone, 18th in the 20-team league.
Club: Sonnenhof Großaspach
Gyau, a Florida native, has the potential to be special. He is attempting to rebuilt his career in Germany’s lower divisions after sustaining a horrific knee injury.
Having spent time with Bundesliga clubs Hoffenheim, St. Pauli and Borussia Dortmund, Gyau earned admirers during his time in Germany, including the former coach of the U.S. senior national team, Jurgen Klinsmann.
He debuted for the U.S. team in 2014 against the Czech Republic, and was tipped as the next new thing. But he sustained a tear in a lateral meniscus during his second outing with the national team.
Needing a fresh new start, Gyau joined Sonnenhof Großaspach in 2017. This season he has made seven appearances for the mid-table club.
Drafted by the Columbus Crew in 2015, the St. Louis University alum elected to join Serie B side Spezia of Italy after the draft. Kristo was born in Bosnia and is part of a substantial number of refugees from the Balkan War to settle in the St. Louis area.
Unable to break into Spezia’s first team, Kristo was loaned to lower tier sides Fidelis Andria and Tutocuoio, where he played in 19 games and scored 2 goals.
After the 2016 season, Kristo moved Osnabrück, linking up with the American manager Joe Enochs. He has made 15 appearances this season and scored 1 goal. The club is currently in eighth place.
Club: Sonnenhof Großaspach
Born in North Hollywood, Calif., Rodriguez is a product of the Los Angeles Galaxy’s and IMG academys.
After time in the U-17 residency camp, Rodriguez signed with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Unable to crack the first team, he spent three years with the ‘Gladbach’s reserve team. He moved on to 2.Bundesliga side Dynamo Dresden, but was sent on loan to Chemnitzer and then SG Sonnenhof Großaspach.
Rodriguez has made seven appearances for SG, scoring one goal this season.
Corboz was signed in December 2015 by New York Red Bulls as a homegrown player. He was born in Mobile, Ala., to French parents and has dual citizenship. He was waived by the Red Bulls, landing with the Wilmington Hammerheads of the USL, playing played in 14 matches in 2016.
He made the switch to MSV Duisburg, which is currently in first place, last August, making his debut for the club in a Lower Rhine Cup match against Solingen a few days after his arrival.
Enochs, a former United States international, played most of his professional career with the club he’s now coaching. The California native joined Osnabrück in 1996 playing in 359 matches and scoring 10 goals over 12 years.