When the Bundesliga returned last weekend, American fans were hoping to see Wolfsburg deploy a new young weapon: Ulysses Llanez. Llanez, a 19-year-old from California, could be the latest American to star at Wolfsburg; following in the footsteps of American legends like Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna and current teammate John Brooks.
Llanez made a name for himself with Wolfsburg’s Under-19 team, scoring 11 goals and six assists in only 16 games this season. Those video game-like stats would earn him a promotion to Wolfsburg’s first team. Even before that Llanez earned an international debut against Costa Rica, swiftly slotting home a penalty-kick for the game’s lone goal.
The performance was an extension of what Llanez had been doing at the youth-level. The Californian would show his confidence when discussing his debut goal.
“It’s just a PK. I always have one spot to shoot so that’s always my spot to go,” Llanez said to Goal.com. “It was just like, ‘If I miss I miss,’ but I had a good feeling I was going to score.”
Llanez’s supreme confidence is one reason he is so highly thought of within the United States and is being discussed as a future star. His confidence has even made an impression on national team coach Gregg Berhalter.
“It’s typical he took the penalty because that’s what type of player he is. He plays with confidence. Even at the beginning of the game, he didn’t see nerves, he was going at guys one v. one, he’s getting into good spaces, he’s running behind the line. His defensive work was strong as well,” Berhalter said of Llanez’s international debut.
As a teenager, there will be growing pains before Llanez is a finished product. But, the tools to be an amazing player are there.
As a player armed with good speed and technique, fearless creativity, along with the ability to score some absolutely jaw-dropping goals, Llanez was always bound to be a star within the states.
Llanez’s former coach at LA Galaxy II in the United Soccer League (USL) described him as a “game changer.” Meanwhile his under-20 national team coach Tab Ramos simply described him as an “elite player.” Llanez has been highly thought of and progressed rapidly no matter what level he played. It was only in April 2019 that he had signed for Wolfsburg. By the end of April 2020 Llanez was one of their brightest prospects and a member of the first-team.
Now, all that’s left for Llanez is to conquer his latest challenge and cement himself within Wolfsburg’s first team and the United States’ future plans.
Americans For The Future is a series of articles that will be previewing some of the United States up and coming soccer stars. The first issue showcased Dortmund starlet Gio Reyna.