Former Young NASL Players Making Progress In Germany

Americans Haji Wright and Nick Taitague had a strong season for Schalke's youth side, spending time around the Bundesliga's first team
Matthew Levine (@NASLInsider} | Jun 8, 2017

Photo credit: FC Schalke 04

Editor's note: Haji Wright is currently on loan at SV Sandhausen in the 2.Bundesliga, where has scored one goal so far. Nick Taitague has scored twice for Schalke's U-19 side. This story originally appeared on on June 8. 

Christian Pulisic’s rise at Borussia Dortmund has, unquestionably, made him the most high-profile American player in the German ranks, but two other Americans, who both got their professional start in the NASL, are making notable progress.

FC Schalke’s Haji Wright and Nick Taitague had a strong showing with the club’s U-19 side, which finished in second place and a point behind Dortmund’s youth team, this past season. Before heading to Germany, Wright played for the New York Cosmos, while Taitague suited up for the Carolina RailHawks (now North Carolina FC).

“A lot of people see Christian Pulisic and think ‘Well, it’s easy to come here and play,’ but it’s not,” Wright told “So, yeah, I definitely have gotten some tips from him.

“At first, the adjustment moving to Germany was pretty hard because I moved here alone – different people, different language, and different culture are all hard to take in at first. But now I’m used to it, I know German pretty well, and I like the country and the people.”

Most recently, Wright was called to the bench for Schalke’s final Bundesliga game. Taitague had a substitute appearance with the first team in March, and Wright may have been in line to take part in that same friendly against Hannover, but missed out due to injury.

Getting regular minutes with the U-19 side and being on the fringes of the first team has helped the young Americans develop even further.

“It’s definitely important getting some game time,” Wright said. “Playing week in and week out against good competition is always helpful for a young player’s development. Getting experience from the first team is always helpful, especially learning from other experienced guys who have played in World Cups and won big trophies and tournaments.”

The first chance to test themselves against more experienced professionals came in the NASL. Learning alongside Spanish legend Raúl, Wright made three NASL appearances (one start) and picked up one assist on a game-winning goal in 2015. Taitague played four times during the 2016 Spring Season.

“Playing in the NASL was an important period for me - getting professional time as a young player, playing with men and adults, and learning the professional way.”

Wright added: “The NASL is definitely a good starting point to getting some professional minutes. There are a lot of games in the season with the [Open] Cup and the regular season. The high amount of games gives young players the opportunity to play, and that’s always important.”

Wright, Taitague, and fellow American Weston McKennie will continue to look to push for minutes at Schalke in the upcoming season. In the meantime, for Wright at least, he may be paying a visit to some of his former teammates soon.

“I’m keeping in touch with a couple of my old friends from my old team,” he said. “We have such a good relationship and I hope to see them soon.”

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