Friday, April 12, 2024
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USMNT’s Kevin Paredes is ‘looking forward to more challenges’ as he establishes himself at Wolfsburg

A lot has changed for Kevin Paredes this season at Wolfsburg. After moving to Germany from D.C. United during the winter of 2022, it took a while for Paredes to move into the starting XI for the German side but since he has, he shows no signs of slowing down quickly becoming a fixture for the club. . There is a rich history of Americans to play for Wolfsburg with John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and others all pulling on the jersey and Paredes has become the latest to etch his name in that history with his performances for club and country earning him the United States Soccer Young Player of the year award in 2023. 

There’s a weight that comes with following in these footsteps, but at 20, Paredes takes it in stride, which is one of many things that he talked about with CBS Sports.

“You have many greats that put on this jersey, and for me to also put on this jersey, but not just put on this jersey today, to show the trust that the club has in me to go out every Saturday and Sunday to do a job, it’s a feeling that I can’t let go.

“I have to show up every week. They trust me so I have to give that trust back, and to be able to be another American to play for this beautiful club, it’s a big honor. You said some top top great names from the country’s best and to throw myself in the mix as well, it’s a great feeling.”

It can take time for things like the weight of the club to sink in, especially coming from America to a country as seeped in soccer history as Germany, but Paredes understands the weight of the bags and the expectations that come with it which will go a long way. In Major League Soccer he was able to get by with his athleticism but going to a more technical league like Germany, Paredes has had to improve his ball control and decision-making in order to nail down a spot in the starting XI. Now, no matter if he’s asked to line up in midfield or as a wing back, he’s ready to do what he can to help the club.

In terms of what kind of player he is, and what fans should expect from him, Paredes says, “Definitely a player who shows as much passion for the game as possible. Someone that’s willing to fight to win. And lastly to show them a great time, a great game.

“In terms of my creativity, ability to take on players one vs. one or to make something out of nothing, that’s something that I want viewers to see. But the most important thing is to seize the passion as someone who’s willing to fight for their club or country, and that’s something that I want to show.”  

On the defensive side of the ball, Paredes classed Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala as the toughest player that he has had to defend against, due to his ability on the ball and speed, but this is where Paredes’ own athleticism helps him keep up with the world’s best. The connection with Bayern Munich doesn’t stop there as Paredes also got to share the pitch with Alphonso Davies as well when they went up against the German giants.

Also hailing from MLS, Davies has had a very similar path to that of Paredes, busting on the scene at a young age with Bayern Munich and becoming a dynamic defender who still becomes involved in the attack. Also representing Concacaf as one of the Canadian national team stars, there could be a moment soon when the duo become foes on the international stage as well, but for now Paredes is working to become a regular in the USMNT first team, and meeting the challenges ahead of him week in and week out will lead to that goal.

“When I was in MLS myself, and Alphonso Davies was at Bayern Munich, the times that I got to watch him when I was still in the academy, he was really a special player that I’d like to play against. And to play against him now for one of the best teams in the world in Bayern Munich, to have some conversations with him in the tunnel before the game, it’s really a cool moment for myself to see the players I grew up watching. He’s not much older than me, but [I] grew up watching [him] in the academy like that but that’s what I like to do, I like to test myself and see where I’m at.

“I feel like I’m learning every single time I step on that pitch. I’m learning and seeing what I have to do to become one of the best as well. I have a long way to go still and a lot to learn but I feel like I’m holding myself right and looking forward to more challenges.”

The Young Player of the Year award is certainly something that shows that Paredes is on the right path. He joins players like Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Yunus Musah, and others have won that honor, and it’s something that he will only grow from. Facing challenges head on both from adjusting to life in Germany at such a young age and making an impact on the pitch are direct results of his mindset, and now during a busy summer, Paredes wants to be involved in everything from Concacaf Nations League to the Paris Olympics and the Copa America.

There are plenty of playing time concerns among USMNT regulars, so Paredes can’t knows when the call may come from Gregg Berhalter. All he can do is be ready, and focus on his club form.  Wolfsburg are out of the relegation playoff by eight points, but with Union Berlin putting together form behind them, they don’t want to be dragged down.

“Definitely a player who shows as much passion for the game as possible. Someone that’s willing to fight to win. And lastly to show them a great time, a great game,” Paredes said when describing what he’d want someone’s experience to be watching him for the first time. “In terms of my creativity, ability to take on players one vs one or to make something out of nothing, that’s something that I want viewers to see. But the most important thing is to seize the passion as someone who’s willing to fight for their club or country and that’s something that I want to show.”

Those qualities alone go a long way to becoming a great soccer player which is the path that Paredes is on. There’s plenty to do to catch Davies but the seeds have been planted.

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