From the German third division to America

Six months ago Kai Wagner was playing for the Wurzburger Kickers, and couldn’t imagine he would play in a country’s top-flight so soon.

German defender Kai Wagner started his professional career in 2015 with SSV Ulm 1846 in the Regionalliga Sudwest (fourth division) in his native country.

Then he moved the next year to the Oberliga Westfalen (fifth division) with Schalke 04 II.

And it was in 2017 when he started playing for the Wurzburger Kickers in the third division.

His talent has boosted him to the best level, but he never imagined he would be starting 2019 in the United States top-flight: the MLS with the Philadelphia Union.

“When you’re from Germany, you don’t think of going to MLS at first,” Wagner told Pro Soccer USA.

“But I think now some German players are talking a lot about Philadelphia and MLS.”

He explained: “It’s a good step and for me, it was a great opportunity to hear that they want to have me, and I didn’t have to think about it.”

“I think when you see the statistics from the defenders, I think we had a good game.”

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“We had a lot of blocks and we had a very good defensive shape and it was a very good performance.”

“For an unknown coming from the lower leagues in Germany to step up and have the season that he’s had is very impressive,” Union coach Jim Curtin said.

“I think he’s been a top left back in our league.”

“[Wagner]’s a guy who it’s embarrassing that he isn’t on the All-Star ballot, but at the same time is in those conversations for someone who has been playing at that level,” Curtin said.

“I think you could say that for a lot of our guys that won’t get recognized with honors like that for a first-place team.”