While Schalke’s first team had one of its best matches all season in their 4-1 win over Wolfsburg, the same couldn’t be said for the Schalke U19 squad, who fell 2-3 to Köln U19. However, the good news is that the squad is keeping up with previous years on the U19 table, often dominating opponents with ease. They stand only one point behind the Dortmund U19s on the table with 53 points through 23 matches.
This year’s squad has allowed the fewest goals in the league, and is putting nearly 2.7 goals in the back of the net per game.
American Haji Wright has been a force up front, scoring 11 goals in 21 appearances, T-3rd most in the league. The youth Royal Blues have two other Americans in the team, midfielders Nick Taitague (four appearances) and Weston McKennie (16 appearances, three goals).
Elsewhere, Germans Luke Hemmerich and Benjamin Goller have been a great presence. Both have started all 23 matches so far, scoring 14 goals combined. Goller, who specializes as a winger, is just 18 years-old, as are McKennie and Taitague. Another winger, Phil Halbauer, has great size at 6-foot-2, but has just five goals on the season.
Defensively, the U19s are led by 17 and 18-year olds, yet still are the best defensive team in the league. Lennart Czyborra, at just 17, has started 22 matches, netting two goals in the process. 18 year-old Moody Chana has led the way all season, appearing in the starting XI in every match and being a part of all 10 clean sheets. The German centre-back certainly has a future with the Schalke first team at this rate.
Timon Weiner has been reliable in goal, starting 22 of 23 games, most of which came when he was just 17. He’s made at least one appearance in his international career for each of Germany’s U15, U16, U17 and U18 squads.
One more name to look out for is Tobias Fleckstein, who is already 6-foot-2 at age 17 and has 13 appearances with eight starts. Fleckstein was in the starting XI for three consecutive Schalke clean sheets.
Unfortunately, none of these players are at the level players such as Julian Draxler, Max Meyer, Leon Goretzka and now Thilo Kehrer were at when they were teenagers. Draxler, Meyer and Goretzka were all first-team regulars by the time they were 18 or 19, and Kehrer has been one of Schalke’s best defenders at just 20 years old.
On the other hand, Schalke has had problems on the back-line for a couple years with injuries and a lack of youth players developing, aside from Kehrer and Kolasinac. With Kolasinac, an extremely good and young LB, possibly on his way to the Premier League, along with Atsudo Uchida’s injury woes, this team could use some depth. CB’s Holger Badstuber and Baba Rahman are at Schalke on loan and will both likely be gone in the summer, plus Sascha Riether and Naldo are both 34 years-old. For those reasons, I think Fleckstein, Czyborra and Chana have very good chances to be given an opportunity with the first team in the next two years.