UEFA Champions League squads are starting to be published as the group stage is right around the corner. United States national team fans might have observed Tuesday that FC Barcelona‘s squad for the upcoming group games includes a goalkeeper who perhaps represents the future in net for the Stars and Stripes.
Barcelona announced that teenager Diego Kochen will form part of the Catalan club’s squad for the group stage, meaning the 17-year-old Florida native could get his first minutes for the first team in the competition this fall.
Kochen counted on
Barcelona‘s first-choice goalkeeper for the foreseeable future remains Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, who is among the best at his position in all of Europe. But Kochen is fast gaining momentum as a potential pillar for the future as he continues his rise up the ranks at Barca‘s famed academy.
Kochen was born in Miami to Peruvian and Venezuelan parents. He moved with his family to Spain in 2018 and joined La Masia, Barcelona‘s academy setup, the following year — and he signed a professional contract in March 2022. Head coach Xavi has been impressed enough with the young ‘keeper’s progress that he has been named to the bench for three of the Spanish champions’ games in LaLiga already this season.
A fight to secure Kochen’s international future
Kochen has already made a handful of appearances for the US youth team, but his senior future is still technically in the air until he debuts for the USMNT.
Peru and Venezuela could make a run at Kochen and try to change his mind as to his future international commitments. The US has a strong goalkeeping pipeline, including Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath, Chelsea‘s Gabriel Slonina, and Inter Miami‘s Drake Callender. But there’s no strong indication yet as to where Kochen is leaning, and he has a future at Barcelona to focus on in the meantime.