Chris Richards has bold ambitions of breaking into Bayern Munich’s senior squad and the U.S Men’s National Team next season. The 20-year old has been with Bayern since 2018 after joining from FC Dallas and has spent the majority of his time with Bayern’s reserves in the 3. Liga this season. He missed a few matches in the beginning of the season due to an ankle injury, but he’s been a stalwart in the back line for Bayern II having started 22 matches and scoring 2 goals.
In a recent podcast interview with the Underdog Soccer Podcast (via Bundesliga.com), Richards said that he’s ready to start getting minutes with Bayern’s first team next season: “Hopefully next year I want to start getting some minutes on the field with the first team.”
Of course, Richards would have to compete with a well-equipped defense in Bayern’s senior squad, which is no easy task. He’d be competing for minutes with Niklas Sule, Jerome Boateng, David, Alaba, Lucas Hernandez, and Javi Martinez as the club’s other center backs. Hansi Flick has no shortage of options in defense, especially when everyone is fully fit, but Richards still feels he should be given his fair shot to stake his claim in the first team: “There are still center-backs here who are world class. I’m not taking anything away from them, but I think it’s time for me to start getting my shot at showing people what I have and hopefully one day becoming a Bayern legend.”
As far as the U.S Men’s National Team is concerned, Richards wants to be a part of the qualifying campaign for the next World Cup. He impressed in the U-20 World Cup last year in which the U.S Men’s U-20 side made it to the quarter-finals, when they were knocked out by Ecuador. He still hasn’t been involved in a camp for the senior national squad, but that’s something he feels he’s ready for and deserving of: “For the national team I want to be part of the team that helps in qualifying. I want to qualify for a World Cup. I definitely want to be a part of that team […] I’m getting to a point in my career where peaking into the USMNT is something I can accomplish and something I wish to accomplish. I know 2026 is where I want to be a main player for the team, but hopefully 2022 is something I can strive for and be a part of. We want to show we’re better than our past.”
It’s important to remember, too, that Richards did make some appearances for the first team during Bayern’s pre-season tour of North America in 2018, playing against PSG, Juventus, and Manchester City when Niko Kovac was manager. He knows he has the ability to play through mistakes and adapt to the level of play in the first team, regardless of whether it’s a pre-season friendly, or a competitive fixture. A level head, athleticism, and his anticipation are all traits he feels make him ready for the top level: “I bring a certain level of calmness and level-headedness. I analyse stuff before it happens. I can anticipate really well on the field, whether it’s blocking out a passing lane or spotting a ball before it happens. I’m really good at that. One thing I do really well I think is my athleticism. I’m pretty fast and I’m tall. I can jump high and go side to side. I have pretty good headers, I can chase down an attacker if I have to. I cover a lot of ground pretty quickly.”
One thing is for certain; Richards is poised and ready to make the next step. Hopefully he gets his opportunity at some point in the near future once football resumes and he’s able to give Flick a reason to give him the right chances to impress. It might become more difficult with the fact that the pre-season preparations for next season will be much shorter due to the corona crisis, but there’s no doubting Richard’s determination.