Bernard Rymann will get his fountain pen in Indianapolis on Thursday and write the history of the sport in red, white and red with his signature performance. For the first time in nearly 38 years, the Austrian will participate in the MLS National Football League next season. The 24-year-old Central Michigan-only student was recruited into the NFL by the Indianapolis Colts in March, making him the fourth Austrian to achieve the feat.
In 1972, former NFL player Tony Fritsch won the Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys, although he did not play in the final. Raymond “Ray” Wershing succeeded again with the San Francisco 49ers in 1982 and 1985. In 1987, the immigrant son of Mondsey was played the last NFL game by an Austrian player. Tony Lienhart was third in the Austrian NFL League. Born in Styria, he played for the Baltimore Colts, who moved to Indianapolis in 1984, where Rayman would begin his NFL career.
Now Raimann is not the only Austrian athlete whose dream of a professional career has come true in the USA. Some Burgenland natives have also made a name for themselves in other sports and in the American Leagues. Below is an overview of some of the active members currently participating.
National Hockey League: Vorarlberger Marco Rossi was picked by Minnesota Wild as ninth in the draft in the summer of 2020 and awarded a junior contract in October. In preparation for the 2020/21 season, the 20-year-old attended Wilde’s training camp in January 2021, but soon retired injured and contracted with Covid-19. On the Minnesota farm team Iowa Wild, he grew to become the top scorer with 16 goals and 26 assists in 42 games and celebrated his NHL debut with Minnesota Wild on Epiphany 2022. After two games, he returned to the farm team. In March, Rossi was voted Austria’s best player. Apart from him, his only compatriot Michael Raffel is an active player in the National Hockey League. He’s been a free agent for the Dallas Stars since 2021.
National Basketball League: Jacob Boltel is the first Austrian to enter the NBA. Wiener was drafted ninth overall by the Toronto Raptors on June 23, 2016. After a successful prep stage, he made his NBA game debut on October 26, where he immediately managed a dunk game. In his first season, Pöltl played a total of 54 games with 626 minutes of playing time. His contract with the Toronto Raptors ran until the 2018/19 season with two team options until July 2019 and 2020 and then an eligible offer as a free agent. In July 2018, he moved to the San Antonio Spurs after swapping the contract. Pöltl is currently playing the season of his life in Texas. In 68 matches he averaged 13.5 points. This is a significant increase compared to previous years. He had just 8.6 points last season and only 3.1 in his NBA debut with the Raptors.
Major League Soccer: He played 32 games with SK Rapid in the 2020/21 season, scoring 15 goals, to be ranked fourth in the league and the best scorer for his team. The following year, Erkan Kara equaled his goal tally in the previous season of nine goals in 17 games when he left Rapid for Orlando City in the United States in January 2022. His contract with the major football club from Florida runs until December 2024. In April, Kara scored For Orlando City for the first time against Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew.
In addition to Ercan Kara, there is currently only one other Austrian who is active in the Major League Soccer, and that is Ismail Tagouri, who was born in Libya. The midfielder moved from Wiener Austria to FC New York City in 2018 and has been under contract with LA since December 2021. His record in the United States is rather poor as he scored two goals in four years.
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