Borussia Dortmund’s Managing Director Carsten Cramer sat with reporters from World Soccer Talk, The Athletic, and The Daily Mail to discuss the club’s internationalization plans for the United States.

In a lengthy conversation, the well-respected and forward-thinking German executive discussed the impact of previous players Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna on merchandise sales, when Dortmund could play next in the United States, plus what makes Borussia Dortmund different than other teams.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Talk to us about Borussia Dortmund and its culture as it relates to internationalization in the United States.

Carsten Cramer: “We were the first German football club who hired an American superstar. [Christian Pulisic] when he started to play for Dortmund wasn’t a superstar. So that is part of the Dortmund DNA as well. We never would hire a superstar. We will try to build a superstar and we won’t be able to buy a Kane but we might be able to develop and educate a Bellingham.

“I would say the superstar is not [a player] wearing a shirt. Our superstar is wearing 25,000 shirts, which is The Yellow Wall, and it’s the craziness, intensity and emotion that people spend to our club.

“To experience Dortmund at its best, you have to be in Signal Iduna Park because that shows you what makes Dortmund so special.”

In the past, you’ve often prioritized Asia over North America, including this summer. Is there an opportunity to come back and play some games in the United States in the future?

Cramer: “We already played nine games in the US until now. It was our fourth tour last summer.

“Ten years ago when we started our internationalization, I never thought we would play a game against Chelsea [at Soldier Field in Chicago] where maybe 30 percent of the people were wearing black and yellow [shirts]. That’s once more a confirmation that all the investment and effort we have spent in the American Market has been sensible and efficient.

“Of course, we will come as often as possible to the US. It is helpful that we are part of [the 2025] Club World Cup, which is definitely a higher level than playing just some friendlies. But wherever we stayed in the US, whether it was Pittsburgh, San Diego, Las Vegas, Chicago, etc, the people were really attracted by us and it is a sure confirmation for us that we will play more friendlies in the US. And that the Americas are a big focus market for us.

“I am very convinced that the black and yellow story is very unique. There is no one else in black and yellow in international football.”

Borussia Dortmund and USA expansion

What have you learned about American soccer fans?

Cramer: “I would say they are interested in European football because the reputation of the supporters is still a very good one. They are becoming more interested, and definitely a younger audience than in Germany, as well as a more female audience.”

You talked about how Signal Iduna and The Yellow Wall are such a strong selling point for Dortmund for American fans who have never been there. How are you translating that to them?

Cramer: “Talk to [Co-President and Chief Business Officer] Larry Freeman at LAFC. It is no coincidence that the stand behind the goal [at LAFC’s BMO Stadium] is a standing terrace.

“The LA guys came to Dortmund to transfer some European football culture to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles ultras, and the way they celebrate, is something which reflects the Dortmund way. And I think this is a story Dortmund can bring to the people.”

What impact did Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna have on merchandise sales or kit sales, and how likely would it be that we may see another American play at Dortmund in the future?

Cramer: “I can’t promise you the next one but I can tell you that our scouting department is always interested in the US market. It’s unbelievable how many talents are growing in the US. And three years ago, we started with women’s football as well.

“It was so helpful that the first potential American superstar, Christian Pulisic, started his career in Dortmund. It was for sure helpful for the merchandising but to be really honest, the peak to benefit from the Pulisic reputation Is always reaching when he’s leaving and when he was moving to Chelsea, similar to [Erling] Haaland [when he moved to Manchester City].

“Pulisic was a big, big win.”

Photo: IMAGO / Kirchner-Media and Jan Huebner