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Americans abroad

2018 Americans Abroad Silly Season Preview

Buckle up everyone. This summer looks to be a wild one for Americans abroad in the silly season window. Between Americans returning from good loans, bad loans, and others ready for a change of scenery, there could be lots of player movement ths summer. Brian Sciaretta breaks it down.  
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 01, 2018
5:00 AM
THE 2018 SUMMER “silly season” is almost here and this one promises to be a very active one for American players due to a combination of players returning from loans, players needing a change of scenery, and players who are ready for a move up.

This is not a complete list of American players but here is a rundown of players to follow this summer because their circumstances suggest a move might happen. This doesn’t include amateur players in the United States who might move this summer.

Already Moved

Kenny Saief: Anderlecht exercised the option to buy on its loan from Gent in January.
Joe Gyau: moved from SG Sonnenhof Großaspach in the 3.Liga to MSV Duisburg in the 2.Bundesliga
Alfredo Morales: Moved from Ingolstadt in the 2.Bundesliga to Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga.

Blockbuster Watch

Christian Pulisic: This will be a big one to follow as the American teenager will be linked with huge clubs this summer. A lot of it will be bogus but there will be an element of truth that he is being watched by huge clubs.

Pulisic’s father, Mark Pulisic, told Sky Sports that a lot of this talk is “hogwash” and that his son was planning to return to Dortmund for preseason. What does this mean? It means there are no concrete or serious offers yet. Of course, that could change and Pulisic is a player that many big clubs would like to have and if a move happens, it seems like the Premier League is most likely. Still the safe bet is that he returns to Dortmund to start the 2018/19 season.

Building off Successful Loans

The reason why this transfer window is guaranteed to be active for American players, in a positive way, is that five U.S. national team players are riding off the heels of successful loans and have put themselves either in a position to return to their parent club or go on loan again at a higher level.

Matt Miazga: Signed to Chelsea, Miazga is riding the momentum of two very good consecutive season-long loans to Vitesse in the Eredivisie. In Holland, he helped the club to surprising success – first the Dutch Cup in 2017 for the club’s first ever major silverware and then in 2018 in a playoff win for the league’s final Europa League spot.

Miazga, 22, will return to Chelsea to at least start preseason. However, it is hard to see him with the powerful London club next year, but it is also hard to see him returning to Vitesse for a third season. He is ready for a step up. Fortunately, his Polish passport gives him the option of playing anywhere in Europe.

So where to? This one is wide open. It is easy to see Miazga staying within the Premier League or possibly a Championship team that is a true contender for promotion and who needs a talented defender. The Bundesliga also seems like a good candidate as well. Miazga will be on the move and is ready to join a good club.

A key issue will be whether or not Chelsea is willing to include an option to buy on his loan – which the club has been reluctant to do. Without an option to buy, Miazga’s options will be limited.

Cameron Carter-Vickers: The English-born central defender had two Championship loans in 2017/18. The first loan to Sheffield United started off strong but then Carter-Vickers fell out of form. Then in January he moved to Ipswich Town where he performed well for a mid-table club that had no hopes of promotion nor any threat of being relegated.

Signed to Tottenham, it is hard to see him getting minutes for Spurs in 2018/19. He recently signed an extension with the Champions League club from London through 2021 but another loan is probably necessary to continue his development (although he will probably report to preseason with Tottenham).

While anything is possible, it is hard to see Carter-Vickers going on loan outside of England. He has a solid reputation in England and his physical style fits the game. He should have plenty of suitors but it would be ideal if a Premier League team could use him in a starting role. If not there, then another promotion contending Championship team also seems possible.

What is refreshing is that Tottenham’s front office is intent on Carter-Vickers playing. That is why it terminated his loan to Sheffield United (and it was also telling how quickly he was able to find another place to play).

Erik Palmer-Brown: One thing is clear for Palmer-Brown: the Kansas City native will not be in the plans for Manchester City. Even if he was deemed ready for its first team, securing a U.K. work permit at this moment seems highly unlikely. Last January, he went on loan to KV Kortrijk where he played regularly for a club that is typically mid-table in Belgium. It is a very safe bet he moves up a level despite Kortrijk wanting him back.

His lack of an E.U. passport restricts his options and it is hard to see Manchester City agreeing to a loan with a reasonable option to buy since his contract is less than a year old. What is likely? A solid performance with the U.S. national team next week could make interest from the Bundesliga more serious. Also possible is a move up to the upper echelons of Belgium or in the Eredivisie.

Antonee Robinson: The Everton-signed left back went on loan last season to Bolton where he helped the newly-promoted club avoid relegation out of the Championship while playing over 2,500 minutes. It was his first season at the professional level.

What is clear is that Bolton would like to have him back and he left after making a very good impression.

Unlike Palmer-Brown, Carter-Vickers, or Miazga, playing next year with his parent club is an option for Robinson as Everton have struggled at left back. Regular left back Leighton Baines, 33, was injured for a long stretch last season and a congested schedule could see Robinson earn minutes for Everton, even if he’s not a regular starter there.

But Robinson is in a great position. Left backs are hard to come by for many teams and Robinson, 20, is building off a season where he showcased himself with over 34 Championship appearances. If not at Everton, there should a long list of English clubs willing to take him on loan.

Andrija Novakovich: While on loan last season at Telstar, Wisconsin’s Novakovich was one of the top goal scorers in the Dutch 2nd tier with 22 goals in 38 appearances across all competitions. Clearly Novoakovich, 21, is ready for more.

There is good news and bad news for Novakovich regarding his parent club, Reading. Reading struggled mightily last season and narrowly avoided relegation out of the Championship. So the club will be looking to make changes. The problem is that the manager who orchestrated his loan to Telstar, Dutchman Jaap Stam, was fired and replaced by Paul Clement – who probably knows little about Novakovich.

Novakovich will likely report to Reading for preseason. If it works out and he fits into Clement’s plans, that would be great. If not, his success in Holland surely built up his reputation there and a transfer (or a loan with an option to buy) in the Eredivisie wouldn’t be a bad back-up option.

Coming off mixed/subpar loans

Not all Americans had great loans. Several had subpar or average loans that will likely force another move.

Haji Wright: There is no question that Haji Wright’s loan from Schalke to Sandhausen of the 2.Bundesliga was a mess. After initially playing (and even starting) at the beginning of the season where he scored a goal in his second game, the California native quickly fell out of favor. Wright, 20, finished with just 587 minutes and had the lone goal. It is hard to see him at anything higher than the 3. Liga next season.

Josh Perez: The California native spent the 2017/18 season on loan at Serie C side Livorno from Serie A’s Fiorentina. He made 23 appearances but never started and played less than 500 minutes. Fiorentina could seek another loan but it also might release the young American to look for a new club.

Julian Green: Unlike Wright or Perez, Green is not coming off a bad loan. His loan from Stuttgart to Greuther Furth in the 2.Bundesliga wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t enormously successful either. With Furth, he played nearly 2,100 minutes but scored only three goals. Still, he had the team’s most important goal of the season in the finale where it was his golazo from distance which helped it avoid relegation.

It is hard to see Green in Stuttgart’s plans at this time. But there are reports that Furth would like Green back – and that is good because it sets a decent floor for where he will end up. He could seek a higher 2.Bundesliga team but a return to Furth seems like a decent bet.

Change of scenery?

A few Americans are now entering into a summer period off of tough seasons. It doesn’t necessarily mean they will find a new club but it is certainly possible.

Geoff Cameron: The Massachusetts native struggled with injures and played just 1,525 minutes in 2017/18 – his lowest number since signing for Stoke from the Houston Dynamo in 2012. Worse still, Stoke City was relegated after a bad season. Cameron will be 33 next month but still should have options.

He could remain with Stoke City in the Championship next year, he could probably find a bottom-tier Premier League team who might take a chance on him (which would run the risk of lower playing time), or he could seek a high-paying contract from an MLS team. At this point in his career and with the national team moving in a younger direction, it will be a personal decision for Cameron.

Bobby Wood: There is no question that Wood’s 2017/18 season was one to forget. He scored just two Bundesliga goals and Hamburg was relegated for the first time in club history. Wood, 25, is still in his prime years although he still misses occasional games with persistent knee soreness – which is probably a concern to suitors. He is also making a lot of money – which also limits his options.

Wood has been linked to some MLS teams and that remains a possibility – although his price tag makes it a risky move for American clubs. He should be able to secure a U.K. work permit should English teams show interest, although that is unclear. This one can go either way. It is also easy to see Wood staying with Hamburg in the 2.Bundesliga because Wood has shown a high level of success in that league before.

Ethan Horvath: There were more downs than ups for Ethan Horvath during the 2017/18 season at Club Brugge. The Colorado-born goalkeeper lost his starting position in the fall but got his way back onto the field for the final two games – mostly due to injuries. While he performed well at the end and was on the field when Brugge clinched the Belgian title, the season as a whole was not successful.

It is hard for a young goalkeeper to find a starting job but if Brugge were quick to replace him this year, perhaps it would be smart for Horvath to explore options in Belgium, Scandinavia, or back stateside.

Young Players Needing Minutes

There are also a group of promising younger players who simply need minutes and are unlikely to find it next season at their club. This summer, it will be interesting see which players go on loan.

Tim Weah: In the second half of the Ligue 1 season, Tim Weah earned minutes for Paris St. Germain as it focused on European games and was running away with the league title. Getting on the field for a loaded PSG team was impressive but he has already now had the benefit of playing for the club’s youth team while training with the team’s first team – which includes some of the greatest players in the world. The club might reach a decision that now is the time for Weah, 18, to earn regular minutes in consequential games. In theory, he could be loaned anywhere but lower Ligue 1 or upper Ligue 2 seems most likely.

Keaton Parks: The new U.S. international made appearances for Benfica’s first team but whether or not he goes on loan for regular minutes will most likely depend on how he performs in preseason. Unlike some other Americans at huge clubs, Parks has a real chance to play for Benfica in 2018/19 but will need to play well in preseason. If he doesn’t, a loan probably becomes likely as he’s outgrown Benfica B.

Emerson Hyndman: While he made his Premier League debut for Bournemouth in its season finale with nothing on the line, it was essentially a lost season for Hyndman. At 22, he cannot afford another season like 2017/18. The Texan has had the unfortunate luck of getting injured in the last two preseasons which has hurt his standing at Bournemouth.

But Bournemouth’s decision not to loan Hyndman last year, even in January, was very disappointing. Hyndman impressed the previous year at Rangers (who would love to have him back) but last year he toiled in the reserves the whole year. Something must happen in 2018/19. He will report to Bournemouth for preseason and either make the first team, get loaned, or sold.

With a Portuguese passport, he can go anywhere in Europe or return stateside should he leave Bournemouth. A lot will depend on how well he performs Stateside.

Luca de la Torre: The San Diego native did not play much for Fulham as it fought successfully for promotion to the Premier League. Like others, he will report to preseason for Fulham and whether or not he remains or goes on loan will determine on how he plays in preseason friendlies.

Should he go on loan, his Spanish passport will open doors and it is hard to imagine that Fulham won’t entertain an option to buy. There were rumors in March that the New England Revolution wanted to take him on loan as Brad Friedel is fond of de la Torre. That could be an option as well although de la Torre will probably remain in Europe.

Out of Contract

Jerome Kiesewetter: Fortuna Dusseldorf was promoted to the Bundesliga but the club won’t take Kiesewetter, 25, with it. The American winger played just 177 minutes in the 2.Bundesliga last season and the club announced it had parted ways with Kiesewetter.

Kiesewetter will probably be able to find clubs interested in the lower 2.Bundesliga or 3.Liga if he wants to stay close to home. He could sniff around stateside in MLS if he is daring although finding interest in the United States is not guaranteed.

Terrence Boyd: Boyd’s contract with Darmstadt of the 2.Bundesliga expired at the end of the season. He played in 24 games (nine starts) for 890 minutes and scored four goals. Boyd, 27, said he is entertaining the idea of negotiating a new deal with Darmstadt and that seems like a good bet where he’ll end up. Don’t be surprised if interest from a few MLS team heats up for the charismatic forward.

Out of Sweden

Romain Gall: The former Columbus Crew and U.S. U-20 winger is off to a hot start to the season in Sweden with GIF Sundsvall where he has eight goals and four assists in 13 games across all competitions. His club has admitted that Dutch clubs are actively scouting Gall, 23, with Heerenveen specifically mentioned. A move to the Eredivisie seems like a real possibility this summer and his French passport (he was born in Paris) will facilitate it.

Brendan Hines-Ike: The smooth passing central defender for Orebro has seen verifiable rumors surface over a move to the Eredivisie. ASN has learned that Hines-Ike has applied for an Irish passport which could facilitate a move.

“He is one of the most talented central defenders in the Allsvenskan and he is doing well now,” Orebro technical director Magnus Skoldmark said recently. “There is interest from other clubs.”

Out of MLS

Which domestic-based American players could be on the move this summer? Of course Tyler Adams is likely but there are other potential deals to watch

Tyler Adams: At this point, Adams seems like a safe bet to be sold by the New York Red Bulls to RB Leipzig (same ownership) this summer on a deal that will allow him to remain in New York through the end of the MLS season. Afterward, he could get loaned to Red Bull Salzburg until next summer’s Bundesliga preseason.

Kellyn Acosta: Finally healthy from a hernia injury which had been bothering him for a long time, Acosta has 18 months left on his contract with FC Dallas. If the U.S. international can continue to play well as he has in recent weeks since his return, he can perhaps revive interest in him. Dallas will probably ask for a lot but could come down at the risk of losing him for free. Since Acosta doesn’t have an EU passport and would require a transfer fee, the clubs most likely to be involved are in Germany.

Alex Bono: While most likely to stay with Toronto, there were reports that Belgian clubs, including champion Club Brugge, are interested in Bono after the goalkeeper impressed in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Other Players to Watch

Gedion Zelalem, Shane O’Neill, Desevio Payne, Junior Flores

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