Season preview

ASN's 2023/24 European season preview: a detailed look at each American player in Europe

ASN's Brian Sciaretta gives a detalied look at each of the American players throughout Europe as the 2023/24 season prepares to get underway. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 09, 2023
11:50 AM

A NEW SEASON IS upon is in Europe. Some leagues have already begun, and some leagues are nearing their kickoff. This past offseason has seen a lot of changes and there are still several American players who can or should be moving before the transfer window closes. But most of the stage is set for the coming season.

Most leagues feature a number of American players, and each has their own set of possible goals in the months ahead. Here is a discussion of each of the players in each league and what are the realistic goals in the coming season.


The Premier League


There has been a lot of movement regarding Americans in England this year at several levels. The Leeds relegation and Christian Pulisic’s exodus has changed the landscape. But there is still a significant presence.

First, there is the duo at Fulham which overperformed last year immediately after promotion.

Tim Ream was perhaps the best American player in any league in 2022/23. It ended early with a broken arm and that limited his preseason. But Ream will soon be 36 and the obvious question is how much longer can he stay at one of the highest levels in the game? He is only signed at Fulham through this season. For now, he is still a big player, and he has a spot on the national team. We will learn a lot about Ream this year. Is he still a national team player for the Copa America? Does he want to stay in Europe beyond this season? Father Time wins all battles, but Ream is aging like fine wine.

Antonee Robinson also had a very good season for Fulham in 2022/23 where he made big strides in his game and finally showed himself to be a player who belongs in the Premier League and is a lock starter on the national team. He doesn’t need to do anything more than keep it up, build off last season, and prove he can keep doing this season after season.

Chris Richards showed a high ceiling at times last season for Crystal Palace. But he’s now 23 and he needs to play regularly. We know his talent, but minutes have been too elusive for him due to a steady flow of injuries. In 2022/23, he played just 442 minutes and was injured for the World Cup. The most first-team minutes he has played in a season has been 1300. What he needs is to simply stay healthy and play regularly. He is likely to continue to play with the national team if he is healthy, but he needs minutes to be at his best heading into the Copa America.

Auston Trusty took a very positive first step in England last year. The move from Colorado to Arsenal didn’t really impress given the common ownership. But Trusty then went on loan to Birmingham City, played 4000 minutes and was the team’s player of the season. He used that to earn a legitimate transfer from Arsenal to newly promoted Sheffield United. Sheffield United needs defenders and Trusty can help them in their three-man backline. It should be expected that he plays real minutes, and it will be a huge challenge for Sheffield United to stay up. If they do, Trusty will likely have played very well. If Sheffield United are relegated, Trusty will be very prepared to help them in the Championship. But there is no question that this move will help raise his profile and allow him to compete for a spot on the national team.

Matt Turner is still yet to make his Premier League debut after spending all 2022/23 as the backup at Arsenal. Now he is set to be the first-choice goalkeeper at Nottingham Forest after securing a full transfer. Forest will likely be in a relegation battle and Turner’s play could help be a factor whether they remain in the Premier League. This is also great news for the national team who finally have stability for their top keeper.

There are also other issues for Americans in the Premier League. Folarin Balogun probably won’t be with Arsenal beyond this window. Arsenal wants to sell him, and his value won’t be any higher in January. It’s just a game of chicken for how long they can hold out and what their price is.

The good news for Matt Turner at Forest also means that Ethan Horvath shifts to the backup option. But he is good enough for the Championship at least. But will any teams there (or perhaps on the continent) make a push for him? Sticking with Forest, Alex Mighten is still there but he needs a loan or a transfer to play. His loan to Sheffield Wednesday was a disaster last season as it was canceled at the end of the January window and he was forced to play with Forest’s reserve team.

Luca Koleosho declined a spot on the U.S. U-20 team to play for Italy’s U-19 team, but in theory he could still switch back to the USA. But Koleosho, a winger, has impressed at Burnley and could be in line for a breakout season.

Finally, Gaga Slonina played for Chelsea’s U-23 team and isn’t ready for the first team yet. But there could be loan options for him this season at some point.


Serie A


No other top European league has seen a huge bolster of American talent than Serie A. In a league where it used to be rare to see American players based, there are four top U.S. national team players there at two of the most historically powerful Italian teams.

Christian Pulisic is the biggest name in American soccer, and he is now at AC Milan after a rollercoaster tenure at Chelsea where he won the Champions League and also struggled with injuries and for a steady starting job after an endless flow of managerial changes. Expectations should be high for Pulisic. He is back in the Champions League, he is rated by Stefano Pioli who has more security than anyone at Chelsea, and Pulisic should also be playing with a chip on his shoulder. Pulisic has now reached a point where he is in his prime. He’s not seen as a player for the future. Milan wants him for what he is now. The only thing stopping Pulisic now are injuries. He needs to avoid those and be ready for a 2000+ minute season.

Yunus Musah will join Pulisic at Milan but there are far more questions surrounding Musah than Pulisic. For Musah, it’s about the final product. We see how he can effortlessly dribble through the midfield and he’s become a lock starter for the national team. But the question is creating and scoring goals. Last season, he failed to score and had just two assists for Valencia. He can and must be better at Milan and the leash will not be nearly as long under Pioli. Milan clearly believes Musah will become a more complete package, but it’s by no means a sure thing. That’s the most important thing for Musah over the course of the season – to show more creation and actual quantifiable goal production for Milan.

 Weston McKennie is perhaps the most surprising American player of 2023. His move to Leeds was a surprise. His struggles there to help the team avoid relegation were a surprise. His failure to trigger his option to buy on his loan to Leeds was a surprise. His remaining with Juventus after his loan was a surprise. Finally, his very impressive preseason for Juventus was perhaps the biggest surprise. He is back in top form at Juventus, but can he keep it up and can he help Juventus remain a solid top four team in Italy. We know McKennie can perform well at the highest of levels, but can he be reliable to perform this way for an entire season under the pressure of one of world’s most storied clubs? He’s done it as a member of the supporting cast at Schalke and Juve. But the next step is to be in the main cast.

Tim Weah is now also at Juventus and for the first time in his career, he seems set to begin a season in a set role. At PSG, Celtic, and Lille he floated from winger, to center forward, to right back, and to wingback. But now at Juventus, he seems set to play this wingback role. Weah, 22, looks comfortable and happy in this role. Perhaps this consistency of a position will allow him to go from a promising player to a dependably good player. Assuming he can stay healthy (and he is still yet to play a 2000 minute season at the first team level) there is no reason to feel anything but optimistic about this move.

Aside from these players, there still could be some interesting movement for Americans in Serie A. First, Folarin Balogun has been linked with Inter Milan and Arsenal has reportedly rejected offers for the U.S. national team forward. If Inter Milan eventually come to terms, that would put yet another American presence at the top end of the league – which would be a staggering development. If Inter Milan end up spending an enormous sum on Balogun, he will play.

Finally, keep an eye on Tanner Tessmann who impressed last season in Serie B with Venezia. There is reported interest from within Serie A for an August transfer.


The Bundesliga


Among the top European leagues, the Bundesliga is typically the home to the most American players given that it has fewer restrictions on foreign, non-EU players. This continues to be the case as at least nine players should be regularly in the matchday squads. There are also youth players knocking at the door at several clubs.

Gio Reyna is the biggest American name in the league but he’s also the biggest mystery. He puts up very productive numbers based on minutes played, but last season he rarely started. He also still struggles with injuries, and he hasn’t been able to participate with Dortmund’s preseason. He’s played less than 1100 minutes the last two seasons combined. There is no question about his talent. But will this be the season he can put it all together in all three areas: 1) staying healthy, 2) earning a starting spot, 3) continuing to produce. Dortmund will want to sell Reyna at some point, but he’s only going fetch a real sum if he can do all three. For Reyna, success could be determined as to when he will be at 100%.

Brenden Aaronson didn’t put up the numbers he wanted last year at Leeds United but now he will head to the Bundesliga with a Union Berlin team that is in the Champions League. The expectation and goals should be that he improves at Union Berlin where he is playing in a less physical league and is surrounded by better teammates compared with the level of the league. This is probably the move he should have made after Salzburg. Confidence will be key.

Jordan Pefok will also be at Union Berlin, but the open question is his confidence level as the season opens. He began 2022/23 in terrific form but then struggled shortly afterward. After September 17, he only scored one goal and he lost his spot in the starting XI. Was this a matter of confidence, or was it Bundesliga defenders figuring him out and taking away his strengths? There should be concern given how he has struggled in top leagues before. He was once a promising player in Ligue 1 but then faded before finding success in Ligue 2 and in Switzerland. We will learn a lot about Pefok this season as to whether he is simply someone who thrives at lower levels? Regarding the national team, the arrival of Balogun and the improvement of Ricardo Pepi has moved him down the ladder (and he was already behind Josh Sargent and Haji Wright). He also faces new competition from players like Brandon Vazquez. On many levels, he needs to have a big year.

Paxten Aaronson was denied a release by Eintracht Frankfurt to play in the U-20 World Cup because it seems like the club has a clear path for him. He showed some promise in the preseason and there should be hopes that he gets regular playing time. A 2000-minute season seems unlikely, but if he can impress off the bench early in the season, it should open doors for potential starts. Eintracht are clearly happy with the younger Aaronson and have a patient approach. He should get opportunities early in the season. Internationally, Aaronson could benefit tremendously from the Olympic team if Eintracht are willing to release him.

Timothy Chandler is now 33 and is clearly playing out the string of what could be the final years of his career. He’s a bench option for Eintracht these days and he hardly plays. Last season, he was only on the field for 81 minutes. It’s hard to see his situation improving much.

Kevin Paredes picked up an injury in preseason with Wolfsburg and won’t return until a few weeks into the season. The U.S. U-20 winger looked sharp last season, but it was almost entirely as a sub. He made a respectable 22 appearances but only started once (where he didn’t play well). The key for him once he returns to health is to show he can be an effective starter, even if it is just occasionally. He needs to far surpass the 512 minutes he earned in 2022/23. Internationally, he is another player who could benefit tremendously from the Olympic level to bridge the gap from the USYNT to the USMNT.

Joe Scally faded out of the starting lineup towards the end of 2022/23 when only played two minutes for Borussia Monchengladbach in the final five games of the season. Heading into the 2023/24 preseason, it appeared as if Scally would face competition for the starting right back job. But that changed dramatically in July when it was announced that Stefan Lainer had cancer and would miss several months. It was also revealed that Monchengladbach would not seek another right back. Scally, 21, has the starting job at M’Gladbach as a result. It’s not the way anyone would want to beat out competition, but Scally needs to take advantage of the opportunity to ensure he is the right back M’Gladbach want.

Lennard Maloney and 1.FC Heidenheim were the unlikely winners of the 2.Bundesliga last season and many in Germany are predicting the club won’t survive in the Bundesliga. That’s probably a fair assessment. But Maloney has a nice opportunity to test himself in Germany’s top tier where he will likely continue as a defensive midfielder (after converting from central defense last season). He desperately wants to play for the U.S. national team and playing well in the Bundesliga could give him the opportunity he craves.

John Brooks arrived at Hoffenheim midway through last season after a failed move to Benfica. In his return to Germany, he helped Hoffenheim climb out of the relegation zone and comfortably into midtable. Now 30, Brooks is a very experienced central defender who has a great understanding of the Bundesliga. He should be an anchor in the team’s backline once again after he was the team’s player of the month to end 2022/23. Will it get him back in the picture with the U.S. national team? Gregg Berhalter preferred other players last year and he will likely continue to explore other options the rest of 2023. But if Brooks is thriving at Hoffenheim heading into the Copa America and other central defenders are struggling, Brooks could be back in the mix.

Pellegrino Matarazzo is the only American manager in the top European leagues to start 2023/24 and it was a tough assignment for him to right the ship at Hoffenheim last year when he took the job in January. But eventually he did and Hoffenheim climbed out of the relegation zone in the final month of the season. Expectations should be that Matarazzo continues to improve the team back to where it should be – midtable. He’s a very good manager and is certainly continuing to make a big name for himself in Germany.

Elsewhere in Germany there are other players who are at the youth levels looking to break through. Quincy Butler has been making the bench this preseason at Hoffenheim after previously playing on the team’s bench. Damion Downs made the bench a few times for FC Koln last season and featured this preseason for the first team. He should be back with the second team to start the season but could get a look later in the season. Like Downs, Malik Sonogo is knocking at the door with the first team at Union Berlin while also playing with U.S. youth teams.

Malik Tillman has been training with Bayern Munich this preseason after a very productive loan last season with Rangers. He looks set for a loan to PSV this season.

Also, Borussia Monchengladbach has been looking at FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez for most of 2023. Cincy doesn’t seem willing to let Vazquez go before the end of the 2023 season, but would M’Gladbach look to acquire him in January (possible buying him in August and then loaning him back through 2023)? We will see.


La Liga/Ligue 1


With several American players featuring in the top leagues of Spain and France, only one U.S. international is in the mix between the two leagues to start 2023/24.

Luca de la Torre had an up and down season with Celta Vigo in 2022/23. He eventually cracked the team’s starting XI where he had some good games and some subpar games. He only managed a couple of assists (with no goals) and had some good games and some bad games. Celta Vigo flirted with relegation but managed to escape at the end. The goal for de la Torre should be to remain as a starter despite upgrades at the club. If he does that, he must help guide the team to a safer season in 2023/24 where there is never any doubt about relegation. With the national team, he remains a solid backup option but there will be emerging competition among the younger group of players who are mostly U-23 players now. He should be feeling some pressure for both club and country in 2023/24 and it is up to him to prove he is still the better option.


The Eredivisie


The Eredivisie will have its biggest presence of Americans in many years as a number of players have found their way into the league.

Ricardo Pepi remains in the top Dutch flight, but things are much different. He has gone from a relegation team to perennial powers PSV Eindhoven. He could also get the chance to play in the Champions League. While it won’t be as easy for him to see the field due to competition, he should be able to see the field on a regular basis, at worst as a sub. Expectations should be high for Pepi as he has already shown he can score in the Eredivisie – but now he should only see his play elevated by better teammates. It’s an appropriate step up and while Pepi might not play enough to reach double digits like he did last year, he should be effective.

Djordje Mihaiolvoic will finally get his first full season in the Eredivisie after joining AZ Alkmaar last December. When he joined AZ, it was tough for Mihailovic, 23, as he was trying to break into a team that in the middle of an overachieving season. His playing time was limited and most of his appearances came as a late substitute. Now with a full preseason with players starting off on an equal footing, more should be expected. Success for Mihailovic is starting most of his appearances and finding a way to create chances for a team that should finish in the top five.

Agustin Anello is an Olympic eligible winger who desperately wants to play for the United States for the first time at any age level. The Miami area native went on loan from Lommel (2nd tier Belgium) to Hajduk Split where he was a regular substitute. Hajduk declined its option to buy Anello, but Anello quickly secured an impressive move to Sparta Rotterdam. Anello played regularly in the preseason but we will see if Sparta sees him as a starter. That is unclear but he will get opportunities. From there, it is up to him. If he takes advantage, he could get a starting job and opportunities with the U.S. U-23 team.

Taylor Booth impressed last season and earned a spot on the U.S. national team by March. After a rocky first few weeks with Utrecht, Booth was the league’s player of the month for November. Eventually he cooled off a little, but he needs to stay at the level of being one of Utrecht’s better offensive players. He also needs to show he can handle the physicality of the league better for him to eventually force a sale and take a bigger role with the national team (and he’s also Olympic eligible as well). Booth has the ability to improve, and this season will also help set his ceiling.

Anthony Fontana singed a new contract with newly promoted PEC Zwolle after he performed well on a short term contract for the last two months of 2022/23. The former Philadelphia Union homegrown hardly played in Serie B with Ascoli but he moved to Zwolle shortly after his contract was terminated. He’s likely a bench option for Zwolle to start the season, but success would be impressing and moving into the starting lineup and helping Zwolle avoid relegation back to the Eerste Divisie.

Elsewhere in the Eredivisie, Malik Tillman is linked with a loan to PSV from Bayern Munich. Such a move would likely include an option to buy. That would be a nice step up for Tillman after his successful time from Rangers.

Also at PSV, Richard Ledezma is still with NYCFC on loan and could rejoin PSV later in the season. His loan to NYCFC has been successful in getting him playing time, but he has not dominated in the way it would take to indicate he is ready to play regularly for PSV. It might take another loan.

Defender Kik Pierre is with Excelcior and while he could only play for the USA if he filed a one-time switch. That seems highly likely as his Dutch dreams seem distant. But he’s also not good enough yet for the USA. To get there, he needs to stay healthy and play well. But staying healthy has always been tough for Pierre and he is already injured to start this season.


The Belgian First Division


The first division in Belgium will once again be busy with up to five Americans set to be regular contributors on matchday squads.

Mark McKenzie is the most prominent American in the first division. The central defender has locked down a starting job with Genk and has occasionally worn the armband. The start to the season hasn’t gone well as Genk has been bounced from the Champions League. But there should be a high bar for success this year for McKenzie. He should be one of the best central defenders in the First Division and help Genk into being a top two or three team. If that happens, McKenzie should be in a great position to be sold in 2024 and continued looks with the U.S. national team.

Bryan Reynolds will return to Westerlo after he had a very good season there on loan from Roma. He impressed so much that Westerlo purchased Reynolds directly from the Italian club. He has a high ceiling as a right back but needs quality coaching to get to that level. But he’s in a great spot to play every single game with a team and develop. Internationally, Reynolds seems likely to be the Olympic team’s right back.

Griffin Yow while he is injured to start the season, Yow is a very good pick to be a surprise this year among Americans abroad. Yow was actually Westerlo’s best player in the preseason and looks as if his game has come a long way from his DC United days behind the scenes. The winger from Virginia is another Olympic option and while making that team will be tough for Yow, it’s not an unrealistic goal either.

Sam Vines is a huge question mark heading into this season with a Royal Antwerp team who won the First Division. Vines made the move to Antwerp in 2021 but has dealt with serious injuries. First a broken collarbone shortly after he got there. Then last November, his World Cup hopes were eliminated when he broke is tibia in training. While he was a regular starter before his tibia injury, he never played again the rest of the season. In preseason and the start of the season, he’s been a sub. But success for him would be reclaiming his starting spot. But 100% recoveries from a broken tibia are tough to predict.

Marlon Fossey was one of the breakout Americans in 2022/23. After his youth career stalled out at Fulham (and with U.S. youth national teams) due to repeated injuries, Fossey finally turned his career around last year when he joined Standard Liege on a free transfer. He emerged as a regular starter as Standard’s right wingback. His athleticism in covering the right side was impressive and, even more impressively, he stayed healthy the entire season. One more healthy season could make him a nice asset for Standard to sell. Internationally, the right back position is crowded for Fossey but he could force a look if he builds off last season.

Finally in Belgium, it’s been a sad story with Owen Otasowie who isn’t being paid by Club Belgium and the club seemingly never know his whereabouts. It wouldn’t be surprising if we’ve seen the last of him as a professional player.


Scottish Premiership


There isn’t as big of an American presence in Scotland this season after Malik Tillman and James Sands left Rangers, Ian Harkes left Dundee United, and Matthew Hoppe’s loan from Middlesbrough to Hibernian unsuccessfully ended. But there are still important payers.

Cameron Carter-Vickers is regular starter for Celtic and is an important player to the team’s backline. He had knee surgery offseason but started the team’s first game of the season, a 4-2 win over Ross County. Clearly, Carter-Vickers needs to dominate Scotland again since he was on the Premiership’s Team of the Season for 2022/23. Anything less would be disappointing. His games in European play and in Old Firm games are critical because they are the few times he will be tested with Celtic. He was on the World Cup team and will have competition if Richards gets healthy and McKenzie plays well with Genk. But he’s in a good position too with Berhalter coming back.

Dante Polvara returned to Aberdeen from a successful loan stateside with the Charleston Battery. The new coaching staff at Aberdeen likes him so he has clear goals which would mark success: 1) starting regularly and 2) making an impact for an Aberdeen team which could finish as high as third place.

Joe Efford is healthy after being sidelines for most of the 2022/23. The winger needs to break back into Motherwell’s starting XI, but he didn’t have a great preseason so he has work to do.

Scott Pittman is the all-time appearance leader for Livingston and is a club legend. But now over 30, his starting job isn’t as secure. Getting back into the starting XI and helping the team to a top-half finish would be success.


The 2.Bundesliga 


There isn’t as much of an American presence in the 2.Bundesliga with Lennard Maloney getting promoted and Ryan Malone leaving for Ingolstadt in the 3.Liga along with American manager Joe Enochs getting relegated with Jahn Regensburg. But some big names remain.

Julian Green returns to Greuther Furth after a disappointing season. Two years ago, Green was key to Furth’s promotion. Then in the Bundesliga, he rarely played as they were relegated. Last season, he was lackluster as Furth limped to a midtable finish. But he had a nice preseason and a solid start to the season. We don’t yet know what Green will show up this season, but the early signs are that he could be at the level where he was three seasons ago in a successful season – which would be a big improvement.

Maxamillian Dietz looks to be a starter for Greuther Furth after years in the reserves. Last season, he made a few first team substitute appearances, but he started the club’s preseason games and the first two games of 2023/24. He plays the right side of a three-man backline. At 21 years old, he is eligible for the U.S. Olympic team so his goals should be starting for Furth, helping the team in a promotional race, and getting into the U.S. U-23 team (which needs defensive depth).

Terrence Boyd successfully restarted his career starting last season at the age of 32 when he was one of the best center forwards in the 2.Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern. His national team days are over, but it should be a nice goal for him to help in the Kaiserslautern revival as an offensive threat. He’s one of the better “feel good” stories with his charismatic personality. He could still hit double digits again.

Fabian Hurzeler was a remarkable story getting St. Pauli’s managerial job a month before his 30th birthday. When he took the job, St. Pauli was almost in the relegation zone. By the end of the year, St. Pauli was a contender for promotion. Hurzeler’s goal this year should be to have St. Pauli in contention for promotion. After last year, that is realistic.


The Championship


There is a lot up in the air regarding Americans in the Championship. Will Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath return with different teams after good seasons? Will Tyler Adams move on from Leeds despite being injured since March? Meanwhile, Matthew Hoppe moved away on loan while Jonathan Tomkinson could also still move away.

Josh Sargent has a lot on the line as he is now the top forward at Norwich since Teemu Pukki was sold to Minnesota. Sargent is a good forward and he can and should hit double digits again. But can he go from being a good forward to a forward who can lead a team in a promotional race? That is a high bar but that is a bar that Norwich set for him. He has a ton of responsibility and handling that well would impress Gregg Berhalter.

Also with Norwich City, former U.S. national team forward David Wagner is the team’s manager and the pressure will be on him to get the team into the playoffs, at least. Meanwhile, U.S. U-23 hopeful Jonathan Tomkinson had a mediocre loan to Stevenage in League Two last year and the defender from Texas might need another loan.

Daryl Dike has had a tough time since joining West Bromwich in 2022. He simply can’t stay healthy and is not supposed to be healthy until later in the year with an Achilles’ injury. It’s very disappointing news given how likable and charismatic Dike is. The goal for Dike is simply to get back on the field and stay healthy. Could he do better? Of course. But seeing him healthy for an extended period would be a great start.

Haji Wright is now with Coventry – who paid a club record for the American forward after he broke out in the Turkish Super Lig with Antalyaspor with 31 goals in all competitions over two seasons. But when a club pays that high of a price, it expects something in return. Namely, Wright will need to be a forward who can reliably produce goals for a team that expects to be in a promotional race. Last season, Coventry narrowly missed out on promotion in a shootout loss to Luton Town in the playoff final. After Coventry sold star forward Viktor Gyokeres to Sporting CP in the offseason, Haji Wright will be expected to fill that void and deliver. The pressure on Wright is enormous and the bar has been set high.

Duane Holmes made the move away from his hometown club, Huddersfield, and is now with Preston North End. At 28 years old, he needs to be consistent and steady for a club which finished 12th in 2022/23 but who has ambitions to push for the playoffs. A tenacious midfielder at his best, he has far more opportunity at Preston North End than with a limited Huddersfield team.

Lynden Gooch and Sunderland pushed for back to back promotions in 2022/23 but fell short in the playoffs. Gooch has had spells in and out of Sunderland’s starting XI. Now playing right back, he has grown nicely into the position. The goal for him is to start most of Sunderland’s games and help it continue to be in the playoff mix.

Vaughn Covil started at the beginning of last season for Hull City before suffering a torn ACL which not only ended his season, but it eliminated him from any possibility of playing with the U.S. U-20 team last cycle. He’s back now and the goal is for him to simply get back on track to where he was before the injury. It might take a loan away from Hull City.

Jaheim Headley played a lot of minutes last year for Huddersfield and he had some impressive moments. The 21-year-old left back has told people, however, that his goal is to play for Jamaica.


Yanks in Other Leagues


Rokas Pukstas is one of the top American teenagers now and he is now a lock starter for Hajduk Split. He started off 2023/24 in terrific fashion with two game winning goals in the first two HNL games. He ended last season winning the Croatian Cup (where he drew a penalty). But unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury and will miss the next two months. It’s a setback given the strides he had been making. But his goal should be to continue to emerge as an important player for Hadjuk Split, win games/trophies, and eventually force a sale. Internationally, he seems like a strong candidate for the U.S. Olympic team next summer.

Erik Palmer-Brown earned a move from Troyes in France after their relegation to Panathinaikos FC, who finished second in Greece and are still alive in Champions League qualifying. For Palmer-Brown, 26, he now gets to join a team that is surrounded by better talent – as opposed to midtable or relegation level talent. It’s a great move for him mentally to be able to win. He should aim for a spot in the starting lineup (which he always seems to do, no matter where he plays) and he should also aim to be one of the better centerbacks in Greece. Internationally, he seems to be behind several other players on the national team but perhaps winning will help him (like it did for Carter-Vickers). He also wouldn’t be a bad overage selection for the U.S. Olympic team.

Alex Mendez has had an up and down time the past two seasons with Vizela in Portugal. He’s been in and out of the starting XI while occasionally having some big games. He’s still only 22 years old and time is on his side but the goals this season should be a 2000-minute season (he was around 1400 in his first two Vizela seasons) while also being productive to help Vizela push into the top half of the season.

Alejandro Alvarado had a disappointing season with Vizela in 2022/23 where his first team minutes completely evaporated, and it cost him a spot on the U.S. U-20 World Cup team. His career doesn’t seem to be in a great place and he simply needs to do whatever he can to play regularly.

Benji Michel was a good sub option for Arouca after joining the Portuguese club in January. Arouca finished firth last season to earn a spot in the qualifying rounds of the Conference League (where they will face Norway’s Brann). Michel, 25, only started once for Arouca and earning more starts should be his priority.

Justin Che moved from FC Dallas to Brondby in Denmark after Hoffenheim declined to purchase him following the end of an 18-month loan in May. In between, he played at the U-20 World Cup for the U.S. team. Two things for Che, he needs to gradually develop as a player and start to get regular playing time. He also needs to figure out a primary position after floating between right back and central defense the past two years.

Christian Cappis is also at Brondby and his minutes have been uneven (1049 minutes in 2021/22 and 982 minutes in 2022/23). There have been reports he might be exploring a move back the USA, which would be fine if this is where he can play. He probably will leave Brondby if he remains only an occasional starter.

Sebastian Soto moved last year to Austria Klagenfurt to jumpstart his stagnating career. He saw limited minutes and scored one goal. He is now hurt with a back injury to start 2023/24. Whenever he returns, he will need to crush it. At 23, it’s getting late early for Soto and the hype from his U-20 days is now over. He is still yet to show anything professionally.

George Bello also has struggled in recent years. He began to fade in Atlanta and then that continued when he moved to Arminia Bielefeld as that club suffered back-to-back relegations. Bello’s minutes evaporated by the end. Now he’s at LASK in the Austrian Bundesliga, and that would be fine expect that the club also recently signed long-time left back Rene Renner to a long time deal. Renner regularly plays nearly every minute for the club, so Bello joined a team where he is clearly the backup. If he gets any meaningful opportunity, he must take advantage of it. Otherwise, Bello is not going to play much.

Emmanuel Sabbi has been an effective winger for OB Odense with most of his goals coming against the bottom half of the Danish Super Liga. The strong winger has probably found his level at age 25 but OB’s sporting director has recently said Antalyaspor in Turker has been interested.

EDIT: there are now reports out of France that Sabbi will be on the move to Le Havre who were just promoted to France's Ligue 1. That is a big step up for Sabbi and a rare chance for him to break into a top league. 


Yanks still on the market


As we near mid-August, there are still several American players who could be on the move. These will be big stories for the remainder of the window.

Folarin Balogun increased his stock with a tremendous season in 2022/23 with Reims on loan from Arsenal. Inter Milan want him, and he could succeeded there and in many other places. It just comes down to Arsenal setting a realistic price.

Tyler Adams is still with Leeds United and there is interest from Premier League teams who would pay the release fee for Adams because they see him as a starter. Still, it becomes tough to move an injured player and Adams hasn’t played since an injury in March.

Sergino Dest had a terrible loan in 2022/23 to AC Milan and he is back with a Barcelona team that doesn’t want him. He will land on his feet with a good but not great club. To get back into the highest levels of the game, he needs improve in certain areas while having a coach who appreciates his style of playing. Among top managers, Dest isn’t for everyone.

Tanner Tessmann impressed last season with Venezia as a big and athletic midfielder who is also skilled. It would be a surprise if he remains with Venezia for the duration of this season. A move this summer still seems very realistic.

Gianluca Busio was also with Venezia but his minutes were erratic. He’s expensive for Venezia and the club would likely want to move him. But who will come in with a high enough offer for Venezia. A move back to MLS could work, but which teams will pay a few million for him? That doesn’t seem realistic.

Malik Tillman raised his stock nicely on loan with Rangers and he also isn’t in Bayern Munich’s plans. The reports of PSV seem like an appropriate step for him take, even if it is on loan.

Ethan Horvath returned to Nottingham Forest after his loan to Luton Town last season ended with his purchase option not being picked up despite a successful promotion. Is he really going to be Turner’s backup? It seems like he has done enough to show he is a keeper who can be a valuable asset to a Championship team looking for promotion.

Zack Steffen is also in limbo after returning to Manchester City after his loan to Middlesbrough resulted in his purchase option not being picked up. He’s a strong candidate to move since he is now No. 3  at City. He needs a good move for his national team career.

Reggie Cannon is a free agent after terminating his contract with Boavista. There have been reports of interest from Koln and Rayo Vallecano, but Cannon needs to be careful that clubs are not simply taking a flyer on him since he is now free. He’s in a tricky spot.

Caden Clark moved to Leipzig from the New York Red Bulls in January but didn’t play for the German team. In fact, Clark is yet to play a game since September 18, 2022 (nearly 11 months ago). He fell out of the U.S. U-20 squad too. There were reports that Twente was interested in him on loan. But he’s in a spot where he desperately needs to play. Almost any option that gets him on the field is a good one.

Konrad De la Fuente has had a miserable 18 months. He’s fallen out of favor at Marseille and he didn’t play on his loan to Olympiacos. Now there are reports that SD Eibar in Spain’s Segunda wants to bring him in on loan. That’s great. De la Fuente needs to play and reverse the downward trend. A big thing to watch with de la Fuente is his professionalism. How hard will he work to improve?

Uly Llanez is another young player in limbo. Still signed to Wolfsburg, he spent the last two seasons on loan to St. Poelten of Austrian’s second tier. He doesn’t want to go back there for a third season but Wolfsburg probably doesn’t have a lot of options for him either. His career has been stuck in the mud for a long time now and it isn’t clear how this will be fixed.

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