BY PATRICK MacDONALD
With the first two games of World Cup Qualifying in the bag, the U.S. Men’s National team has an interesting summer ahead of them. While the European based players will rest, some of them, as well as some MLS based players, will look to find new clubs as the summer transfer window opens up. In a good sign of progress for American soccer, many will be upgrading their club team as opposed to merely looking for playing time.
Here’s a closer look at the rumored transfers facing the USMNT players this summer.
Let’s first start out with a transfer rumor that is a long shot. Fabian Johnson was one of the best players on the field for the U.S. in May-June, his form the result of an excellent campaign at Hoffenheim in Bundesliga. Johnson’s ability apparently has not escaped the notice of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger. According the Bleacher Report, Johnson is a potential target of the London based side. However, more than likely Johnson will stay put in Germany.
No three U.S. players are in a more dire spot than those with the Rangers in Glasgow; Maurice Edu, Alejandro Bedoya, and Carlos Bocanegra. With news coming out that the Rangers maybe booted from an already weak Scottish Premier League due to their poor financial situation, it would do well for the three Americans to get out of Dodge.
There’s very little chatter on Alejandro Bedoya at the moment, but a player of his caliber should have no problem finding a home in Europe where he’s spent his entire career. A return to Scandinavia wouldn’t be the worst move, and of course, MLS is always an option for someone of Bedoya’s skill.
There are more concrete rumors of clubs interested in both Bocanegra and Edu. While Bocanegra’s move to Glasgow was fueled by a desire to play Champions League soccer, it seems like he may be giving up on that dream to return to North America, more specifically the Vancouver Whitecaps, where he could pair up with his World Cup 2010 partner at centerback, Jay DeMerit.
Edu on the other hand could head East in Europe where he’s been linked to Bursaspor, the Turkish club where Jozy Altidore had a 12 game loan stint in 2011. While Edu has been a loyal soldier to the Rangers throughout these tumultuous times, the fact that the team could be out of the Scottish premiership makes a move a necessity for Edu to keep his starting spot in the USMNT lineup.
Brad Guzan, the backup keeper is currently without a club, but that shouldn’t last too long. Rumor has it that based on his successful loan stint, Guzan is targeted by English Championship side Hull City. Guzan is too young and too talented to remain without a club for long, and Hull will likely snatch him up fast, thus negating any chance Guzan returns to MLS.
Geoff Cameron, coming off an ok series of matches in qualifying, has generated some interest in Europe. The two rumored landing spots are either Stoke City or Everton, both in the Premiership. Cameron is an extraordinarily promising centerback who would benefit greatly from regularly facing tougher competition. With Oguchi Onyewu looking done, and Bocanegra aging, the U.S. needs someone to step up at CB. That could be Cameron, and a move abroad will only enhance his chances.
Now onto the big guns.
Things looked dire for Michael Bradley as he failed to impress in a 2011 loan stint at Aston Villa. However, the young midfielder found a home at Chievo Verona and had a stellar campaign in Serie A. His form carried over to the national team and now the Chievo Verona chairman is already claiming the team will part ways with Bradley this summer saying they have offers on the table from big European clubs. Bradley’s stock is skyrocketing and if he can get into the top tier of European football sooner rather than later, it can only benefit the National team.
It’s hard to imagine an MLS without Landon Donovan, but a transfer overseas could very well be in the cards. He’s twice now shined on loan stints to English Premier League side Everton so he knows he can hack it overseas. Of course, Donovan is the American face of MLS. However, the Galaxy have been underwhelming this season, his contract runs only through 2013, and at the age of 30, if he wants a long-term test in Europe, now is the time.
At the same time MLS might be wise to make a big profit off it’s star when they can. Donovan has done all he can in MLS, he’s easily one of, if not the greatest player in the league’s history. MLS owes him a transfer, he owes himself a transfer, it’s time to move on.
Finally, the biggest transfer chatter related to a U.S. player is that of Clint Dempsey. Dempsey has been linked to two of the Premier League’s big four, Liverpool and Arsenal, as well as Everton. With Dempsey expressing a desire to play Champions’ League soccer, a move to Arsenal would be wisest. Many expect Dempsey’s transfer out of Fulham to be historic for American soccer. Dempsey is arguably the best American player to ever play in Europe and if he can continue that form at a larger club, it will open yet more doors for other American players as well as benefit the National team. No matter what, Dempsey’s storied Fulham career is likely over and an exciting new chapter is likely to begin.