Americans abroad analysis
Abroad notebook: busy transfer window continues, preseason updates, & more
September 01, 2020
THE ODD-TIMED offseason is taking place abroad and mostly the news involves preseason friendlies and potential transfer rumors. So far, it has been a very active transfer season for American players and preseason has been both interesting and tough to read.
What we’ve known so far is that the list of moves that have taken places has already been impressive. Weston McKennie’s move to Juventus was a blockbuster. Antonee Robinson’s move to Fulham now puts him into the Premier League. In smaller moves, Luca de la Torre is now at Heracles Almelo and is in a good position to start for the Eredivisie club. Romain Gall is looking to reboot his career and is now on loan at Orebro in Sweden and Marlon Fossey has now left Fulham to sign with League One side Shrewsbury Town as he looks to begin life as a first-team player. The same can be said for Mukwelle Akale who left Villarreal’s setup to join Pafos FC in Cyprus.
Elsewhere, Emmanuel Sabbi has formally joined OB from Hobro. Also, in Denmark, Haji Wright is with Sonderjyske after a tough season at VVV. Erik Palmer-Brown elected not to move and will return for another loan at Austria Vienna.
We’ve also seen some first-team promotions. Cameron Harper is one of the best players on the U.S. U-20 team and the winger has been on the bench for Celtic the last three games. While he has gone as an unused substitute each time, his debut seems to be coming.
Also, in an exciting development Konrad de la Fuente has been training with Barcelona’s first team as it prepares for life without Messi. It remains a massive uphill climb to earn minutes with Barcelona but de la Fuente has a unique opportunity ahead of him.
Who is left to move?
There are some obvious candidates who will move in the weeks ahead.
Christian Cappis is almost sure to move as he is simply beyond a now second-tier Danish team in Hobro. It is a bit of a surprising that he hasn’t moved yet but there are a lot of possibilities. For one, Hobro might be demanding too a high a fee. Or clubs that are interested in Cappis might have to sell players to make room for the Texan. But this one should get sorted out sooner than later as reality will set in.
Cameron Carter-Vickers has been playing for Tottenham’s first team during the preseason and has generally been playing well, despite an error over the weekend which led to a goal. Tottenham would gladly sell if a suitor offered a right price. But if not, would Tottemham settle for less or would it just keep Carter-Vickers around as a backup? That would probably be the worst scenario for Carter-Vickers because he’s already spent a season as a first-team back-up. He just needs to play. It will be interesting decisions for Tottenham because there are Championship clubs like Luton Town who would love to have him but who probably can’t afford the asking price. So Tottenham either keeps Carter-Vickers, a bigger club comes in and pays the asking price, or Tottenham drops the asking prices substantially to accommodate immediate buyers.
Matt Miazga is not coming back for another loan at Reading – according to recent statements from Reading. He is likely a player who is on the move sooner than later. While he is a known player in the Championship, a move back to the continent is also possible. His Polish passport opens doors in a lot of places and Italy, Holland, and Germany could be potential destinations.
Chris Richards has almost certainly outgrown Bayern Munich II and it is hard to see how another season there benefits him. So, the realistic options are backup on the first team or a loan. A backup could be interesting but an entire season with limited minutes might see diminishing returns as the season goes on – even for the best team in the world. Maybe a loan in January might be in the cards while he has a few months as a back-up with the first team? Nothing is settled yet but there are different options at play.
Zack Steffen is in a similar boat to Richards in deciding between a loan or serving as a back-up at a world-class club. But Steffen is much further along in his career and has set a high floor as a solid Bundesliga starter. The question comes down to the shape of his knee. If he is healthy, the doors are open pretty much anywhere.
Fabian Johnson and Eric Lichaj: The two veteran fullbacks are both free agents. Johnson likely has teams interested in Germany but it will require a pay cut anywhere he goes. Lichaj is in the same boat although he is still a solid Championship player and probably won’t require as stiff of a reduction in salary.
Cannon to Boavista?
Since last week, it has been assumed that Cannon will be heading to Boavista. From what ASN has heard, that is still the likely landing place although no deal is done yet. It might not be until the end of this week or into next week once it is done.
What to make of this deal?
Well, there are a bunch of ways to look at it. In one sense, Americans have had very little success in Portugal. On the other hand, Cannon is a pretty experienced professional and he is not going to one of the top teams in the league. After the traditional powers in Portugal, the top-flight drops off quite a bit.
This is a deal which, should it happen, would give Cannon an introduction to Europe. If he shows well, he probably won’t stay at Boavista long. There is the pathway to Lille and there are other avenues as well as he would play in front of more scouts (including Portugal’s big teams) and his stature would also improve with more U.S. national team call-ups.
For FC Dallas, the sale of one of the team’s homegrown players needed to happen to prove it can complete the circle of develop, play, hopefully win, and then sell. It has sold Alex Zendejas, Carlos Gruezo, and now possibly Cannon. But Cannon’s status as a homegrown and a U.S. national team player puts him under a bigger spotlight. In the end, this is good for its academy.
Weah returns, Boyd injured
Tim Weah’s return was a big story from the weekend. The 20 year old New Yorker played the final 11 minutes plus stoppage time in Lille’s 1-0 away win over Reims. It was encouraging because Weah was active and looked solid during his minutes on the field.
Weah is coming off a lost season where he suffered a hamstring injury in August 2019 and then reinjured the hamstring in February during his first game back. Now a year later since his first injury, he is back and Lille is almost certainly going to pace itself with bringing Weah back.
Weah is another American playing at a high level, but like Christian Pulisic and Tyler Adams, is one that also needs it to be a priority to stay healthy. That should be the top goal in 2020/21. Missing a lot of time this season on the heels of a lost season could be a major problem.
On the flip side, Besiktas announced that U.S. national team winger Tyler Boyd suffered a PCL injury in his knee and would miss time. The club did not provide information whether surgery would be required or how much time he would miss.
There were a lot of Americans who put in some noteworthy preseason performances.
Julian Green has been in fine form for Greuther Furth as it prepares for its 2.Bundesliga season. On Friday he scored two goals against Borussia Monchengladbach and today he scored the third goal in a 3-0 win over Jahn Regensburg. Greuther Furth is coming into a season where it wants to contend for promotion and having a consistent Green is key.
Duane Holmes was injured with three games remaining in the season for Derby County and he made his first appearance since then in a 2-0 loss to Sheffield United on Tuesday. He spoke to the media after the game acknowledging that staying healthy is a huge priority for him.
DeAndre Yedlin had a rough day on Tuesday when he earned the start for Newcastle in a 5-1 loss to Middlesbrough. He left in the 67th with the score 4-1. Yedlin’s big contract makes it tough for him to move but over the past year it seems as he needs a change of scenery.
Josh Sargent impressed over the weekend for Werder Bremen when he scored the opening goal in a 4-0 win over Groningen of the Eredivisie. IT was a skillful goal in the box and what was the best news for the American forward was when head coach Florian Kohfeldt pretty much said that Sargent was entering into the season as the starting forward. Of course, the pressure is on Werder Bremen to play well to avoid another relegation battle.
Matthew Hoppe is one to watch this season. The U.S. U-20 forward is doing exceptionally well this preseason for Schalke II after a lackluster season with the club’s U-19 team where he scored just three goals in 17 games. But in the preseason for Schalke’s reserve team, he has five goals and five assists in six preseason games. That is impressive even if it is coming against low-level competition. On Saturday he scored a winner in a 2-1 victory over SG Wattenscheid. But what makes this important to note is that Schalke’s first team is in rough shape and could be staring at a relegation battle. Their finances are poor and it will have to look internally for options during the season.
Early season notes
There were two really good stories over the weekend in Americans abroad and they involve the backgrounds of players who had success.
First, Aron Johannsson, 29, scored a brace for Hammarby in a 3-3 draw over Kalmar. He now has four goals and an assist over his last six games. After a brutal six years (since the 2014 World Cup) where he has been injured most of the time, Johannsson is finally having a nice run of success in Sweden’s top flight. He’s been through a lot and has continued to fight through injury after injury.
Finally, Joe Efford, scored in the Belgian top flight for Waasland Beveren in a 3-1 loss to OH Leuven. Efford now has a goal and an assist in three appearances for Waasland. But his story is pretty neat and it shows perseverance.
American winger Joe Efford’s goal for Waasland Beveren https://t.co/kttSaoNrLa— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) August 29, 2020
He initially enrolled in college at UNC-Greensboro but bailed on school during his freshman orientation to trial in Europe. Eventually he signed in Romania with Boto?ani but had his contract terminated after a month. Then he signed for Mallorca in Spain’s segunda but lost a season with visa issues. He the spent three seasons in Greece’s second tier with Egotelis in Crete (a former club of Clint Mathis) and did well. After his contract he signed with Waasland Beveren which finished last in Belgium’s top flight in 2019/20 but managed to avoid relegation via a lawsuit. It’ll be a challenge to stay up but Efford’s success could be a boost to its survival hopes.