Americans abroad analysis
Americans abroad preseason: Transfers near, games heat up, seasons approach
July 20, 2021
THE PRESEASON IN EUROPE ROLLS ON and there is a lot to break down among the many Americans over there trying to improve their standing ahead of the current season. There are also still a number of transfers still in the works – and at varying stages.
Most of the players are back in preseason and there is a huge number of American players who have new managers – Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson, John Brooks, Antonee Robinson, Tim Ream, Josh Sargent, and Weston McKennie are just some the prominent players currently trying to learn the system of new managers in preseason.
It’s definitely a far different transfer marker than in previous years. Money is more limited due to COVID and teams do not have the resources to spend the amounts they did in 2019. You’re seeing more loans than before. Clubs are often interested in players, but have to sell players before they can buy, and this creates a logjam. It’s a harder market to move.
Here is a breakdown of some of the top stories for Americans from both on the field and in the transfer market as the offseason heats up.
Americans out of MLS
The move for Gianluca Busio, 19, to Venezia is nearly complete and the young homegrown has had a nice season for Sporting Kansas City where he has played a deeper-lying No. 6 position. This will be a fascinating transfer to watch unfold because Busio has a lot of skill but can struggle with the defensive side – with duel winning, with closing down on defenders, and with forcing turnovers.
Venezia is a newly promoted team that will need to find ways to grind out results with all players pitching in defensively. Busio is going to have to hit the ground running.
It will also telling to see how Busio fits in with Tanner Tessmann – the other American midfielder heading to Venezia. He is also another talented player whose position has never been completely defined and also has to raise his game defensively.
Sam Vines, 22, is also set to depart Colorado for Royal Antwerp – which finished third in Belgium last season. The move could be completed this week. Vines has steadily progressed in his years with Colorado and is deservedly in the national team picture.
Along with other moves like Christian Ramirez moving to Aberdeen – and it is still important for moves, even among older players, to happen for players outside the national team picture – it has been a productive transfer season the MLS-based American players.
There is also the potential move for more. Chris Mueller has been linked in Belgium but money is probably going to also be relevant and if Orlando can step up with a big offer, he might reup. His teammate, Daryl Dike, will continue to have a lot of interest but nothing appears imminent – but that could quickly change.
Bayern Munich remains interested in FC Dallas defender Justin Che and the partnership between Dallas and Bayern will continue to keep Che in the mix for a move. For now, however, Che is getting quality games with the FC Dallas first team.
MLS teams are doing their part by keeping the cycle going. As they sell players, more players are quickly emerging. This January could be an even bigger window for several reasons. First, more European teams could have more money. Second, most MLS teams are more inclined to sell in the winter. Third, there is a good chance U.S. youth national teams could be back up and running in the fall. That will only increase platforms.
Richards and Booth at Bayern
Chris Richards continues to be linked for another loan to Hoffenheim – which makes perfect sense. Hoffenheim rates him and it is his best chance of getting Bundesliga minutes. A loan to another club would pose too many risks.
For now, Richards is likely to remain with Bayern for awhile in preseason until Bayern is at full strength – injuries and international commitments have limited its roster. The topic of Richards returning to Hoffenheim seems likely to be revisited in a few weeks.
Taylor Booth, 20, meanwhile started and assisted for Bayern in a 3-2 preseason loss to FC Koln.
Taylor Booth assists for Bayern Munich in preseason match vs Koln. He played the first 45 minutes in a young squad for Bayern pic.twitter.com/uZ311iie00— Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) July 17, 2021
The early stages of preseason for big clubs isn’t an accurate stage to determine if a player is in a club’s plans. Booth is coming off a loan from St. Poelten in Austria and despite the club’s relegation, he played well. There are indeed offers on the table for Booth – with teams in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, and Italy – looking to bring him in. Bayern will eventually agree to one, probably once it starts having its top players involved in preseason.
De la Fuente impresses at OM
In terms of “newer” American players who have a chance to have important breakthroughs in 2021/22, Konrad de la Fuente is a good bet. He’s not necessarily a new player for American fans as he’s already played with the full national team, but De la Fuente is still yet to make a first team professional league appearance.
De la Fuente, 20, has impressed so far in preseason at Marseille, including two quality assists in a 3-1 win over Servette in Switzerland’s Super League.
Konrad de la Fuente ???????? (OM) vs Servette pic.twitter.com/bLPYf57Kk6— Glophar (@Glophar) July 16, 2021
De la Fuente is in a good spot right now to make big strides.
Sargent scores again
Last week, Josh Sargent scored a hat trick against a low-level opponent in a 12-0 win. Those types of games are common in the early stages of the German preseason and they’re nothing more than a training exercise for the better team.
But over the weekend, Sargent scored against for Werder Bremen in a 2-1 loss to Feyenoord. Despite the loss, that is a real indication that Sargent is playing with confidence and maybe a bit of anger after last season. His goal against Feyenoord was outstanding.
This is not the early preseason either. The 2.Bundesliga season opens this weekend with Werder Bremen hosting Hannover on Saturday.
Sargent, 21, is probably the victim of the poor transfer market right now. Sure, a deal could emerge at any point, but if money is tight, he still carries with him some risk. He hasn’t always produced in the Bundesliga and for teams with money, he’s probably a backup. Meanwhile, Werder is in an awkward position. It would love the money from a sale, but it also needs players to get back to the Bundesliga.
Sargent looks set to start the season for Werder Bremen but a deal could emerge if another team picks up an injury or sells a forward and needs a quick replacement.
Cappis makes Brondby debut
Christian Cappis, 21, made his debut for defending Danish champions Brondby on Sunday in the Superliga opener away at AGF Aarhus. Cappis came into the game in the 62nd minute with Brondby trailing 1-0 and nearly scored minutes after coming on.
The Texan played well in his minutes off the bench and built a case for more minutes. He is a player to watch in American soccer circles after a very difficult year which featured relegation and deportation due to questionable decisions made by his former club, Hobro.
In this game, Cappis passed well and handled the physical side of the game very well. He has a lot of positive attributes for a central midfielder and if he can claim a starting job at Brondby, it would be very impressive for his resume.
Like many European leagues outside of the “Big Five” the Danish league is very top heavy. Brondby is the defending champion and has the chance to contend for the title this year.
Americans have had success in Denmark before, but it has been awhile. Michael Parkhurst won the Danish title in 2011/12 along with two Danish Cups. Danny Califf won the title with Aalborg in 2007/08 and was also the Superliga Defender of the Year.
Wright moving to Turkey
Haji Wright, 23, is seemingly close to a move to Antalyaspor. The deal has been reported but nothing is announced. In the meantime, all the boxes are being checked. He didn’t play for Sonderjyske in its Danish opener. He’s posted an picture of himself in Turkey on Instagram.
Deals in Turkey can sometimes be unusual, and fall apart quickly. Heath Pearce had his move to Turkey fall apart even after the deal was announced and a press conference was scheduled.
Assuming this goes through, it will be a big test for Wright whose only success in his career came last season in Sonderjyske when he scored 11 goals. Prior to that, he struggled at Schalke, Sandhausen, and VVV Venlo. Turkey is an older league and defenders are often experienced. It will certainly be a different type of test for Wright and Antalyaspor recently finished in 16th place – so he might be involved in a relegation battle.
It’s certainly a risk for Wright to bolt so quickly from the one place he’s had success but if he’s confident, he might be poised for success.
Loan army players
The current situations for the loan army players isn’t great. Matt Miazga is training with Chelsea and played over the weekend in a closed-door friendly. Cameron Carter-Vickers started Saturday’s friendly for Tottenham – although neither player are likely to remain with each club.
Both players are looking for permanent deals. Carter-Vickers has been linked with Premier League and Championship clubs. Miazga has apparently had loan offers but wants a permanent deal.
Champions League qualifiers.
There are a bunch of Americans involved in first leg of Champions League qualifiers this week.
Henry Wingo and Ferencvaros host Zalgiris Vilnius on Tuesday.
Mix Diskerud and Omonia Nicosia visit Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.
Jordan Pefok and BSC Young Boys visit Slovan Bratislava on Wednesday.
DeAndre Yedlin and Galatasaray visit PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday.
Weah’s big preseason
Will this be the season Tim Weah breaks through at Lille? That remain to be seen. After a lost season in 2019/2020, Weah rebounded in 2020/21 and was part of Lille’s Ligue 1 championship team where he regularly came off the bench and scored three goals over 827 minutes.
Weah, 21, is still yet to have a season where he cracks 1000 minutes and plays regularly at the club level. He showed he was capable of that last season but Lille was a hard team to break into.
The tough financial conditions that many Ligue 1 teams find themselves in now could work to Weah’s favor. The television deal for the league has yielded little money so clubs are more inclined to remain with players they have under contract.
As for Weah, he is now more physically ready and has the benefit of a full preseason. Today he scored in an int
???? Despite the best efforts of their coach @MandavaReinildo, the team in white went down to the reds ????— LOSC Lille EN (@LOSC_EN) July 20, 2021
???? 5??(Lihadji, Yilmaz, Botman, Yilmaz, Ikoné)
?? 4??(Araujo, Weah, David, Araujo)pic.twitter.com/NI2KX2BnnU
McKenzie & Genk lose Super Cup
It is an important preseason for Mark McKenzie who arrived at Genk in the midseason break from Philadelphia. This preseason is about him impressing and solidifying a spot in the starting XI. Last season he played mostly off the bench but was able to get back into the starting XI due to injuries. This is an important time for him to build that case.
On Sunday, McKenzie played well for Genk in a 3-2 loss to Belgian Champions in the Super Cup. Despite the loss, McKenzie played relatively well on the left side of a three central defense set up.
The central defense setup with the U.S. national team is up for grabs and securing a starting spot is important for McKenzie. We will know more on Friday when Genk visits Standard Liege in the season opener.