73117_isi_carter-vickerscameron_intjmr072217158 Jeremy Reper/isiphotos.com
Americans Abroad

Miazga, Rubin, Diskerud & CCV at Career Crossroads

Some fringe players in the U.S. national team pool are hoping to parlay preseason performances into regular playing time—or perhaps a change of scenery—as they look to establish their careers.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
July 31, 2017
7:00 PM

WITH AUGUST UPON US, the European preseason begins an important stage as many coaches are now fine-tuning their teams for the start of the season. Here is a rundown of the top stories affecting Americans playing overseas.

Miazga returns to Vitesse

On Friday we learned that United States national team central defender Matt Miazga would Chelsea for another year, going on loan to Vitesse.

While some speculated over the weekend whether or not this is a good loan for the New Jersey native, there should be no debate. It is a great move. Yes, some felt that he should seek a better level of play after a strong finish to the 2016-17 season where he broke into the starting lineup and helped the club win the Dutch Cup, its first-ever major trophy.

The truth, however, is that Miazga needs minutes, stability, and responsibility—and Vitesse offers all three. He will now return to a club that knows him and values him. That will help him avoid moving to a fourth club since 2015. He can now assume the responsibility of anchoring a backline with a club that has qualified for the Europa League, allowing him to make the transition from prospect to mature player.

Above all, Miazga needs minutes. Looking at things from a calendar year, Miazga had a great 2015 with the Red Bulls where he became one of the best central defenders in the league en route to helping his team win the Supporters Shield. He played 2,698 minutes that year for the Red Bulls.

In 2016, he stayed with Chelsea for the first half of 2016 and while the training was intense his minutes were limited. Then he went on loan to Vitesse toward the end of the year but still had not broken into the starting lineup except during times when there was an injury to a regular central defender. By the end of 2016, he had played in 11 games, amassing just 726 minutes. 

The best way to help Miazga, 22, reverse that trend is to remain at Vitesse where he doesn’t have to go through the process of proving himself again. So far in 2017 he has played 1,225 minutes for Vitesse and should finishover 2,500 by the end of the year if he remains as a starter.

Miazga has the ability to be one of the best American central defenders and a key part of the national team. But at this age, he needs to play and not stagnate. He has already made some impressive strides mentally in fighting for minutes when things didn’t go his way and avoiding rust after a long period of not seeing the field.

Carter-Vickers desperately needs a loan

In a conference call with reporters shortly after naming the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster, head coach Tab Ramos perfectly summarized the problem facing Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers, one of the top American central defense prospects.

“This time around, he's been on Tottenham’s first team and obviously Tottenham is one of probably the top 10 teams in the world today so that's a great place to be,” Ramos said in May. “Unfortunately, because of that, he hasn't been able to play as many games as he played the year before. So he's gone from playing anywhere between 40-55 games in a year to now playing only 10 or eight—and that's difficult for a young player.”

Over the last 12 months, Carter-Vickers minutes have dropped off dramatically since he is not getting reserve minutes and is on the bench for the first team. It should be of little surprise he has shown signs of rust to start preseason. Last week he started two friendlies during Tottenham's U.S. tour and failed to impress.

Against Roma in a 3-2 loss he struggled before being subbed out at halftime and then later in the week against Manchester City he played better but still conceded a penalty in a 3-0 loss.

Back in May, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said Carter-Vickers was going to be one of the young players that would see more minutes with the first team in 2017-18 but after the Roma game the coach was singing a different tune: “"For young players like him it will take time to make the first team.”

It is true that being on Spurs offers the opportunity to train with some of the best players in the world. But the value of quality training has a shelf-life. At some point Carter-Vickers needs to play regularly. The odd cup game or reserve minutes just is not going to help him grow as a player. Hovering around the fringes of the first team can be misleading as it gives the appearance that he is close to seeing regular minutes. But last year he made the bench in 16 Premier League games and did not play one minute. Another season like that would be massively detrimental.

He needs a loan sooner, not later.

Danny Williams picks up assist

What kind of chance will English Premier League side Huddersfield Town have of avoiding relegation? Most pundits are predicting it to head right back down to the Championship but a lot could come down to the way American central midfielder Danny Williams plays. The German-American is likely going to be a big part of the team’s plans in terms of controlling the play and shielding the backline.

Of course, Huddersfield is extremely well-managed—by former U.S. national team forward David Wagner—and last week Williams demonstrated he is ready for the season to begin, picking up an assist in a friendly vs. Udinese.

Rubio Rubin Heads to Stabaek

Rubio Rubin is now on trial with Stabaek in Norway, the latest downward move for a player who was once considered one of America’s top prospects. He was transferred from Utrecht to Silkeborg IF earlier this year before being released.

Norwegian publication Budstikka spoke to Rubin, 21, after his first training session

"It's my first day here and I feel a bit rusty, but it's fine," Rubin said. "There are many young players here and it is good to see so many young and motivated players on the training field. I like to find a place to play football and I want to return to the level I want to be on."

At 18, Rubin was a regular Eredivisie starter and even earned call-ups to the U.S. national team but a leg injury in 2016 sidelined him for months and he never seemed to return to the level he was when he first broke through. If confidence is central to his struggles, perhaps a spell in Norway can only help him get back on track.

John Brooks scores against Fulham

After setting the record price for the transfer of an American player, John Brooks is impressing in preseason for VFL Wolfsburg as he hopes to lead the relegation-threatened club back toward the top of the Bundesliga.

On Saturday Brooks started in a friendly against a Fulham team featuring American central defender Tim Ream. Brooks was sharp on both sides of the ball after he scored the opening goal of a 3-0 win and made some impressive defensive plays

At times Brooks can look world class but he lacks consistency. Perhaps a change of scenery will do the trick and bring some stability to his game. If that happens, Brooks has the talent and potential to move into the top tier of world defenders.

Diskerud approaches end of loan

While his club is not in preseason, Mix Diskerud's status is worth monitoring. On loan to IFK Goteborg in Sweden’s Allsvenskan, Diskerud has shown some positive moments despite the club underperforming at 10th place in the 16-team league.

On Sunday, Diskerud had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over Norrköping in what was likely the team’s best performance of the season.

The Norwegian-born Diskerud, 26, fell out of favor last year with New York City FC under Patrick Vieira and the team was able to send him back to Scandinavia for loan that will run through August. Diskerud has not been in the U.S. national team picture since March 2016 and new manager Bruce Arena has yet to mention him.

What will New York City do with Diskerud? His $772,669 annual salary is high by MLS standards and well beyond what any team in the league would be willing to pay right now. But with Goteborg in the bottom of the table, does it have any interest in keeping him? 

Jann George opens 2.Bundesliga account

German-American forward Jann George, 25, has bounced around the lower leagues in Germany his entire career but last season he helped SSV Jahn Regensburg earn promotion from the 3.Liga to the 2.Bundesliga with a 10-goal season. To this day, his lone international involvement was a U.S. U-23 call-up by coach Caleb Porter in December 2011.

In the 2.Bundesliga opener on Saturday, Jahn Regensburg fell to Arminia Bielefeld but George gave Jahn Regensburg a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute with a very nice run and finish. Unfortunately his team could not hold the lead conceding goals in the 39th minute and second-half stoppage time. Here is George’s goal.

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