Americans abroad analysis

Robinson nears Sheffield United move, Harkes & Durkin win, & more

Antonee Robinson looks set for his big move to a top league as he nears a deal with Sheffield United. Elsewhere, Chris Durkin and Ian Harkes are both off to strong starts to the season while Weston McKennie might have a new home soon. Finally, Aron Johannsson scored, suffered a minor injury, and should be back soon. ASN's Brian Sciaretta reports. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
August 10, 2020
7:45 AM

THE WEEKEND for Americans abroad wrapped up and for the most part, it was a lot more involved than usual – despite all of the major European leagues being complete. The transfer window looks as if it will be quite active and the first movement for an American within the top leagues looks to be nearing completion.

On top of that, the seasons are starting in some leagues, the new Champions League draw for the qualifying stages is complete, and other Americans are heavily involved in preseason.

First, a major tip of the hat has to go to U.S. U-20 winger Konrad de la Fuente who made the bench for Barcelona for Saturday’s Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Napoli. Barcelona ended up winning 3-1 (4-2 on aggregate) but de la Fuente did not play. Still, de la Fuente became the first ever American player to make the matchday roster for Barcelona.

The Miami-born de la Fuente was one of seven players from Barcelona B to be included on the roster and Barcelona B recently advanced to the final of the promotional playoffs in the third tier where it came up just short. Still, de la Fuente has impressed mightily for the second division side. While it is tough situation to read just how highly he is rated given the injury problems plaguing the first team, he is clearly a very promising player and it was a memorable occasion for the 2019 U-20 World Cup veteran.

Robinson nears Sheffield United move

ASN recently had an extended feature on Antonee Robinson, 22, where he talked about his past season and the upcoming transfer window. With Wigan’s relegation affirmed in the appeals court (despite its strong performance on the field), it was always likely Robinson was going to be on the move. As a young and fast left back, he was the most sell-able asset. Plus, his contract called for a cheap price-tag of £1.5 due to the relegation.


On Friday, Sky Sports reported that Robinson was nearing a deal to Sheffield United which finishd ninth in the Premier League last season. Per the report from Sky, Wigan accepted a bid from Sheffield United for £2 million and there were other Premier League clubs interested – one being West Ham United.

All that remains to complete the deal is finalizing personal terms and clearing a medical (which is where his move to AC Milan fell through in January). But Robinson is now fit and was one of Wigan’s top performers down the stretch where it lost just once in its last 15 games.

One quick takeaway would be that it would be a big step up for Robinson but it would be for a club where the competition is difficult but reasonable – unlike at AC Milan. Robinson wants to play but will have to be out Irish international Enda Stevens, 30, for the left back job to see the field. In March, Stevens signed a contract extension with Sheffield United through 2023. Stevens is a good player and was recently nominated for the FAI Player of the Season but Robinson has more potential offensively.

But going to a Premier League will always mean more competition for any player. But Sheffield United is a team that had realistic chances for Europe this year and that will be the goal next season. Robinson showed tremendous growth in his game last season. He wasn’t simply the athletic fullback who could bomb forward, he also showcased far more defensive capabilities than in the past and he is now battle tested having been involved in three straight relegation battles.

It might take some time, but Robinson has talent to see the field regularly in the Premier League.


Johannsson scores for Hammarby

Aron Johannsson, 29, has had a career plagued by injury and that is partly why he is with Hammarby and not Werder Bremen. The Alabama-born, Icelandic-raised forward signed for Hammarby last year and is now a starting forward when healthy.

On Sunday, Hammarby hosted Djurgardens and Johannsson scored his first Allvenskan goal in the fourth minute (he had two in the Swedish Cup this year). But then in the 21st minute, Johannsson was subbed out with an injury.

Fortunately, through twitter, Johannsson was able to address his status and he revealed this injury is indeed minor. Here is the goal and the update.

Durkin & St. Truiden win opener

It was a weird opening weekend Belgium’s Jupiler League as the top two teams from 2019/2020, Club Brugge and Gent, both lost. Gent’s loss came at the hands of a 2-1 defeat at the hands of St. Truiden.

After spending the second half of last season there on loan from DC United, Chris Durkin completed a transfer to the club and went a full 90 in the big win over the 2019/20 runner’s up.

Some notes from Durkin’s performance:

  • 90 minutes
  • 43 touches
  • 75% passing (21/28)
  • 2/4 accurate in long balls

For a club that finished 12th in the 16-team league last season, this was a big start to the season.

Efford makes top-flight debut

Staying in the Belgian top flight, Georgia native Joe Efford, 23, made his first appearance for Waasland-Beveren and earned an assist in the club’s season opener, a 3-1 win over Kortrijk. Efford played a full 90 and his assist came in stoppage time to complete the scoring.

Efford has bounced around Europe in his career, in the second tier of Greece after starting in Romania. Now he’s on Waasland-Beveren, which is in Belgium’s top flight despite finishing 2019/20 in last place. The club avoided relegation thanks to a lawsuit over the shortened COVID-19 season.


Harkes & Dundee United win


Things are looking great for Ian Harkes right now. Last season he helped Dundee United to promotion and was named to the Scottish Championship team of the season. In the opening weekend, a 1-1 with St. Johnstone, he was named to the Premiership team of the week.

Over the weekend, Dundee United defeated Motherwell 1-0 on the road and Harkes started and played 77 minutes. He was replaced by fellow American Dillon Powers who made his Premiership debut when he helped see out the win.

For Harkes, things are trending up after a rough ending to his time with DC United.

Mckennie on the move?


It’s looking very unlikely that Weston McKennie will return to Schalke and his name is being linked to numerous reports across Europe. At first it was Everton, Hertha BSC, and Southampton. Now L'Equipe reports that AS Monaco is about to enter the market.

Schalke’s terrible financial situation likely means the club is eager to sell but will such eagerness allow them to match their target amount of reportedly €25 million.

The transfer window is often full of nonsense reporting but it’s fairly obvious that McKennie has to leave. Schalke is a low-point and McKennie is their most sellable asset. He is a 21-year old midfielder who is has a very athletic and physical build, he can be a very effective defensive player and he has the ability to make some game-changing passes. He also has Champions League experience and started for the club when it finished second in the Bundesliga.

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