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Godfrey's Column

10 MLS Players Who Could Move Abroad in January

Should they stay or should they go? These Americans currently play in MLS, but they might want to consider their options overseas during the upcoming January transfer window.
BY John Godfrey Posted
December 11, 2012
5:00 AM
Last week I wrote a piece for the New York Times Goal blog suggesting that five Americans currently playing in Major League Soccer might want to move to bigger, better (or at least better-paying) leagues elsewhere.

The athletes I identified in that article: Juan Agudelo, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Dan Kennedy, and Graham Zusi. These aren't the only five Yanks who could make a positive impression abroad, certainly, so now I'd like to round out the list with a few more names.

1. Brek Shea
His stock may have dropped, but Shea's talent remains intact. His breakout 2011 bled in to a disappointing 2012, but what does 2013 have in store for the promising talent? Hard to say, but as all smart investors know, it's always better to buy low. Don't be shocked if Shea leaves MLS in January. And don't be surprised if he leaves to join a big-name club that sees the big picture with the big winger.
Possible destination: England, France, Germany

2. Omar Gonzalez
Last January, Gonzalez joined the Bundesliga side Nuremberg on loan but sustained a serious knee injury on the first day of training when he collided with Timothy Chandler. Dejected but determined, Gonzalez rehabbed, recovered, reinstated himself in the Galaxy’s starting lineup and reestablished himself as one of the top two or three defenders in M.L.S. He should go back and do it again, perhaps even with Nuremberg. The 6-foot-5 Gonzalez, a central defender, has a polarizing effect on U.S. soccer fans. Many feel he should be starting for the national team right now. Others argue that he is too slow and will be exposed and undone by international competition. Let’s find out.
Possible destination: Germany

3. Graham Zusi
In the space of one calendar year Zusi has established himself as one of the best midfielders in MLS and he has become a first-choice starter for the United States national team. Currently ranked No. 10 in the ASN 100, Zusi seems ready to reach loftier heights. Given his recent strong showings for both club and country, now would be a great time for the 26-year-old Zusi to move abroad. He could catch on with a lower-tier English Premier League team and work his way into the rotation. He has the technical skills to succeed in Spain, too. Now is his time. But will he take action?
Possible destination: England, Spain

4. Landon Donovan
WIth Everton, Donovan smiled a lot more. Playing in Liverpool, where he doesn't feel the pressure of being the face of an entire league, he can focus on his game and have some fun. The Goodison Park faithful love Donovan, and a few raucous "U-S-A! U-S-A!" chants might be just the sort of thing to inspire Donovan to enjoy his soccer again.
Possible destination: Everton

5. Juan Agudelo
Agudelo is already in Glasgow, training with Celtic. Coach Neil Lennon likes the 20-year-old striker, and the 20-year-old striker likes the idea of scoring goals in front of huge crowds of screaming Scots; playing in the Champions League every year; and, presumably, getting paid a lot more money. It will be fascinating to see if Celtic is willing to pay for Agudelo's services, as Chivas USA and MLS will no doubt be looking to get every penny they can for the wantaway forward.
Possible destination: Scotland

6. Brad Davis
Davis is 31. He’s been in MLS for a decade, and in that time he has made countless brilliant crosses; won multiple trophies and awards; and established himself as one of the unsung stars of the league. Does Davis have anything left to prove in MLS? No he does not. And wouldn't that lethal left foot come in handy for an English Championship side looking to make a push for promotion? It absolutely would. True, Davis might struggle to secure a U.K. work permit, but I for one would love to see him play a few years overseas before he hangs up his boots for good.
Possible destination: England

7. Chris Wondolowski
See Brad Davis, above. The San Jose Earthquakes striker has nothing left to prove in MLS, having scored 61 goals over the last three seasons. If Wondo wants to make a run toward inclusion on the 2014 U.S. World Cup roster, he would be better served playing with Reading or Crystal Palace or Mainz, where the competition for playing time will force him to be at his very best 365 days a year.
Possible destination: England, Germany

8. Benny Feilhaber
The New England Revolution recently severed ties with Feilhaber, and the Brazilian-born 27-year-old is too talented, and too young, to retire. He could probably find another MLS club, but why would that produce better results than his disappointing 2012? The technically proficient Feilhaber needs to challenge himself if he wants to stay in the national team mix. Mexico perhaps? Why not?
Possible destination: Mexico

9. Dan Kennedy
If there's a better goalkeeper in MLS right now, I haven't seen him. And if Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, and Brad Friedel are any indication, the best goalkeepers in MLS tend to do quite well when they leave the U.S. for Europe. A move overseas for Kennedy would have the beneficial side effect of getting him out of the Superfund site that is Chivas USA.
Possible destination: Netherlands, Norway

10. Matt Besler
Carlos Bocanegra parlayed the 2002 and 2003 MLS Defender of the Year awards into a prosperous European career. Michael Parkhurst took his 2007 MLS Defender of the Year trophy to Denmark and is now one of the top-ranked Americans in Europe. Is there one good reason why the 2012 winner, Sporting Kansas City's Matt Besler, shouldn't follow their examples? Yes, the Overland Park, Kansas, native is currently playing for his hometown team—which must be pretty cool—but he can do that again in seven or eight years after he's made a name for himself in Europe and on the U.S. national team.
Possible destination: Belgium, England

Which of these players are likely to leave MLS? Did we leave out any players who might be candidates? Please leave your thoughts in the (new and improved) Comments section below.

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