DAVID SMITH - Thursday, June 30, 2016
With the summer transfer season in session, a number of Americans are on the move throughout the less covered leagues in Germany.
Ryan Malone's move to Regionalliga club Kickers Stuttgart has finally been reported as complete by 3rd League specialty news site liga3-online.de. He joins on a free transfer after FC Magdeburg chose not to renew his contract.
Malone had been training with the the Kickers since they started their pre-season training camp last week, and has featured in their warm-up games.
Considering his promising showing with Magdeburg last season - albeit cut drastically short by injuries - it would not be a surprise for the Massachusetts native to slot directly into the starting role.
Kickers were relegated from 3. Liga last season by the narrowest of margins after falling behind two other teams who finished on the same number of points, due to the tiebreakers of goal differential in one case, and total goals scored in the other. They are scheduled to start their season on August 5, although no exact schedule is out yet.
Another team playing in the same division added an American this week; former LA Galaxy all-rounder Bryan Gaul joined Frankfurt-area club Kickers Offenbach on a one-year contract.
Gaul played in the same division with Bahlinger SC during the spring, who were relegated to the fifth-division Oberliga Baden-Württemberg after finishing the season 14th.
Gaul's new team Offenbach are beginning their fourth season in the Regionalliga after being relegated from the 3rd Liga in 2013. They came agonizingly close to being promoted in 2015 after winning the division, but were beaten by Magdeburg in the final step of the playoff by a 4-1 aggregate score.
Gaul started in the final 10 games of last season for Bahlinger, scoring three goals and notching one assist in the process, and could be in line to be a major contributor for Offenbach. They are once again one of the favorites to compete for a spot in the promotion playoffs.
Gaul's now-former club Bahlinger still has an American lineup, having already signed 21 year-old striker Piakai Henkel several weeks ago. Henkel has previously featured on multiple occasions for the United States U-18 squad.
Despite his young age, Henkel's career has already brought him to several global destinations, having played in the youth academies of PSG and SC Amiens in France, for the reserve team of Fagiano Okayama in Japan, and more recently for SV Linx in Germany's sixth division.
Also in the fifth-tier Oberliga Baden-Württemberg, SC Freiburg's reserve squad, who were also relegated from the Regionalliga last season, looks set to lose the services of one American, keeper Zack Steffen.
Steffen will, however, remain in Freiburg as various media outlets are reporting that he will receive a promotion to the first team where he will serve as the third keeper on their Bundesliga squad.