KENYA BROWN - Thursday, June 23, 2011
June 1 was the official start of the summer transfer season and as usual the rumors as to who is going where has reached a fever pitch by the media. Talk of big money transfers by the top clubs, free agent signings and those players that want out of their current clubs will, without a doubt, fill every newspaper, magazine or online site.
While the likes of Real Madrid midfielder Kaka, Inter Milan starlet Wesley Sneijder, Atletico Madrid hitman Sergio Aguero and Santos wunderkind Neymar will be the center of attention this summer, the transfer of some Americans may go under the radar.
The signing of former US international Brad Friedel by English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur last week kicked off the transfer moves for a handful of Americans who might be looking at possible moves to clubs where they can get the chance at playing time.
With recent edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup underway and qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup coming up, there are several players within the US national team who could be changing clubs this summer in order to remain in contention for spot on the team should the US qualify for the finals in Brazil.
Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan)
A couple of years ago, the former Clemson Tiger was seen as an indispensible member not only the US national team, but also his former team, Standard Liege of the Belgian Juliper League. A move to Italian powerhouse AC Milan in 2009 put the towering defender in a bigger spotlight as he became the first American to sign for such an illustrious team.
However, a knee injury suffered in a match against Costa Rica and his inability to break into the line up at Milan has hampered the Maryland native's progress. A loan move to Dutch Eredivisie side FC Twente in January saw Onyewu only play in a handful of matches and the former champions passing up the chance to sign him permanently. Now back with the Serie A champions, the former US Soccer Male Athlete of the Year is in limbo.
With the recent additions of Philippe Mexes from AS Roma and Taye Taiwo from Marseille, and possibly a few more over the summer, the task of breaking into the Rossoneri first team has become more difficult. His chances of breaking into the first team all depend on the plans of Coach Massimiliano Allegri who seems to prefer the pairing of Brazil international Thiago Silva and the often injured Alessandro Nesta.
Onyewu's future could still be in Serie A, but not necessarily with the champions. Recently promoted Serie B teams Siena, Novara and Atalanta could be looking to sign new players to maintain their status in the top league. Even mid-table teams will be looking to bring in new blood in order to compete for the coveted Champions League places.
Wherever Onyewu decides to do this summer one thing is for certain. He needs regain his form and rebuild his confidence if he is going to regain his spot in the center of defense for the US.
Jozy Altidore (Villarreal CF)
When the former New York Red Bull signed with Spanish La Liga side Villarreal, many people thought the young striker would be a star on the rise in Europe. However, after three seasons in Europe, many are still waiting for the 21 year old to reach the potential he showed during his time with the New York franchise.
Loan moves to England with Hull City and Turkey with Bursaspor saw the New Jersey native play in a number of games, but only score one goal a piece for each team. Now back with Villarreal, and with the possible transfer of Italian international and fellow New Jerseyan Giuseppe Rossi to champions FC Barcelona, the question is whether Altidore still has a future with the Yellow Submarine.
Could the top brass at Castellon side send him out on loan once again or try to recoup any money from a highly expensive transfer? If the transfer of Rossi goes through this summer, certainly Villarreal will be looking for a big time replacement for their top goal scorer.
This could possibly leave Altidore on the outside looking in.
Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC)
The Texas native is in a much different situation compared to some of the other players on this list. After four years, and a few coaching changes, the Furman alum has become an important player in Fulham's continued presence in the English Premier League. Each season the former New England Revolution man has improved and showed why he is one of the first names to be put in the starting line up for the Cottagers.
After finishing eighth in the league this season, and topping it off by being named Fulham's Player of the Year, the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup Bronze Ball winner will be heading back to England once again facing a coaching change. With the resignation of Manchester United legend Mark Hughes and the hiring of Dutchman Martin Jol there could be a massive overhaul on personnel.
Reports from other sources have stated that the Dempsey would like to make a move to a club that has a chance at playing in the UEFA Champions League. If there was ever a time to move to another club, depending on who is interested, this would be the best time Dempsey and the club to cash in on a transfer.
Clubs such as Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain were once mentioned in the past as having interest in signing the former MLS Rookie of the Year winner. Whether they would comeback with a bid this summer is anyone's guess. There is also the possibility that Jol may want to keep Dempsey at Fulham as he sees him as a major part of his plans.
The future of Dempsey will be one of the most interesting to follow during the summer.
Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04)
After the fiasco with former Schalke coach Felix Magath, the German born midfielder was sent out on loan to English Premier League side Blackburn Rovers. The mid-season loan was a good one for Jones as he established himself in the first team of the 1995 English Premier League champions and helped in their survival from relegation this season.
With the coaching change at the Gelsenkirchen club, this could put the former Eintracht Frankfurt man back in contention for a spot in the Champions League semifinalist squad. However, several reports have revealed that Jones prefers a permanent move to the Lancashire club. The feeling seems mutual as Blackburn Coach Steve Kean is eager to keep Jones at Ewood Park.
So, Blackburn seems to be the early frontrunners for Jones' signature, but depending on how he performs at the Gold Cup and whether Schalke insist on keeping could determine his future this summer.
Freddy Adu (Benfica)
As I have posted in a previous article, Freddy Adu needs to leave Benfica. A few seasons ago he was greeted with fanfare by the Portuguese giants. Now, the former prodigy is deemed as redundant and has been shipped out on loan to various teams with his most recent stop being in Turkey with second division side Rizespor. With a successful loan spell in Turkey, could this be the key to the Ghana-born midfielder finally leaving Lisbon permanently?
While Rizespor was a good experience for the former DC United signee, the team was unable to progress to the top division. If Adu wants to play any part in the US national team's World Cup qualification matches, he is going to have to find a team playing in the first division or at least a league with a strong second division.
Which team in Europe is going to be willing to sign on a player who many had deemed in the past to have the potential to be a superstar?
It's time that Freddy realize that his future does not belong at Benfica and he should leave all of his options open, which includes a return to Major League Soccer.
Brad Guzan (Aston Villa)
The departure of Brad Friedel to Tottenham Hotspur would seem like a huge opportunity for the US number two to finally take over the reigns between the sticks at the Birmingham club. However, Guzan could be handing in a transfer request this summer to American owner Randy Lerner due to current events happening at the Midlands club.
With the highly controversial hiring of former Birmingham City coach Alex McLeish, who just led the Blues to relegation from the EPL this past season, the former Chivas USA netminder could remain as number two with the Villans. Rumors are circulating that the Scotsman will try to sign England international Ben Foster from his former club. If the transfer goes through, it will be just another roadblock in the career of the Illinois native.
The former South Carolina Gamecock knows that if he is ever going to have a chance to knock US national teammate Tim Howard out as number one he will have to play regularly. A loan spell to Championship side Hull City did, temporarily, put him into games, but he needs to be at a club that is going to play him regularly and not just for cup games and every odd game against weaker teams.
Guzan still has a bright future in England, but it may not be with Aston Villa.
Jonathan Spector (no club)
The former Manchester United trainee, like a handful of other players this week, received his pink slip from recently relegated West Ham United. During his time with the Irons, Spector was one of the most versatile players for the team playing across the backline and in midfield. However, with the team now preparing for life in the Championship, finances have to be adjusted.
The release from West Ham does work in the favor of the Illinois native compared to the others on this list. Being a free agent allows Spector to choose which team best fits him well and his ambitions. Teams will also like this because they don't have to spend money on player who contracted to another team.
Should the former Charlton Athletic loanee choose to remain in England, newly promoted sides Norwich City, Queen's Park Rangers and Swansea City maybe interested in signing him as they will focus on holding onto their EPL status.
Germany could also be an option as Spector holds a German passport. In the past German Bundesliga team FC Cologne showed interest in signing the Bradenton Academy alum.
This summer's transfer period is a very intriguing one for US soccer. With teams such as Costa Rica, Honduras and others getting stronger, qualification for the World Cup could be more challenging than ever. That is why it is vital for some of America's top players to find teams in which they are going to challenging for a position in the starting eleven and not spending all of their time on the bench or in the stands on game days.
At the conclusion of the Gold Cup final on June 25, in Pasadena, California it will be interesting to find out the destinations of some of the US national team players. Should they make the right move and play well at their new clubs could prove to be beneficial during qualification. Should they make the wrong move and find themselves down the pecking order could prove to be detrimental.
This summer will certainly be an interesting one.