NEW YEAR BITS AND BOBS
Johnson will test the Greek waters
DAVID SMITH - Friday, January 1, 2010
The last week of 2009 saw a flurry of pre-transfer window activity for several Yanks, highlighted by Fulham's Eddie Johnson and former Aarhus winger Jeremiah White both hopping planes southward for the winter and spring.

Johnson joins the God of War

Having seen limited first-team action for Fulham throughout the fall months despite showing promise in reserve competition, the London club confirmed on Thursday that Eddie Johnson will join Greek Super League club Aris Thessaloniki F.C. on a six-month loan. No details were initially given about the terms of the loan or whether any option for purchase is given.

The Thessaloniki-based club, named after Greek god of war Ares, count themselves as one of the most supported clubs in the country and were frequent entrants in the UEFA Cup over the last decade.

Their sixth-place finish in the 2008-09 domestic season kept them out of this season's edition of the Europa League. They are, however, looking to strengthen their ailing attack which averages only one goal per game, as they seek to push into the top five spots of the league, which would put them in the post-season playoff a shot to compete in next season's Champions or Europa League.

The team is completing their short winter break, with Johnson's first possible chance to take the field with his new team on January 6th against tenth-place Atromitos Halkidona.

White to Qatar?

Shortly after leaving Danish club Aarhus to seek more consistent playing time, Jeremiah White appears to be headed to the Arabia Peninsula to Quatari League club Al Sailiya on a six-month contract with an option to extend.

White has been thought to be a target of Major League Soccer expansion club Philadelphia Union and recently expressed to YA his "hope to play for them sooner or later," however a move to Al Sailiya will offer the chance to immediately see playing time.

Following the first 11-game phase of the season, the team is tenth place in the 12-team Qatar Stars League. White's speed and crossing ability from the wing will surely be a boost to a team which has one of the league's better defenses but has struggled for goals with an anemic nine through 13 games.

The reported six-month contract would potentially leave the former Wake Forest player free to make his desired move to Philadelphia for the second half of the MLS season, or back to Europe for the start of the 2010-11 campaign.

Jeffery switches to Mainz

USA U-20 player Jared Jeffrey has completed a move to German Bundesliga club FSV Mainz 05 from Belgian current second-place team Club Brugge on a long-term contract through 2012 with an option to extend.

He has already begun training with the current ninth-place team and will participate in the first team's January training camp in the Andalusian region of Spain. Team coaches have indicated that he is expected to primarily see action with the Mainz U-23 team, which competes in the fourth-tiered Regionalliga West, but could make the jump to the first team as deemed by his performances.

While we here at YA don't include the Regionalliga in our weekly coverage of German competition, it goes without saying that we will keep a close eye on matters to see how this promising young midfielder progresses with Mainz's U-23 team and to eventual Bundesliga appearances.

Mainz resumes league play after the winter break on January 16 at league leaders Leverkusen, however Jeffrey's first competitive action will more likely take place several weeks later on February 13 when the second team faces Borussia Mönchengladbach's U-23 team.

Lichaj back to Villa?

Reports out of England have suggested that Aston Villa reserve defender Eric Lichaj has ended his loan at League Two club Lincoln City FC. His time at the club can be considered a success as, after an early red-card suspension, he has held down a spot in the team's starting lineup gaining valuable competitive play time which was previously lacking for him at Villa.

The outstanding question remains as to whether the Illinois native will stay at the Premier League top-four challengers or depart on another loan move for the spring, as has been suggested.

Lichaj unsurprisingly showed he can hold his own on the League Two level even displaying some willingness to join in the attack, but could stand to be tested at a higher league making Villa's rumored desire to send him to a Championship club an attractive option.