American soccer always faces a bit of a dilemma. While we want to have an exciting league (MLS) with the best American soccer players, there is also a desire to perform at the international level with the American Men’s National team. And for players to get experience playing against the best, having Americans playing in the best European leagues like the English Premier League or Germany’s Bundesliga can greatly improve our top players. Look at the career of Clint Dempsey for an example. Here are 5 current MLS players that could be on the move as soon as this summer, as the European soccer leagues wind down and enter the transfer period.
1. Omar Gonzalez – Everything was set for a 2012 move abroad when the central defender and Los Angeles Galaxy star was loaned to FC Nuremburg in January of 2012. But a torn ACL delayed those plans. The 24 year old has since recovered and has played very well at the heart of the Galaxy defense, helping them along to an MLS Cup victory last year. He has also started several games for the American National team and impressed during a 0-0 draw in Mexico this year. A move to a European club is vital if Gonzalez will develop to be the key man at the heart of America’s defense. The sooner he heads across the ocean the better!
2. Matt Besler – Perhaps the partner of Gonzalez at the heart of the American defense, Besler has been a force for Sporting Kansas City, who have been a strong defensive team in the MLS, largely because of Besler. Besler has also earned several national team call-ups. Already 26, if Besler ever wants to move to a European club, now is the time. In a few years his potential will have been maximized, so he should take advantage of this opportunity to prove himself abroad. Further starts for America could result if he plays well in Europe.
3. Graham Zusi – Also a playmaker at Sporting Kansas City, Zusi is one of those midfield players that make an impact in a variety of ways. He has great command of striking the ball, which results in solid crosses and great free kicks. His great play has earned him several national team appearances and a trial at West Ham. Zusi trained with the British team for a week in January and said it was a positive experience. I feel he would be a great player for a mid-table Premier League club like West Ham and would greatly improve from the intensity level that English soccer provides. Also 26, this is the best time for him to make the switch.
4. Will Bruin – Just 23, Bruin has already burst onto the MLS scene. With 16 goals last season and 4 already this year for the Houston Dynamo, Bruin has the potential to be a top American striker. With competition from players like Jozy Altidore and Hercules Gomez, perhaps he should think about moving abroad soon too. With a large frame, he would be ideal for the physical English Premier League, though with so little experience playing professionally, perhaps another year at the MLS would be smart.
5. Sean Johnson – American goalkeepers have had immense success at international clubs, and 23-year-old Sean Johnson could be the next one to move. His Chicago Fire are having a woeful campaign, and Johnson has already been evaluated by English clubs like Everton and Manchester United. Johnson has made several international appearances but could benefit by playing at a major league. However, he must be smart with his decision as moving to a major club just to develop and sit on the bench is not ideal. In Chicago, Johnson is the clear starter and wherever he moves to should also start to push his development. He could well be the next American number 1 keeper.