US Players that increased their stock

As the World Cup is slowly coming to an end, the summer transfer season is about to pick up. In past World Cups for the US, MLS based players gained significant attention and used the tournament to initiate moves to Europe. In 2002, Brian McBride and Damarcus Beasley and in 2006 Clint Dempsey drew Fulham’s eye. This time around it is a bit different situation.

With just three unknown MLS players (Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle, and Jonathan Bornstein) on the US squad and none of whom particularly impressed, it seems unlikely that these players did enough to attract European attention. Yet this does not mean that this summer’s transfer season will be uneventful. While 19 of the 23 US players on the squad play in Europe, only one – Oguchi Onyewu with AC Milan – plays for a big champions league club (although one could say Maurice Edu and Beasley with Glasgow Rangers qualify, since Rangers is in the Champions League). It is a sign of significant progress to have 19 players on the squad playing abroad, especially since just 12 played abroad in 06 and 02. However, the next step and what should be an objective for US soccer for 2014 is to get more players playing on big clubs against even better competition.

After this World Cup some US players significantly increased their stock, and may be able to make upward moves.

1. Michael Bradley – He, by a long shot, did the most to increase his stock. He impressed throughout the tournament and demonstrated that he is a solid two-way player, that can provide some steel and some goals. At 22, he has still got much to learn and has some areas to improve, but his potential for improvement only adds to his value. He would be great in England, but also seems like a perfect holding player in Serie A.

2. Benny Feilhaber – There is a reason why the US played the best in the second halves of games – that’s when Feilhaber was in. He really should have started after the England game. His presence on the ball and his passing vision added that play-making ability that the US has historically lacked in the middle of the park. Feilhaber plays in Denmark and had played in Germany and briefly and unsuccessfully in the Premier League with dreadful Derby County – with Derby, a team that was intent on winning 0-0, Feilhaber was a luxury they couldn’t afford. There had been rumors of a La Liga move in the past year. I expect those to heat up.

3. Landon Donovan – Donovan was the most celebrated and well known US player going into the tournament and he not only further confirmed his quality, but added significant marketing appeal. Donovan also added something just as important to interested teams – star power in the American market. With his goal against Slovenia and Algeria he became an even bigger national star and took the American media by storm upon returning home and during his home return with the LA Galaxy he received the Beckham treatment. Signing Donovan is now a perfect way for a team to grow their brand in the American market. Rumors of Man City, Chelsea, and Everton have already been flying around. If he hadn’t been at Everton, Liverpool would have been perfect, other possible locations Tottenham, Arsenal. Also don’t forget about Spain or Italy.

4. Clint Dempsey – Dempsey was class throughout. Against Ghana he was the best US player and perhaps the best player on the pitch. He also did it all. He played as a target striker, as a winger, as a play making central midfielder. His versatility is part of his value, as he would instantly add depth to a squad in a number of areas on the field. The Ghana game was evidence that Dempsey has developed into a player capable of playing for any team in the world. Fulham is not a bad place to be, but with Hodgson’s departure, it seems as Dempsey will move as well. Since he can’t follow Hodgson to Liverpool, a move abroad to Italy may be in the cards, with rumors of AC Milan swirling.

5. Maurice Edu – Edu is unlikely to leave Rangers this summer. But he impressed throughout the tournament and if he can stay healthy and put together a full quality season at Rangers I would expect some bigger clubs in better leagues to come calling. An athletic, tenacious holding midfielder that is calm on the ball and can pass as well is quite a precious commodity in club football. And cash-strapped Rangers will likely not be shy to cash in if the price is right.

6. Jozy Altidore – Yes he didn’t score. But what other 20 year old striker played 90 minutes in every game for his team in this World Cup? Jozy had a very strong tournament. He was a physical force both with pace and power and showed good skill on the ball. Jozy is owned by a big club in Villarreal and I would expect them to give him a shot at making the team and I think that’s where he will be next year. While he could be loaned out again this season by Villarreal, I would expect the quality of the teams to come calling will be higher than Hull City.

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