MICHAEL ADUBATO - Wednesday, October 7, 2020
The summer transfer window has now closed and it was a big one for Americans as there were some historic moves made to some world-renowned teams.
With the transfer window now closed shut, another "crazy season" has come to an end. With the COVID-19 virus affecting everyone and everything, including soccer, this season has been even crazier and has gone on much later in the year. Usually, the end of August would be the end of the transfer window. However, a later window meant more potential drama.
One has to admit that there were some interesting moves for American players this time around with a couple of our boys going to what can be considered as a couple of powerhouses in European soccer. So let's have a look back at the past couple of months of movements and start with probably the best-known team in the world, Barcelona.
It had been on the cards for a while that Sergino Dest, although only 19 years old, would be leaving Ajax sooner rather than later. He was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and Surinamese-American father in Almere and played for the youth team there before being scooped up by the Amsterdam team. He played a year for Jong Ajax and was promoted to the first team the following year where he caught the eye of other European teams and also the Dutch national team. He thankfully chose to play for the USA over the Dutch team and left Ajax after just one first-team season.
Dest was destined for the German champions, Bayern Munich but a last-minute deal by Barcelona's Dutch coach, Ronald Koeman changed that, and now the thrice capped American is at the Camp Nou in sunny Spain.
The defender got his La Liga career underway over the weekend when he came on for Jordi Alba in the 75th minute. The game however ended 1-1 against Sevilla. Once he is familiar with the team and the Barca way, all American fans hope to see him in the starting line-up for years to come.
Another big move with American interest was that of Weston McKennie arriving in Turin, Italy and pulling on the famed black and white Juventus shirt. This is not a permanent move however and he can well return to Schalke next season but it will be fun watching the Texan show his stuff in Serie A for the reigning Italian champions alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.
The national team player has already made his debut, playing the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 win against Sampdoria and then starting against Roma and putting in a 58-minute shift. He has looked comfortable in the Bianconeri midfield and whether he stays for a season or eventually makes a permanent move, it will only make McKennie a better player for the USA.
Antonee Robinson is another foreign-born member of the USMNT. The left-back was born in England and made his way to Liverpool to play in the Everton FC youth organization before being sent out on loan to Bolton Wanderers and then Wigan Athletic before signing with the Championship team last summer. Six months later he was down in Italy having a medical for his planned move to AC Milan but the move fell through at the last minute.
Since Wigan was relegated from the Championship, Robinson and the team were happy when newly-promoted Fulham snapped him up to add to their Premier League squad, where he joins fellow American Tim Ream. The newcomer made his Fulham debut in the League Cup game against Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-0 victory. He also took part in the next cup game, losing to Championship side Brentford and then his league debut against Wolverhampton where he went the 90 minutes in a close contest where the Wolves came away with a 1-0 victory.
It's not going to be an easy season for Robinson or Fulham as the Cottagers are one of the favorite teams to be relegated. They are proving the oddsmakers right so far, securing none of the 12 points that were on offer.
Another new signing in England was Sebastian Soto. Norwich City, a Championship team, acquired him from Hannover 96 and gave him a three-year deal but immediately sent the 20-year-old striker out on loan to SC Telstar in the Dutch second division, mainly because of work permit issues.
The California native is slowly acclimatizing to his team and league. He scored twice late last month against Den Bosch and has been in the starting line-up on two occasions already, so the youngster, who has been touted as one of the better American prospects is off and running. A recent report, however, claims that he may be running down south to play for Chile, thereby snubbing the USA. This has not been confirmed and Yanks Abroad will keep you posted on his future.
Another possible American international is Kik Pierie, who was born in Boston while his father attended Harvard medical school but the young man has represented the Netherlands at youth level on many occasions. Ajax bought the young prospect from Heerenveen a couple of years ago and have just loaned him out to Twente.
The 6'1" defender is one worth watching and who knows, he could follow in the footsteps of another Dutch-American who played for Ajax and snubbed the national team for the Red, White & Blue.
Another loanee to the Netherlands is once-capped Ulysses Llanez, who left his parent club Wolfsburg for the season to join the former team of American national team stalwart Michael Bradley, SC Heerenveen. The teenage frontman got onto the field this past February against Costa Rica to start his national team career.
Llanez made his Dutch debut over the weekend, coming on in the 67th minute against Utrecht and he looked quite comfortable and confident. He should be racking up a lot of playing minutes and hopefully a handful of goals before returning to Germany.
Although there have been players heading to the Netherlands, there is also one who has left.
Haji Wright spent a season with VVV Venlo and played 22 games but the frontman could not find the back of the net and thus his contract was not renewed. So the former New York Cosmo headed north and has found his happy place with SonderjyskE in Denmark. In four games, the LA native has scored three for the top-flight team.
Wright has represented the USA at youth levels but is still waiting for his first senior cap. If he keeps up his current goals to games ratio, there is no way that he could be ignored by USSF.
One move has taken an American player almost out of Europe. Eric Lichaj, who has 16 caps for the national team, left England and signed on with Fatih Karagumruk. Of the Turkish Super Lig. The team based in Istanbul, a city that sits both in Europe and Asia plays at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium on the European side. The 31-year-old defender's Hull City contract ran out in the summer and the newly promoted team came calling.
Kara Kırmızı, as the team is known by their fans, have started off the season quite well. After four games, all of which the Illinois native has taken part, they find themselves in third place. In two of them, Lichaj and his backline have kept clean sheets.
There has been only one move from an MLS team to further afield and that was when Reggie Cannon said goodbye to Texas and signed on the dotted line for Boavista in Portugal. Playing right-back, the Chicago native signed for FC Dallas out of college and spent three years with them.
The new season hasn't been kind to the Porto-based team after three games they have collected just one point but on a positive side, the American has jumped right into the starting lineup from the get-go and will find defending a bit tougher than he did in MLS. This will only make him a better player.
Eduvie Ikoba was playing his soccer in Hungary last season for Zalaegerszegi TE in the National Championship, the nation's top-flight before deciding to cross the border into Slovakia to take up AS Trencin's three-year deal. He got off to a flying start, bagging two goals in a game although the team has gotten off to a slow start and also had a game postponed due to players testing positive for COVID.
The Dartmouth alumni is a towering presence on the Trencin front line at 6'4" and once he settles into the team should see his goal tally go up and up.
Belgium has welcomed a pair of Americans this summer to the Pro League. The first to arrive was Joe Efford. The native of Georgia, who passed up a chance to play for the University of North Carolina, spent three seasons with Ergotelis in Greece. His time there went well, scoring 29 goals in 70 games. When his contract wasn't renewed he headed north to Belgium where he now plays for Waasland-Beveren.
The Flemish team is struggling at the moment, sitting one place from the bottom of the league standings but Efford has contributed a pair of goals after seven games in this very competitive, very under-rated.
Chelsea owned defender Matt Miagza continues his exile from Stamford Bridge as he now finds himself in the Belgian capital where he'll spend a season with RSC Anderlecht. The defender signed on with the London club in 2016 and has been out on loan ever since with Vitesse, Nantes, and Reading.
The 25-year-old Jersey boy is in a good place now where he will definitely learn more about the art of defending from Les Mauves head coach, Vincent Kompany, who was one of the English Premier League's best defenders. He already has played 18 times for the national team and the towering defender has the potential to become one of the best.
Eric McWoods was playing alongside Ikoba in Hungary but he too decided to move on and now plays his soccer on the beautiful Mediterranean island nation of Malta. His team is Balzan FC in the Maltese Premier League. The forward from St Louis has gotten off to a slow start, having just come back from injury before the season kicked off. After two games where he went the distance, he has yet to ripple the back of the net but goals will come, judging from his scoring record.
Our last two American summer signings are not only playing in the Republic of Ireland but the two of them have joined the same team, the defending champions Dundalk.
Josh Gatt signed on this summer as a free agent after leaving his club in Austria, Rheindorf Altach. He has had a career of highs and lows where has undergone the knife on a few occasions but has also collected a couple of caps for the USA as well as championship and cup medals in Norway while playing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Having from Michigan, the 28-year-old Gatt is determined to get his career back on track, and hopefully on the Emerald Isle is where that will happen.
Last but not least is Taner Dogan. The Ivy Leaguer graduated from Harvard before signing his first professional contract with the champions. He was then sent out on loan to Athlone Town to gain experience in his freshman season. He has performed well for Town and is their only defender to score for them; three times so far to be exact.
The Irish season is similar to that of MLS so there aren't many games left. The good news is that Dundalk has qualified for the Europa League group stages, so it would be great to see one or two Americans talking on Arsenal, Molde, and Rapid Vienna.
So these are our 15 American guys who have moved on to new and hopefully better teams where they will continue to ply their trade or learn their trade in the professional ranks as they look to earn national team call ups or to continue to get those call ups.