BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, September 5, 2012
This past European summer transfer window was perhaps the best and most eventful transfer window ever for American players.
In total, nine players with US international caps found new European clubs and almost all of the deals were encouraging.
With that said, here is my report card on the deals made this summer.
Geoff Cameron to Stoke
Geoff Cameron's move to Stoke so far has been a success and the fact that he has walked into their Premier League team's starting lineup speaks well of MLS. If he can play well for Stoke City his standing will increase with the US national team under Jurgen Klinsmann. Regardless of whether or not he plays defensive midfield or central defense for Stoke, Klinsmann will want to get him on the field.
At 27, however, he may have waited too long to make the move. He's at an age where players typically make their biggest move of their career. If he stays at Stoke and plays well for two years, at 29 it will be tough to make a big jump.
Clint Dempsey to Tottenham
Of all the transfers by American players this past window, Dempsey's move to Tottenham was by far the most dramatic. It was a good move in that it offers far more opportunity these days than Liverpool, who were also showing interest in the Texan.
It's not the Champions League move that many were hoping for but Tottenham will give him that opportunity in the near future. They are a team where he will have a fair chance to earn minutes and contribute. It's too bad that, at 29, this will likely be the biggest move Dempsey ever makes but it's still a good one.
There is one minor drawback, however. The first is that this move should not have happened until the last day in the window. It should have happened weeks earlier. Dempsey now has no preseason and he will have to adjust quickly.
Terrence Boyd to Rapid Vienna
After tearing up the Regionaliga last season, Boyd finally made a move where he can play consistent first team minutes. He is a very promising young forward but is still raw. His potential is there and it remains to be seen if Rapid Vienna is the place for him to realize this potential. The quality of the Austrian league can be very uneven.
Boyd's fast start to the beginning of the Austrian season either means that he is improving really quickly or that he sold himself short in terms of finding a team where he would be challenged. It's still too early to make that conclusion.
Either way, he will be playing regularly and for now this move is worth the benefit of the doubt.
Carlos Bocanegra to Racing Santander on loan
The US national team captain had to get out of Rangers. That is stating the obvious. The fact that it took so long is unfortunate since he is without a preseason heading into the Segunda season. Playing in the fourth tier of Scottish soccer is now way for a serious international player to prepare for a season in Spain.
Also, Bocanegra will now move moving from a club that collapsed because of financial crisis to another club on a season-long loan that is in the process of falling apart for similar reasons. Alejandro Bedoya has said that the turmoil of Rangers' situation took its toll on the team. Will the same happen at Racing? Their prospects do not look great this season both on and off the field.
Bocanegra is a leader and a true professional who won't let the off field distractions affect him. It's just too bad that he won't be at a club where the sole focus will be on soccer. He deserves to be playing in a top division and for a club that is not falling apart.
Oguchi Onyewu to Malaga on loan
Of all the American transfers to take place this off season, Oguchi Onyewu's season-long loan to Malaga is the most uncertain. Onyewu played well for most of last season but the injury he suffered late in the season changed everything. When he suited up for the US national team in May-June, he struggled.
That being said, for most of the past three years Onyewu has been fighting injuries and slumps. He does, however, seem to respond well. Malaga will clearly be a high risk/high reward move for Onyewu.
If it turns out to be move similar to his 2009 move AC Milan, his career will be irreparably harmed at this stage. On the other hand, if he breaks into the starting lineup and succeeds in La Liga and the Champions League, he will once again be one of the elite American defenders.
Maurice Edu to Stoke
Like fellow Americans Alejandro Bedoya and Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu was forced to move out of Rangers after their financial collapse. The truth is that Edu should have left Rangers awhile ago after winning Scottish Premier League titles and playing in the Champions League.
The last few years there was nothing left for him prove in a league that was declining. The move to Stoke is a nice move and it should have happened sooner. But it is better late than never.
It's unclear where Edu will be playing at Stoke as Klinsmann seems to like the idea of playing him in central defense for the national team. With Geoff Cameron playing well in central defensive midfield for Stoke, will Edu be competing with Cameron or will one shift to central defense?
Edu has at times played very well for the US team but there have been times where he has struggled in possession and passing. In the EPL, he will be tested on a weekly basis and it will likely make him a better player.
Michael Bradley to Roma
This is the best move made by an American this transfer window. Given his age, Bradley has steadily moved his career forward without languishing at any club for a prolonged period of time. With the exception of a brief and ill-fated loan to Aston Villa, he has settled quickly at ever club and moved on as soon as he was ready for a new challenge.
After a one year stint at Chievo Verona, Bradley is moving to one of the more prestigious Serie A clubs. All indications point to the fact that Roma are very eager to get Bradley involved in their team quickly. His recent injury is a setback but given his strong work ethic, it's likely that he will return stronger than ever.
Alejandro Bedoya to Helsingborg
Alejandro Bedoya's brief stint at Rangers did not work out the way he had hoped. He struggled with injuries and playing time while being involved with a team that was mired in off-field drama.
The move to Helsingborg is only scheduled to run through the end of December but for a short term deal, Helsingborg offers a lot of opportunities. They will be paying in the Europa League and as the defending Allsvenskan champions, the team will be competitive. Sweden is also familiar to Bedoya who began his professional career there.
Bedoya has a ways to go to get back to the national team but Helsingborg will allow him to return to his roots and reboot his career while he gets set to make another move soon.
Mix Diskerud to Rosenborg
Mix Diskerud's move is eerily identical to Bedoya's in many respects. He is coming off a brief tenure at Gent in Belgium that did not work out. Now he is returning to Norway through the end of 2012 to join one of the biggest clubs in the country.
Early returns are promising. He is playing regularly and playing well. This move should set him up nicely for another move in January to stronger league. Then he can restart his national team prospects again.
Joe Gyau to St. Pauli on loan
As one of the top prospects in American soccer, Gyau will now get a chance at first team minutes when he goes out on a season-long loan to St. Pauli of the 2.Bundesliga.
St. Pauli seems eager to use Gyau who should give them speed and playmaking on the wings. What is good about the deal is that St. Pauli holds an option to extend the loan for a second season. That will allow Gyau to take his time to settle in and the club can find a true role for the youngster over time.
Andrew Wooten to Sandhausen on loan
This is an odd loan that will run for the rest of this season. It makes little sense since Wooten just signed a three year contract with Kaiserslautern in June. Now he is moving to a club that plays in the same league, the 2.Bundesliga, as the club that owns his contract.
Wooten has been a solid goal scorer in the Regionaliga for years with Kaiserslautern's U23 team and he looked promising towards the end of last season when he began to earn Bundesliga minutes. The important thing to note is that Kaiserslautern did not give Sandhausen an option to buy.
The likely explanation for this deal is that Kaiserslautern still have hope for Wooten but they need to gradually sell off their current strikers. The loan is good in that Wooten will now get a chance at another club than Kaiserslautern whose management has been dysfunctional but it is a concern that Kaiserslautern was not confident to give Wooten significant minutes this year after struggling offensively last year.
There were a few other deals among some American youth internationals that are tough to grade at the moment because they are still youth players but they are important to mention.
Cody Cropper to Southampton
Cody Cropper has the tools to be a very good goalkeeper and after a rough injury last season at Ipswich, this move to Southampton will give him a fresh start. What's interesting is that he will likely start for Southampton's U21 team but he is not far away in terms of age and experience to the club's number 2 keeper.
Cropper is the starting keeper for the US U-20 team and the fact that he will get many games in the new EPL U21 league means that he will be challenged on a regular basis.
Jerome Kiesewetter to Stuttgart
US U-20 forward Jerome Kiesewetter signed his first professional deal over the summer when he agreed on an impressive four year contract with Stuttgart of the German Bundesliga. He is still only 19 and will likely earn minutes with Stuttgart's U23 team which plays at a high level in the 3.Liga.
Kiesewetter is a big and strong player and a four year contract is a sign test of commitment from Stuttgart.
Villyan Bijev to IK Start on loan
Villyan is in a tough situation after signing with Liverpool since his Bulgarian passport won't qualify him for a UK work permit. As a result Liverpool must continue to loan him out to a country where his Bulgarian or American passports will carry weight.
IK Start is currently in a promotional battle so they may be reluctant to give meaningful minutes to an untested player. Still, Bijev is someone who is valued at Liverpool's system so he will likely be able to contribute to Start.