U.S. soccer will be dominated this summer by the women’s bid to win a third consecutive Olympic Gold Medal in August, and to get paid accordingly, while the men try to erase the memory of a dismal run that saw the side fail miserably at the Gold Cup, the subsequent CONCACAF Cup and in two attempts at qualifying for the Rio Olympics.
The June schedule should be a boon to U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann who will populate his 23 man roster with MLS and Liga MX players in mid-season form, complemented by players fresh from just completed European competitions.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard will join the U.S. MNT more or less directly after wrapping up his fine Everton career, even before he makes his Colorado Rapids debut. But if Howard has secured his future, his co-number one Brad Guzan leads a group of U.S. nats that face important summer time decisions, decisions that will impact both the players involved and the path of the U.S. MNT.
Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, and Bobby Wood will be “in the shop window” at the Copa America Centenario this June, while Matt Miazga also has a chance to make the roster that faces Colombia, Costa Rica, and Paraguay in Group A play beginning on June 3rd with Colombia, in Santa Clara, California.
Less likely to make the Copa panel, but perhaps as important to the near and long term future of the U.S. MNT is another promising young player whose next career move will be closely monitored by Klinsmann, former U.S. U20 captain Emerson Hyndman.
First, let’s take a look at the first group.
Brad Guzan – The 31-year-old goalkeeper has endured a rough couple of seasons with the recently relegated Villians, losing his job earlier this season, before earning it back. Then again, not much has been easy for the Illinois native since his 2008 move from the since folded Chivas USA to the Birmingham club.
First, Guzan had to sit behind U.S. legend Brad Friedel and then Republic of Ireland number one Shay Given and was even released by Aston Villa following the 2011-12 season. But Guzan signed a new deal with Villa and pushed Given aside to establish himself as a solid Premier League keeper.
Now, with Aston Villa headed down a level to the Championship budget cuts will be made and Guzan and Villa will have decisions to make.
Where might Guzan land if he does elect to move, and is a return to MLS a possibility? When new Fire coach Veljko Pauonivic dropped a long time starter Sean Johnson for Matt Lampson at the start of the season, a return home to Chicago seemed a possibility for Guzan. But following a 4-3 opening day loss to NYCFC Lampson and his defense have been stingy, pitching three shutouts while allowing just three goals in five matches.
Guzan could stay with Villa and count on a quick return to the Premier League or he could make a move to another club in the English top flight. His willingness to fight for his position could see Guzan take a potential backup job in the Premier League and bet on himself to unseat the presumed starter.
Or perhaps Guzan will once again follow in the footsteps of Friedel (Turkey) and Kasey Keller (Spain, Germany) and try his luck on the European continent? The market might not be red hot for a just relegated goalkeeper, but at 31 Guzan should just be entering his prime marking this as a very important summer for Jurgen Klinsmann’s co-number one.
DeAndre Yedlin – Yedlin parlayed a breakthrough at the 2014 World Cup into a contract with Tottenham Hotspurs, who eventually shipped the speedster off to Sunderland for some needed EPL seasoning.
Following a challenging but ultimately successful campaign for Yedlin with Sunderland, who are still in a relegation dogfight, it is clear that the former Seattle Sounder has both the skill and the fortitude to make it in the Premier League.
The question is will that be with Spurs and if so, then when. Yedlin showed himself able for the defensive rigors of fullback play with Sunderland but Spurs are loaded at the position. Kyle Walker could block Yedlin for years but the talented Englishman could be moved for the right price if Mauricio Pochettino deems Yedlin ready to fight Kieran Trippier for Walker’s spot.
If Sunderland survives this relegation battle the loan could be made permanent, if not Tottenham could loan Yedlin to another Premier League side in need of a speedy fullback. I don’t see Yedlin accepting a loan to a Championship side but if Tottenham elect to stand pat with its current fullback core Yedlin could be on the transfer block.
Another Premier League club could come in, but Roma was hot for the Yedlin’s signature before Spurs won out, might I Giallorossi come back in for the 22-year-old?
Bobby Wood – After years spent trying to establish himself in Germany, Wood has positioned himself nicely for a move from the Bundesliga 2 to the top tier of the German game with a 17 goal season for FC Berlin, so far.
Wood has already passed Conor Casey with the most goals by an American in the Bundesliga 2, and with four league games remaining the 23-year-old Hawaiian is just two goals behind the league’s co- leaders.
Next up for Wood is a potential career-making move. Hamburg is one Bundesliga side said to be interested in Wood and there should be more. Wood could potentially make a move away from Germany but the smarter move would seem to be to a Bundesliga side looking for goals.
Matt Miazga – The 20-year-old caused quite a stir in U.S. soccer circles when he completed a move to perennial Premier League powers Chelsea in January. Some said it was a step too far, too soon for the lanky center back and early returns don’t entirely refute that theory.
Miazga has had two starts for the Blues, one good, one bad. That second start, against Swansea, was a bit of a disaster, with New Jersey’s finest pulled at the intermission. But growing pains are a part of the process for any young player. The question for Miazga is what’s next, and where will that growth take place.
Antonio Conte will take over from Guus Hiddink prior to next season and there is no way of knowing what the experienced tactician makes of Miazga at this point. Conte is known for playing three center backs, will that benefit Miazga? Or will the current Italy national team manager bring the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci over to London to solidify the Chelsea defense.
Chelsea also has an army of loan players stashed all across Europe, players like Andreas Christensen, who just turned 20 and is just wrapping up a season on loan with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach that has reportedly piqued the interest of no less than German superpower Bayern Munich.
A loan could be a good thing as long as Miazga sees plenty of pitch at his temporary home and he may get another chance or two to impress at Chelsea before the 2015/16 season closes. Either way, Miazga remains a talented young player with a bright future.
Emerson Hyndman – The 20-year-old midfielder has been with Fulham since signing a youth deal at 15-year-old in 2011 but his time at Craven Cottage appears to be just about up with top clubs like Manchester United rumored to be set to swoop.
Those rumors may well be a bit fantastic but the skillful midfielder looks set to move on after scoring his first professional goal, a stoppage time winner to give Fulham a key victory in its relegation battle.
That the goal came on Hyndman’s 20th birthday was icing on the cake for the distributor, who found himself banished to the bench for much of the season after making clear his intention to test the market.
Following Hyndman’s breakthrough Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic second guessed the club’s strategy. “He’s probably one of the more talented players. I am little bit disappointed with myself that I haven’t found more minutes for him this season.”
Jokanovic likely won’t get the chance to make up for that oversight next season, and now it is up to Hyndman and his advisors to find the right landing spot for the 20-year-old to continue his career. If they do Hyndman could soon add to his tally of one full international cap.