The English Premier League is back reminding us once again that that the one predictable thing about it remains it’s unpredictability. Swansea is scoring goals for laughs, Manchester United, van Persie and all, fell to Everton in their opener, before surviving a fright against Fulham, while Aston Villa prop up the table with newcomers Southampton.
And don’t forget there are still a couple of days left in the transfer window. For American fans of the beautiful game, the transfer window means just one thing: “where will Dempsey go?” All summer long the Texas gunslinger looked destined for pastures greener than Craven Cottage, and we waited patiently for news of a glamorous new destination for our beloved Clint. Roma was mooted, Arsenal were all but a sure thing, or so we were told early on. Then it was Liverpool, then it wasn’t. When Fulham boss Martin Jol brought charges against his Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers for turning Dempsey’s head, it began to read like Victorian novel.
While Liverpool remain in the hunt Martin O’Neill has thrown his hat into the ring as he attempts to bring Deuce and his array of attacking skills to Sunderland. While Liverpool are in transition, Sunderland is hardly the big time move Dempsey and his admirers were hoping for.
But Dempsey is not the only expat U.S. soccer fans are keeping an eye on. Geoff Cameron impressed against Mexico at the Azteca and soon after made his debut for Stoke in a draw versus Arsenal. Cameron lined out as a defensive mid for Tony Pulis, how will that play into Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans for the former Dynamo to claim one of the central defense spots for the U.S. national team?
The middle of the American defense figures to be impacted in the remaining days of the transfer window. Cameron’s new Stoke teammate Maurice Edu escaped from the lower reaches of Scottish soccer, leaving former giants Rangers to join the Potters. Klinsmann’s center back pairing from that famous Mexico victory now find themselves competing for playing time at two positions at Stoke. And what about captain Carlos Bocanegra? Can the American defensive leader maintain his international standing without a move away from Glasgow? It seems very unlikely.
Yet another central defense option for Klinsmann, Tim Ream, is also plying his trade in England, albeit in the Championship, one level below the Premiership. Ream doesn’t appear to be very high on the U.S. depth chart at the moment, but if he can put together a solid season at Bolton he may again catch Klinsmann’s eye.
Ream’s team mate Stuart Holden has seen his status grow the longer he sits out while recovering from injury. Another former Houston Dynamo, the versatile midfielder’s rise was derailed by injury, he hopes to be back for Bolton, and hopefully the U.S. at some point this season.
But back to that unpredictable English Premier League. Who could have predicted Queens Park Rangers signing goalkeeper Julio Cesar from Inter Milan. The Brazilian international and former Champions League winner did nothing to dampen expectations at Loftus Road when he set winning the Premier League as a target on his arrival. No small task for a club that has allowed six goals and scored just one in earning a draw and a loss from their first two matches.
Fellow Londoners Arsenal and Tottenham are hardly off to flying starts either. The Gunners have followed a bad off season by opening the new campaign with two scoreless draws. Rivals Spurs have been even worse, with a tie and a loss to start their season. New manager Andre Villas Boas was run out of town at Chelsea a year ago, only to see the Blues go on to claim the Champions League. It is very early yet, but the 34 year old managers reputation is on the line.
Manchester United caused the biggest splash of the summer when they landed Robin van Persie from Arsenal. We will have to wait a while before we see how the Dutch ace pairs with Wayne Rooney now that Rooney is out with a leg injury. Predictably Rooney has already been forced to deal with rumors that he is on his out of United. For the record, he says he is not going anywhere.
Meanwhile on the continent American eyes are on Roma, where Michael Bradley capped his debut with a gem of a game tying assist, and the Netherlands and Jozy Altidore. Altidore is off to a brilliant start for AZ Alkmaar. His four goals in the first two games led to a win and a tie, before the Cheese Farmers settled for a 0-0 draw in their most recent match.
The season has just begun in England and all across Europe and one prediction I feel safe in making is that it will be as much fun to watch, as it will be unpredictable.