By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Aug 8, 2016) US Soccer Players – It’s time for the seasons to start in Europe. In the coming weeks, all of the major leagues return to action. In the mix in England and Germany are several high-profile American players. Coming off of the Copa Centenario run earlier this summer, some of those players are looking for time. Some are in new situations. All are looking to grab headlines over the next nine months. Whether it’s playing for silverware or avoiding relegation, there are opportunities for American soccer players.
The number of Americans playing in the Premier League has fallen in recent years. Players opt to return or stay in Major League Soccer. The appeal of seasons under the glare of the EPL isn’t what it was. Credit the growth of MLS, the rise in salaries, and wanting to play in front of American fans. The choice is tougher now than it was for players with options. Meanwhile, the Bundesliga has turned into a major source of talent for the USMNT.
With the start of another European club season upon us, here are five Americans to keep an eye on:
Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough - Premier League)
Aston Villa now plays in the Championship. Their goalkeeper for the last eight seasons isn’t making the drop with them. Guzan moved on. The 31-year-old goalkeeper was the US’s starter at the Copa Centenario. He had a phenomenal tournament, helping lead the Americans to a fourth-place finish.
This season, Guzan gets a new start, but he’s not the starter. He’ll have to show manager Aitor Karanka that he’s the one who should get the job against real competition. Goalkeeper is a position where Middlesbrough has a lot of depth. Guzan will have to compete with former Barcelona ‘keeper Victor Valdes, last season’s starter Dimi Konstantopoulos, and Tomas Mejias.
Middlesbrough loaded up on goalkeepers for their promotion season. They’ll spend the next few months trying to show the difference between fighting off relegation and slotting comfortably into the middle of the table.
John Brooks (Hertha BSC - Bundesliga)
The towering defender was a big reason why the US backline was so stingy at the recent Copa Centenario. He’s developed into one of the Bundesliga’s top defenders at 6-foot-4 also one of its more imposing. Last season, the center back played in 23 league games, scoring one goal.
It’s easy to forget that Brooks is only 23. He’s proven that he can handle the pressure of big international tournaments, but he still needs to show that he can make an impact at the club level.
Brooks’ Copa performance has drawn interest from other clubs. Hertha’s recent preliminary-round Europa League elimination is fueling speculation Brooks may get a transfer deal.
Matt Miazga (Chelsea – Premier League)
The former New York Red Bulls defender will play his first full season at Chelsea. His move to the London club last January was a sign that Major League Soccer is developing elite talent. While Chelsea had its troubles last season, the 21-year-old Miazga was able to play in two games under interim coach Guus Hiddink.
This season, Chelsea has a new manager in Antonio Conte. Miazga will need to show him that he belongs on the roster. While Conte continues to assess which players he will start or bench, the former Italy coach has hinted that Miazga could be sent out on loan this season.
Julian Green (Bayern Munich – Bundesliga)
Once praised as the next American superstar, Greene, at 21, remains a work in progress. He is a member of Bayern Munich but has never played for them in a Bundesliga match. Instead, he has spent his time since 2014 either on loan with Hamburger SV or with Bayern’s second team.
While Green regularly trains with the first team, he will need to get playing time if he wants to advance his career. His recent hat trick in the International Champions Cup against Inter Milan showed that Green can shine when he needs to. After all, he did score a goal for the United States at the 2014 World Cup against Belgium. Only time will tell if the promising striker gets some real minutes at Bayern or somewhere else this season.
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund – Bundesliga)
Another highly touted American prospect, Pulisic is even younger than Green. Last season, Pulisic joined Dortmund’s first team. He scored two twice in nine games. His first goal came against Bayer Leverkusen (at age 17 and 212 days), making him the youngest non-German to score a Bundesliga goal.
Pulisic has done a great job taking advantage of the players surrounding him. The midfielder earned a call-up to the USA’s Copa America roster, something that certainly helped him grow as a player. He also scored against Manchester City in the recent International Champions Cup. His hope is to be a bigger part of a bulked-up Dortmund team that wants to compete with Bayern Munich for the league title.
Based in New York City, Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. He covers all topics relating to American soccer, including Major League Soccer. He has covered the last two World Cups for the site. He is also the author of A History of the World Cup: 1930-2014. Clemente began writing for our site in July 2007. Find him on Twitter:http://twitter.com/ClementeLisi.
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