18 Americans Not Named Christian Pulisic You Need To Watch In Europe This Season
Let’s face it: when it comes to Americans playing abroad, there’s Christian Pulisic and then there’s everybody else.
But who is everybody else? There are 18 other U.S. nationals who will be playing in Europe this upcoming season with a chance of making Bruce Arena’s World Cup squad next summer. Some are well-known, like defenders John Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Others not so much, like Caleb Stanko and Lynden Gooch.
Heading into a World Cup year, club performances mean more than ever. As the 2017-18 European season grows near (the French Ligue 1 begins Friday), here are Americans abroad to watch each week.
Terrence Boyd has yet to score in 14 appearances with the U.S., but the German-born striker, 26, scored his Bundesliga goal earlier this year against Borussia Dortmund, though Darmstadt was subsequently relegated at the end of the season.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 11, 2017
Boyd, who is joined at Darmstadt by fellow American forward McKinze Gaines, 19, will be desperate to find his scoring touch to try to make an impression on Arena. At 6-2, Boyd is a strong center forward, a role that could be filled by the more in-form Dom Dwyer, who recently became a U.S. citizen.
If healthy, John Brooks is likely to be one of Bruce Arena’s first defenders on the World Cup roster. But after making a move from hometown club Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg, Brooks can’t afford to fall out of favor; he must play regularly.
— VfL Wolfsburg US (@VfLWolfsburg_US) July 16, 2017
Brooks is a rarity in American soccer, combining size (he’s 6-4) and a superb touch. Jurgen Klinsmann loved him for his passing ability but he’s also scored three goals as a defender, including the game-winner against Ghana in the 2014 World Cup opener. But he’s a defender first, and defenders must be both fit and match-sharp to compete at the highest level, so those will be vital for the 24-year-old this season.
Like Brooks, Geoff Cameron is one of the easiest picks for the USMNT. Since moving to Europe in 2012, Cameron has made 148 appearances with Stoke City, becoming one of the few Americans who hold down a regular job in England. He is tied with Brian McBride for second-most appearances in the Premier League by an outfield player.
Cameron’s versatility makes him one of the most important U.S. players. He can play anywhere on the back line and is just as comfortable at center mid, where he played with the Houston Dynamo for four years. He’ll have a spot on the World Cup roster if he can keep his knees healthy. (At 32, this is likely his last World Cup cycle.)
— Premier League USA (@PLinUSA) July 11, 2017
Another aspect of Cameron to watch is his patriotism. Cameron supported U.S. president Donald Trump’s travel ban earlier this year and leans conservative while many of his U.S. teammates (captain Michael Bradley, for one) have been critical of the president.
The son of a former American basketball player but born in England, Cameron Carter-Vickers, 19, is an exciting young defensive prospect for the U.S. Though he plays for a top European club, he really needs to get some playing time, soon.
Carter-Vickers has yet to make a first-team appearance with Tottenham in the Premier League, though he started two matches in both the FA Cup and League Cup. Similarly, he’s yet to make an appearance with the senior national team. Carter-Vickers played for the U.S. in youth competitions but has yet to be cap-tied and is still eligible to play for England.
The German-born right back playing for his hometown club Eintracht has made 29 appearances for the national team since his first appearance in 2013. A member of the last World Cup squad, he was one of the few players who didn’t make it into a match in Brazil.
Chandler is coming off one of his most productive seasons, making 38 appearances for Eintracht. Given that Arena has toyed with Graham Zusi at right back, the U.S. could use someone with strong European experience in Russia. Chandler is a better defender and gets up the field well to provide the added width Arena loves.
Lynden Gooch could have played for England, Ireland or the U.S. and after playing for the Irish U-18 team, was cap-tied to the U.S. in November. Gooch made 11 Premier League appearances last season, including starting the season opener against Manchester City, before injuries hampered the later stages of the season.
With Sunderland now relegated to the Championship, (and a new manager) Gooch could see his playing time increase. Still young at 21, Gooch could play his way into a crowded midfield for the World Cup, though he may have to wait until the next cycle to make his mark with the national team. Interestingly, Gooch has been played at center forward in two of Sunderland’s preseason exhibition matches.
Remember when Julian Green was the next big thing? Seemingly passed by Pulisic and forgotten by most, Green is still only 22, but desperately needs to find regular playing time. Despite signing for Bayern Munich in 2013, he never made a first-team appearance in the Bundesliga and after two loan spells transferred to Stuttgart in January.
— FC Bayern US (@FCBayernUS) October 12, 2016
Green made 10 appearances with Stuttgart, which gained promotion to the Bundesliga by winning 2. Bundesliga. But Jurgen Klinsmann, who shockingly brought Green to Brazil while leaving Landon Donovan behind, is no longer U.S. coach. Green will have to do much more this upcoming season to impress Arena enough to get back into the national team picture.
Aron Johansson is another forgotten figure in the national team picture, having not made an appearance since 2015. Injuries are partly to blame, scoring two goals in six matches before injury kept him out for about 11 months. But after he came back healthy for the start of the 2016-17 season, Johansson quickly fell out of favor with the Werder Bremen brass.
The 26-year-old Mobile, Alabama, native will have his work cut out for him to break back into the U.S. national team, but he has the platform to do it. If Johansson can score regularly with a mid-table club in Germany, he’ll force Arena to pick him for Russia.
Fabian Johnson recently told Arena he will only play for the U.S. in the “more important matches” and that he may retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup. Nonetheless, the aforementioned World Cup remains one of his major goals, he said.
— Gladbach (@borussia_en) May 11, 2017
Johnson, 29, is a versatile player who can be an attacking wingback or a strong wide midfielder. If he keeps his form and fitness, he should be in Russia, possibly a starter.
After making 29 appearances in the Scottish Premier League last season as captain of Heart of Midlothian, Perry Kitchen’s 2017-18 season has already begun in Denmark with new club Randers. The 25-year-old defensive midfielder is a solid player but has five U.S. caps to his name.
— Randers FC (@Randers_FC) July 5, 2017
Kitchen will have to do a lot to get Arena to recall him to the national team ahead of the World Cup, though he can’t be counted out. The USMNT’s top two defensive midfielders (Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman) will both be 36 by next summer’s World Cup, giving Kitchen and Danny Williams a way into the squad.
Despite playing in England since 2008, Eric Lichaj has had few chances with the national team, making 13 appearances since 2010. One of the few European-based players called in for the Gold Cup, Lichaj had a mixed bag against El Salvador in the quarterfinals, nearly giving away an early goal before redeeming himself with a goal.
Now a regular with Forest in England’s second tier, Lichaj, 28, has the experience needed to perform at the international level. Competition at right back is fierce for Arena’s squad, so a strong season will be necessary for Lichaj to be considered for Russia.
Matt Miazga made headlines when Chelsea bought him from the New York Red Bulls in January of 2016, though he became one of the legions of players Chelsea buys just to loan out. The 22-year-old defender performed well for Vitesse in the Dutch Eredivisie last season and will go out on loan with the same club again this season.
Miazga isn’t currently high on the centerback depth chart for the U.S. behind players like Brooks, Cameron, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, but his youth could be valuable. If he has another successful loan spell in the Netherlands, Miazga has a chance to stake his claim to be a backup defender next summer.
Fulham has been a popular landing spot for Americans playing in England, from Brian McBride to Clint Dempsey, who were both voted Fulham’s player of the year, twice. Tim Ream is the latest American playing for Fulham and is coming off a strong season where he made 42 appearances. The defender even scored the second goal of his career (though he also missed a highly publicized penalty).
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) May 2, 2017
Ream has been in and out of the U.S. lineup since 2010, never holding much of a grasp on a consistent spot. It will probably take an injury or two for Ream to break into the USMNT roster for Russia, but the 29-year-old is still in the conversation.
Kenny Saief swapped allegiances from Israel to the U.S. earlier this year after appearing twice for the Israeli national team in friendlies. He made his American debut as a substitute against Ghana in June, but injury kept him out of the ensuing Gold Cup.
Playing for Gent the last few years, Saief has more Champions League experience than most every other member of the U.S. player pool. That alone makes him an intriguing prospect for the World Cup squad. He’s also an attacking midfielder, a position the U.S. doesn’t have a ton of depth in.
Once healthy again, Saief will likely get another shot with the national team and he’ll need to perform with his fellow Americans to show he can translate his club game to the international level before Arena considers him for the World Cup.
OK, OK, stop giggling at the name. Heh, Stanko . . . Anyway, Caleb Stanko spent last season on loan at FC Vaduz in Liechtenstein (competing in the Swiss league). He played in 20 matches as a midfielder without recording a goal or an assist, but it was better than making five appearances with 2. Bundesliga squad Freiburg in 2015-16.
Stanko probably isn’t on Arena’s radar for the upcoming World Cup, but he did make his U.S. debut (and to date only cap) against Trinidad & Tobago in a World Cup qualifier in Sept. 2016. Barring a catastrophic injury bug to the U.S. midfield or a meteoric rise in his level of play, the 24-year-old is unlikely to figure into the 23-man roster for Russa.
The German youth international who switched as part of the Jurgen Klinsmann-inspired German contingent, Danny Williams will hope his move to newly promoted Huddersfield Town in the Premier League will aid a comeback with the U.S. national team.
Williams has experience in England and Germany and was a vital member of Reading, which lost to Huddersfield in the promotion playoffs. Williams is kind of like a Jermaine Jones Lite — a strong defensive midfielder who can distribute and occasionally contribute in attack. With Jones getting on in years (along with Kyle Beckerman), Williams stands a chance to play that role for the U.S. next summer.
Of all American players, Bobby Wood is probably most threatened by Dom Dwyer’s switch to represent his adopted country (the U.S.) over that of his birth (England). The two are similar in that they’re hard-working goal scorers, though Wood probably has a little more versatility, able to play as a winger or a central striker.
Wood hasn’t been able to build on his stellar 2015-16 season, when he scored 17 goals for 2. Bundesliga side Union Berlin. He transferred to the top tier with Hamburg, where he scored nine goals in 32 appearances — a solid return but not nearly as prolific. At 24, Wood has a good combination of youth and experience and a strong season could see him at the 2018 World Cup.
Given his speed, athleticism and increasingly effective defensive qualities, DeAndre Yedlin will probably be a starter for the U.S. in Russia next summer. After helping Newcastle earn promotion Yedlin will return to the Premier League for the first time since playing on loan with Newcastle rival Sunderland in 2015-16.
Being back in the Premier League will give Yedlin the experience he needs to continue his growth as one of America’s top players. He’ll just want to make sure he stays healthy and doesn’t fall out of favor with manager Rafael Benitez so he’s ready in come summertime.