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Which Americans could parlay this World Cup into big transfers?
   June 7, 2014 (10:25 AM) by Howie Michaels     Email This Post Email This Post

Two guys are ineligible for this list. Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler have already signed new deals with teams in Germany, so they won’t be moving again this summer. There are also two guys who pretty much seem set to move— Jermaine Jones is done with Schalke and may or may not return to Beşiktaş. DaMarcus Beasley by most accounts will probably be moving to MLS this summer— so I’m not including them below.

While fans tend to overrate tournaments (small sample size) and owners/coaches can be irrational, scouts and coaches are pretty smart/watch a ton of games and probably aren’t going to rethink their thoughts on years of top-level games because of a handful of performances now . In that regard, playing a little off the beaten path could actually help a guy out here.

I tried to evaluate who might be set to make a big move, considering age, current league, current club, recent form with club, and likely playing time. League matters- it’s easier to make a jump from a lower league (like Mix Diskerud) than from a decent league already (like Alejandro Bedoya). I also assumed that any given player actually played well and to their ability.

We’ll begin after the jump.

No Chance
Tim Howard
Brad Davis
Kyle Beckerman
Nick Rimando
Clint Dempsey

These guys are all on the wrong side of 30. Howard recently signed a four-year extension with Everton and basically announced his retirement at the end of it. Beckerman and Davis are both 32 year-old career MLS guys with a ton of mileage on their legs and are legends with their respective clubs. While goalkeepers can play seemingly forever, Rimando is in the same boat. If Dempsey was still with Tottenham, I could have seen a chance of him making a step down after this World Cup, but he certainly isn’t leaving Seattle and MLS now.

Pretty Unlikely
Brad Guzan
Would there be buyers? Probably not, mainly because he’s probably not going to play.  There are probably plenty of  clubs that wouldn’t mind having him, I guess.
Would there be a seller? I’m not familiar with the internal politics of the Aston Villa clubhouse, but it’s hard to see why you’d want to sell a guy who has kept you in the Premier League and is in no way old for a keeper.

Geoff Cameron
Would there be buyers? Maybe? He’s not old (will turn 29 during the World Cup) but is probably on the second half of his prime years where he wouldn’t have much resell value. The fact that he’ll be playing a different position than with Stoke makes this slightly more likely—I could see a team being like “wow, he’s an amazing CB and Stoke is crazy for putting him out wide” or something. He plays in the most-watched league in the world though so it’s hard to imagine him catching the eye of anyone who wasn’t aware of him before.
Would there be a seller? I doubt that Stoke views him as untouchable or anything but he has played 72 of 76 Premier League matches the last two years so Stoke obviously considers him useful. While Stoke had a really nice year and consistently finishes out of relegation contention they are not exactly a rich club and even if there are plenty of Cameron-level players available there’s guarantee that they could find one that works as well as he has.

Chris Wondolowski:
Would there be buyers? Probably not, and you could argue for him being in the first category but I’m putting him here because 1) he has close to zero international profile so if he has a bit of a blank slate 2) despite the fact that he is two months older than Clint Dempsey he has played ~230 senior games (league, cup, Champions League, international matches, etc.) vs. Dempsey’s ~500. So in a sense he’s a “young” 31 in terms of mileage on his legs. 3) He plays a style that doesn’t really rely on great physical skills. While I don’t expect it to happen I could see Wondolowski being appealing to some analytics-heavy team that likes his metrics despite his lack of flash.
Would there be a seller? I’d be pretty shocked to see San Jose part with the face of the franchise right before opening a new stadium.

Michael Bradley
Would there be buyers? Yes. For his age and talent level, Bradley is waaaay overqualified to be playing in MLS.  I expect him to play well because he almost always does, and you don’t think that a ton of European squads would be all over a shot to buy him if he put in Man of the Match performances as the US advanced to the second round?
Would there be a seller? Alas, I don’t think that MLS— having bet big on 2015 with expansion, American national team players, and old guys from Europe— would want to part with him. Also, before everyone goes MLS Truther, a staggering Toronto franchise that went all-in on a makeover isn’t going to give up their best player when they have a shot to make the playoffs for the first time in club history.

Not Yet
10. Julian Green
Would there be buyers? If he plays much, for sure. Tottenham has allegedly already put in an $8.4M bid. If the third-youngest player at the World Cup were to impress, I don’t doubt that many teams would be interested in the dual-national (so an EU passport) with Bayern Munich pedigree. But minutes will probably be limited.
Would there be a seller? I don’t think so. Bayern is supposedly high on Green, who led their reserve team in scoring. If they rate him at all and he plays well in Brazil, it seems more likely that he’d be in the first-team mix (or sent on a development loan for tougher competition than the Regionalliga) than selling him so early.

9. DeAndre Yedlin
Would there be buyers?  Doubtful, just because he probably isn’t going to play much.  As it stands right now, he is probably the third-choice right back and would probably only get minutes as a super-sub type. If that’s what he’s limited to, even if he impresses I don’t think it would be much of an audition (ie., no one is going to buy a right back based on his efforts attacking late in a game).
Would there be a seller? Well, there’s that, too. Seattle is atop MLS right now and has spent pretty heavily to try to win. They could absorb the loss of Yedlin, but it would be a blow for a coach who is desperate to win this year after several disappointments. Plus, Yedlin right now doesn’t count against the salary cap, so he gives them roster flexibility.

8. John Brooks
Would there be buyers? I wouldn’t be shocked if he got at least one start in Brazil so he might have an opportunity. While he had an up-and-down year, he’s only 21 at a position where development tends to be a little slower. I think it’s tougher for a centerback to stand out without a series of performances though, so I don’t think he’ll get the chance to take the World by storm.
Would there be a seller? His minutes were spotty at times last year, so you could argue that he’s Hertha’s #3 centerback, and Hertha just signed John Heitinga. So they’d probably be willing to part with him if the price was right, although if he plays well you could argue they’d be selling low.

Varying Degrees of Maybe
7. Omar Gonzalez
Would there be buyers? Much like with Brooks, the issue with Gonzalez will be playing time. He’s an otherwise attractive prospect- not yet 26 with physical tools and a pretty solid track record in MLS, and some clubs have purportedly shown interest before. His biggest flaw has always been his tendency to have mental lapses, but if he plays well at the World Cup presumably that means he cleans those up. But I’m not sure the minutes will be there.
Would there be a seller? Los Angeles locked him up with a designated player contract last year, and he’s been a long-time star, but the Galaxy have a stacked development system, tend to draft well, have won two titles recently, and don’t really need Gonzalez’s star power. I think they’d be quite willing to sell.

6. Alejandro Bedoya
Would there be buyers? I think Bedoya will get minutes and a chance to impress. His bigger problem compared to Zusi (who is in a similar boat) is that he’s already in a pretty decent league. The only way up for Bedoya now would be a top French club or a Serie A/La Liga/Bundesliga/EPL gig. That just limits the pool. He’s 27, which means he’s still got a few years left of his prime, and has proven capable of playing  a range of positions at a decent level.
Would there be a seller? Nantes held off relegation last year with Bedoya as a regular. They obviously liked him, but they also signed him for free so a chance to make a quick profit might be tempting.

5. Graham Zusi
Would there be buyers? I think so. While he’s not the fleetest of foot, he is technically very good, and when the US has done well in the last year it’s often come through his service. He’s a little older (would be 28 by the next season), which limits his bidders. Since he plays at a lower level than Bedoya, there are more possible landing spots for him, although I doubt that the likes of Beligum would be interested since he probably lacks sell-on value.
Would there be a seller? While Sporting KC has worked hard to lock him up, they’ve also been pretty consistent in not standing in the way of a chance for a player to go abroad. They also just won a title, which I think makes it easier to sell a star (and “give up” on this season).

4. Jozy Altidore
Would there be buyers? Jozy was easily the hardest guy to evaluate. One year ago, he went for $13 million to a Premier League team, is still a half-year away from turning 25, and if the US does well he could ramp up interest. On the other hand, any team pursuing him would have to hope that it was Sunderland’s fault he struggled and ignore a career run of 2 goals in 58 Premier League matches. Can 3+ strong matches make teams forget about a season where he was hailed as one of the worst Premier League signings? He’ll probably start every match.
Would there be sellers? Sunderland wasn’t particularly enamored with him as the season went along, and their current manager is not the man who brought him in. If Jozy, say, scores twice and puts in strong efforts up top as the US makes the Round of 16, and a team comes in with an $8M bid, does Sunderland just try to recoup some of their investment? Like I said, he’s tough to evaluate.

3. Matt Besler
Would there be buyers? Besler should start every match in Brazil, so he’ll get a chance to impress. He had zero national team caps until 2013, so his international profile is pretty limited. I’m biased as a Sporting KC fan who has watched him dozens of times, but if he shows he can handle the attackers of European powers and shows off his solid passing skills, I think he’d make an attractive target. He’s not young (27), but centerbacks can be useful past 30.
Would there be a seller? Much like with Zusi, I think Kansas City would step out of the way if a reasonable bid came in.

2. Mix Diskerud
Would there be buyers? I don’t think Diskerud will start in Brazil, but I am guessing he makes at least two appearances off the bench to try to change up the game. If he puts up great super-sub performances and maybe makes a play like his assist to seal the Mexico win last fall, I think he’d be attractive. He’s only 23 and has the sort of flair that can grab attention.
Would there be a seller? I am guessing that Rosenborg would be willing to sell. They missed on the title narrowly last year but probably aren’t going to get it this year. They aren’t likely to be in danger of relegation and generally play in a selling league.

1.  Aron Johannsson
Would there be buyers? Definitely. The Eredivisie has a pretty strong history of producing forwards, and Johannsson was third in the league in scoring last year. I think he’ll get minutes in Brazil. He’s only 23. He’s pretty close to the ideal profile for this list.
Would there be a seller? The Eredivisie basically exists because of its ability to buy attackers cheap and turn around and sell them for a profit. (See: Altidore, Jozy). I’d be shocked if Johannsson is still in the Netherlands in three years. Three months wouldn’t be that much more shocking.

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Howie Michaels

Howie once received a death threat at a USA-Brazil friendly. He still believes in Fred Adu. He plays forward in coed rec, although not well.

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Categories: Alejandro Bedoya, Aron Johannsson, DeAndre Yedlin, Graham Zusi, John Brooks, Jozy Altidore, Julian Green, Matt Besler, Mix Diskerud, Omar Gonzalez

2 Responses to “Which Americans could parlay this World Cup into big transfers?”

  1. wfrw07 says:

    Bedoya isn’t going anywhere. Nantes is on a transfer ban so they can’t sell him because they can’t replace him.

  2. Yankeedom says:

    Great idea for an article and good read!
    Hopefully Besler, Mix and Aaron perform well and move abroad to one of the top 5 leagues.

    As much as I think Bradley coming back to MLS was a good thing for the league, I’d really like him to transfer back to a Uefa Champions League side.

    Love the site, keep up the good work!

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