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What will become of the various loaned Americans?
   May 22, 2011 (12:00 AM) by Howie Michaels     Email This Post Email This Post

This was one of the more interesting transfer windows for Americans in recent years as we saw a rash of loans for some Yanks in Europe. While some fizzled out early (see: Grella, Mike), most of the other ones are finishing up this month, leaving several prominent Nats with very uncertain futures heading into the summer. Let’s take a look at those:

Jozy Altidore
While Bursaspor was unable to repeat as Süper Liga champions (not to Jozy’s fault as Fenerbahçe and Trabzonspor went Old Firm on everyone else this year), he generally received positive reviews in his stint. He disappeared from the lineup a bit in recent weeks (some have speculated this might be part of negotiation ploys), few have been negative as the still-young American has helped them maintain a Europa League spot (although at some point he needs to score).

It’s hard to get a read on what Villarreal thinks of him— at times, they insist that they consider him an integral part of their future, at other times they seem to be waiting for an offer that cuts their $10M transfer fee from 2008 to as small of a loss as possible. The likely departure of American supervillain Giuseppi Rossi would open up playing time, but it would also give the Yellow Submarines some serious spending money. There have been rumors (and we all know that every transfer rumor on the Internet is true) of interest from some Dutch clubs. That would probably be a great fit for him.

Freddy Adu
The initial reaction of most to the one-time American Pelé joining a second-division Turkish side (after having failed flings in Switzerland and Denmark) was that he needed to return to MLS. Matt and I discussed were both more of the opinion that it might not be bad as it was far from the spotlight and any distractions. Adu had actually had a decent loan spell with Aris last year before discussions on his state between Aris and Benfica fell through, so I was somewhat cautiously optimistic.

While the competition is obviously not great, I don’t think anyone could argue that the results for Adu haven’t been. He’s scored four goals in eleven matches, showing some flashes of brilliance with the ball at his feet. Rizespor are in the promotion playoffs, leaving open the possibility of there being two young Turks next year. Like with Altidore, his long-term status depends on part on the willingness of his primary club to take a loss on their initial investment. He only cost Benfica $2 million, so there is less of a loss. He does have one year remaining on his initial deal. I think there’s a good chance he remains with Rizespor, especially if they earn promotion.

Michael Bradley
The most difficult to read for multiple reasons. His parent club, Borussia Monchengladbach, is clinging to a 1-0 lead over Vfl Bochum heading into the Bochum home leg of their promotion/relegation playoff. He barely saw the field for Aston Villa (a particularly odd deal, given that he was a mid-season loan from an on-par league for a club battling relegation). There have been some suggestions that Villa liked him (although they didn’t show it much) and their crowded midfield may be opened up a bit this summer. In addition, Gérard Houllier’s health problems leave the manager position at Villa Park completely up in the air.

I think most would agree that ‘Gladbach can’t afford to keep him if they go down, but in order to sell there has to be a buyer. Bradley’s resume (generally a reliable box-to-box central mid, a good World Cup, etc.) is good, but the Villa stint (non-stint?) will probably weigh a heavy factor in any pursuit. A lot of it hinges on the way things unfold in the Villa front office and on the field in Germany tomorrow. I would not be shocked if Bradley’s situation remained up in the air throughout the summer.

Jermaine Jones
Jones had one of the more successful loan spells. After a rocky return from injury at Schalke 04 during the fall, Jones looked rejuvenated in England, earning man of the match plaudits on a few occasions while with Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn isn’t safe yet, but if they survive it would not be surprising at all to see them try to make the move permanent. It’s difficult to forecast things from Schalke’s end– they had one of the oddest seasons in recent memory, finishing just four points clear of the drop zone playoff while winning the DFB-Pokal and making the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Regardless, I’ll predict that Jones stays with Blackburn.

Oguchi Onyewu
Onyewu was another player who benefitted from a loan. While his performances at FC Twente were not without down points (see: the Europa League tie against Villarreal), they did win the KNVB Cup and will be in Champions League qualifying next year. Reuniting with Michel Preud’homme, his one-time manager at Standard Liege, clearly was beneficial for Onyewu, who even made some decent appearances at leftback. He signed on a free, so he might be able to depart Milan without a massive transfer cost. If Twente isn’t his destination, I would still expect him to wind up somewhere in the Low Countries.

Brad Guzan
Making his first league starts since the glory days of the Preki regime at Chivas USA, Guzan acquitted himself well in a multi-part loan with Hull City. While Brad Friedel appears set to leave Aston Villa, there are some signs that Guzan still isn’t part of the long-term plans at Villa Park (again, it’s hard to say how long-term Villa is thinking until the management situation stabilizes). If he isn’t, Hull seemed pleased with his efforts. Hull released goalkeeper Matt Duke and Vito Mannone has returned to his parent club Arsenal, so there may be an opening there. If not, it seems that several top-end Championship clubs are interested in Guzan. Any of them would be a great fit for Guzan who at this point in his career needs to be playing every week. Word has it that he is one of several players in the mix for the Hull job (although I’ve read that work permit issues might come up, which means Matt’s prediction of him playing in the Gold Cup might come true).

Eric Lichaj
A very good loan spell. Lichaj played at both fullback positions as Leeds made a run at a second straight promotion. Like Bradley and Guzan, it will probably depend in part on how things shake out in the front office. A permanent move– and it sounds as though there is some mutual interest– would be great in my estimation. There have been some rumors of interest from some of the lower-end Premier League clubs, but in my estimation a Leeds move might be better– he’s already somewhat established there, and relegation-threatened clubs never seem to be friendly to less-experienced players. Here’s to hoping he stays with the club that gave us The Damned United and Kaiser Chiefs.

Eddie Johnson
He isn’t staying at Preston North End, that’s for sure. They could never afford his contract in League One. While some have argued he needs to return to MLS, I hope he can secure a move to Greece at some point– by all accounts, his contract was the only reason he didn’t stay with Aris last year.

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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: Brad Guzan, Eddie Johnson, Eric Lichaj, Freddy Adu, Jermaine Jones, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley

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