The 2016-2017 European club season is already underway, and quite a few American players are breaking through at various clubs. Some have received senior and youth national team call ups, while others are hoping to make a case for future inclusion.
Here's four players who could take major strides forward in their professional careers this season:
Stanko is a 23-year old midfielder with FC Vaduz, on loan from recently promoted Bundesliga side SC Freiburg. Vaduz is a club based in Liechtenstein that plays in the Swiss Football League. They've had a slow start to the season, but Stanko has started three consecutive matches at defensive midfielder.
Like many young players, he was sent on loan to receive more playing time and adjust to the "rhythm" of the professional game. Stanko was a regular on Freiburg's bench last season after suffering an ACL tear in 2014, but only made five appearances. With Breisgau-Brasilianer being promoted and Freiburg II being relegated to the fifth division, it appears he found a potentially more beneficial situation for this season in Liechtenstein.
The Michigan native captained the U.S. under-20 national team at the 2013 U-20 World Cup and was called up to the senior team for May's friendly against Puerto Rico.
Theoson Jordan Siebatcheu
Playing for French Ligue 2 club Stade de Reims, the 20-year old Siebatcheu is a relative unknown. Last year, he revealed in an interview with FOOTU21 that he was born in Washington, D.C. and is eligible to play for the United States, France, and Cameroon. American Soccer Now recently reported that he's "eager to play for the United States" but "he likes Cameroon as well."
Siebatcheu, a 6'3" forward, scored three goals last season and recently opened his 2016-2017 account with a long-range effort in a 5-2 loss to Le Havre in the Coupe de la Ligue.
(Goal is at 2:40.)
Reims was relegated at the end of last season, but it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Siebatcheu, who has been with the club since the age of seven. He'll be receiving more playing time at a lower level, which will provide him with an opportunity to develop.
Born in Virginia, Aryibi has appeared with the U.S. under-20 and under-23 national teams. He's been navigating his way through the lower leagues of England after being released from Southampton's academy in 2013, but may be nearing a breakthrough after playing with Leeds United, Tranmere Rovers, and his current club Chesterfield.
Last season, Aryibi made 41 combined appearances, scoring three goals and adding eight assists. The 21-year old winger has reportedly drawn interest from several clubs, including Burnley, Reading, Blackburn, Fulham, and Rangers. Here's his highlight reel, in case you're wondering why he might be making the jump to a higher level:
Aryibi is also eligible to play for Nigeria and England, but has been fairly steadfast in his commitment to the U.S.
"It's a great country and I am proud to represent it," he said last fall during Olympic Qualifying. "It's been a great experience, and the players have welcomed me."
Picault made his debut with the national team in May, appearing in the second half of the friendly against Puerto Rico. He currently plays with FC St. Pauli in the 2. Bundesliga after spending time with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, and AC Sparta Prague.
The 25-year old striker/winger earned praise from national team head coach and technical director Jurgen Klinsmann several times last season.
"Fafa is a hungry goalscorer," Klinsmann said in May. "He's hungry for goals. He's hungry taking on people. He has speed obviously. These are things that are difficult to teach."
Picault already picked up an assist in St. Pauli's first match of the season, a 2-1 loss to VFB Stuttgart. If he continues to thrive in Germany, then inclusion during the current World Cup Qualifying cycle wouldn't come as a surprise. The U.S. is always looking for pacy wingers to add an extra dimension to the attack, and Picault has already caught Klinsmann's eye.