Now that the dust is settling on the summer transfer window, the moves made by USMNT players can be dissected a bit, divorced from any initial excitement or disappointment of a move. It’s easy to have a gut-check reaction to a move the first time you hear it; it’s a little harder to give it an honest look-over to see how the move will benefit the player and the U.S. moving forward. So, we’ll do just that. We’ve left out youth moves here and limited the list to only players who have gotten themselves at least one senior cap for simplicity’s sake. Sorry if you were really, really looking forward to an Emmanuel Sabbi take.
Joining: Colorado Rapids
Tim Howard had pretty clearly fallen out of favor at Everton, riding pine for his final few months in England. It made sense. His play had fallen off the pace on a consistent basis and being closer to 40 than he was to 30, it was time for Everton to give him a testimonial send-off and sell him. At 37, Howard decided to go home, and while no one thought the Rapids would be a highly competitive team when the deal was initially reported, they surprised just about everyone to blitz through the Western Conference to the tune of 43 points, good for 3rd place thus far. Howard has also picked his game up once more, recording some impressive saves and looking more like the 2014 version of himself than the 2015 model.
Hard to argue with results like that. Howard looks like his move is paying off just fine.
Joining: Philadelphia Union
Leaving: FC Nantes
There were many people who decried Bedoya joining MLS as another Michael Bradley situation, a player trading top-flight European status for money and comfort rather than continuing to challenge himself and up his game. The underlying assumption was that Bedoya’s level of play for the U.S. would drop in a similar fashion to Bradley’s (who, it must be said at this point, doesn’t really have any excuses left as to his play in big competitions - coming from someone who has defended him many times the past few years).
The big difference between those two transfers is the difference in the game of each of these players. Michael Bradley developed a reputation as the most calm and smart player on the ball in the U.S. player pool from 2009 to around 2012 or so. That facade has chipped thoroughly away after some poor decision making at key times over the past few tournaments cost the U.S. Bedoya, on the other hand, is mostly known as a workhorse who knows how to hit the ball hard with his right foot. I don’t think the MLS transfer will affect his international play too much because he’s stepped into a good situation technical director Earnie Stewart has set up for him, and because MLS plays to his strengths of getting running around everywhere, chipping in offensively and disrupting play defensively as much as possible. If he’s happy, I don’t think moving from the lower levels of Ligue 1 to MLS is that much of a net difference either way.
Joining: AFC Bournemouth
Hyndman probably won the prize for most interesting move of the summer. It’s been obvious that Hyndman is talented for quite some time now, but despite several good showings for Fulham in the Championship, the coaching carousel at the cottage over the past couple seasons wreaked havoc on his playing time. With rumors of far larger clubs sniffing around the young Texan, Hyndman instead joined joined the Cherries, one of the feel-good stories of the past several English seasons. After facing club liquidation and a point penalty that would almost surely dissolve the club, Bournemouth staved off relegation from League Two and then marched up the ranks of English football to the Premier League, all under the guidance of the man who is has coached them for seven years and is still one of the youngest managers in England, Eddie Howe.
Bournemouth is an intriguing option for Hyndman, as they have a reputation for making the most of what they have and developing young players (Harry Arter joined the club at 21 years old while they were still in League One. Now he’s a Premier League starter). On the other hand, playing time will still be a struggle for Emo; other transfers the Cherries made this summer include Jordan Ibe from Liverpool and Jack Wilshere on loan from Arsenal. The tiny beach club is ambitious, and the willingness to face a challenge from Hyndman is certainly commendable. It’ll be up to him to shake off his preseason injury problems and secure a spot in the team.
Joining: Middlesbrough FC
Leaving: Aston Villa
It was pretty clear Guzan needed out of Villa. Devoid of confidence after a horrendous season and not a very big hit with the fans, either, Guzan landed at Middlesbrough, who had a very busy summer signing season in preparation for their return to the Premier League.
Guzan initially started the season as second-choice to Victor Valdes, but an injury to the former Barcelona man handed him the #1 keeper spot once again. The performances have been...middling.
If Guzan is the answer what the hell was the question???? ⚽️— Colin (@ColinJGregg) August 24, 2016
But Guzan also hasn’t lost in the Premier League yet with Boro, so at least there’s that. In all seriousness, good on Guzan for finding a way back into the Premier League and out of a bad situation at Villa, but he’ll still need to keep fighting for his spot every week.
Staying at Borussia Dortmund
This was always the correct move for Pulisic. At 17, he’s still very important to Dortmund’s plans, so there was no way they were going to sell him, and the uncertainty of a loan move most likely didn’t appeal to a club with one of the best youth academies in the world. First team minutes aren’t absolutely all-important at such an early stage in his career, and if Dortmund know one thing, it’s how to shape a prospect into a star. Keep the faith even if Pulisic misses out on some first team squads this season. The Germans know what they’re doing.
Joining: Vitesse Arnhem (Loan)
Leaving: Chelsea FC
Look, Chelsea’s youth development is pretty much a black hole filled with weeping puppies. They’re better known for burying players on the depth chart and then not doing anything with them then they are for taking a youth prospect and turning him into a first team contributor. That may change under Antonio Conte, but this remains to be seen.
It is clear Miazga needs a lot of development tactically to ever hope to play for Chelsea again, and to that end, a loan to a lesser league will generally help that. Many will say that he could have kept developing at the Red Bulls, and while that’s true, it’s also true that Miazga really wanted to go to Europe. So: huzzah for finding more realistic playing time, but still cautious as long as he’s a Chelsea player. Their leashes typically are not very long.
Joining: Hamburger SV
Leaving: Union Berlin
After a season spent atop the scoring charts in the 2. Bundesliga, a step up to the big time meant logical sense for Bobby Wood. Capitalize on his blistering scoring rate. Keep pushing his learning curve. Challenge himself at a higher level.
Yep. Things are going well.
Joining: Newcastle FC
Leaving: Tottenham Hotspur
After a successful end to his stint with Sunderland, many hoped Yedlin might be able to crack the top couple of spots at right back in North London. None such luck, however, as Yedlin eventually completed a move back to England’s northeast, this time with the opposite side of the Tyne-Wear Derby, Newcastle. As a newly relegated side, Newcastle should provide a bit more opportunity for Yedlin to get into starting XIs, while also immediately competing for a return to the Premier League. Yedlin has all the physical tools he needs. He just needs games if he wants to continue developing his tactical acumen.