As Brenden Aaronson, Jordan Morris, Paul Arriola, and Bryan Reynolds make the move to Europe, it’s safe to say America’s standing abroad has never been better. In the parlance of 2021, United States Men’s National Team players and prospects are going to the moon and we’ve got tendies for everyone.
With the closure of the winter transfer market let’s track the Yanks on the move and give out some admittedly nonsensical hype ratings for fun.
Brenden Aaronson — Red Bull Salzburg, $6 million
In less than 2 years, Aaronson went from scoring on his debut for the Philadelphia Union to scoring on his debut for Red Bull Salzburg in a recent friendly. Not only did the $6 million transfer fee fill Philly’s coffers, but Aaronson is getting the most super soft European landing of any American I can remember. American Jesse Marsch helms the perennial Austrian champs and Aaronson could get Champions League minutes. All at the age of 20.
Hype Rating: Gamestop Stock. Do not sell your Aaronson stock. Don’t do it.
Mark McKenzie — Genk, $6 million
We’re calling it. McKenzie has officially displaced former U.S. Soccer Olympian Rob Smith as the best ever American player from Delaware.
He’s immediately in the picture for Genk with two starts in his three appearances. His interviews have been clear…he wants to appear for the national team and has an eye on climbing the ranks of European soccer. On his current trajectory, it’s unlikely he’s at Genk for more than a few seasons. He’s only 21 and has every opportunity of continuing to grow.
Hype Rating: A new Taylor Swift album
Joe Scally — Borussia Mönchengladbach, $2 million
Scally’s transfer was agreed upon in November 2019 and was finalized on January 1st, the day after he turned 18. As a reminder, uncapped Americans who don’t have a EU passport can’t transfer to European clubs before the age of 18.
There’s something to be desired here as we’ve seen more of Scally in a USYNT jersey than a professional kit. For that reason you love this move. A European team spending seven figures on a young talented player immediately invests them in developing that talent.
Hype Rating: When any restaurant introduces a new spicy chicken sandwich
DeAndre Yedlin — Galatasaray, undisclosed fee
This transfer is an incomplete. Yedlin originally struggled to find his place with Newcastle but had cemented himself as a regular in the starting XI. Next thing we know, he’s on the move to Turkey with reports there was a “visa problem” which caused the move.
The positive is the move may put Yedlin in European competition, as Galatasaray is a common Champions League or Europa League participant. The downside is the history of American players in Turkey is simultaneously inconclusive and unsuccessful.
Hype Rating: Celebrity birth announcement
Caden Clark — RB Leipzig, $2 million - $3 million
Few players have as much riding on the prospects of a 2021 MLS season than Clark. This transfer doesn’t convey until he’s old enough to smoke and gamble. A shortened, delayed or canceled MLS season all make it unclear where Clark gets competitive minutes in professional games.
Hype Rating: A hipster moving to Portland
Duane Holmes - Huddersfield Town, undisclosed fee
Duane Holmes has battled injuries and inconsistent playing time at Derby County, with new manager Wayne Rooney holding Holmes out of recent matches for “footballing reasons.” Holmes gets a move to his boyhood club, Huddersfield Town, and he hopes that he can find consistent playing time for a team that is currently in 14th in the Championship table. One thing is for sure: he will be extremely comfortable playing at Kirklees Stadium
Hype Rating: A new, cool pillow fresh out the package
Loan To Transfer
Bryan Reynolds — AS Roma
A 19-year-old American right back attracted a bidding war between Juventus and AS Roma. Pinch me.
Hype Rating: A new iPhone release
Bobby Wood desperately wants to get his career back on track. The 28-year-old signed a pre-contract with Real Salt Lake, and he will finally leave Germany to head to the United States and MLS. He will come in the summertime, and with the MLS negotiations not going well, he may be able to slide right in with RSL’s offense right at the beginning of their season. His hope is that he can regain the magic that had him as a focal part of the USMNT offense for a few years.
Hype Rating: A Buick Deuce and a Quarter in need of new spark plugs
Jordan Morris — Swansea City
You can’t spell Swansea City, Wales, United Kingdom without “USA,” kinda. Ok. That’s a stretch. Hit us with something better in the comments.
This is where I have to reveal myself as a U.S. Soccer fan who wishes this move had happened already. Having disclosed that and ignited the comments...Swansea has a real opportunity to win promotion to the Premier League. And Morris has the opportunity to be a driver or difference maker in that campaign.
They boast the EFL Championship’s best defense and additional goals can likely keep them in the promotion zone. Here comes the man from the Pacific Northwest with a nose for goal. Swansea didn’t hesitate to give him some minutes as a sub in his first game (sick kits, Swansea) and Morris can force his way onto the field more with his ability to play up top or on the wing.
This isn’t an attempt to box Morris in. The transfer comes with an expectation of success, but success isn’t defined by promotion. If Morris can bag a few goals and prove his versatility a Premier League club will come calling.
Plain and simple Morris has always had a higher ceiling than most of the USMNT players in MLS. Perhaps it’s not fair, but it does explain the criticism and expectation of a European move. It’s finally happened and we should all commit to raising a drink for Morris when he nets his first goal. Even if its at 6 a.m. on the West Coast.
Hype Rating: A new Star Wars movie
Tyler Boyd - Sivasspor
Tyler Boyd needs playing time more than just about any other player in the USMNT player pool. A year after signing for Beşiktaş, the team did not register him on their roster to satisfy their foreign roster cap. Despite his belief that he would be an active part of their roster in the 2nd half of the season, he was once again left off the team’s registered roster, which prompted the need for a move. At Sivasspor, he hopes he can get back to match fitness and get solid minutes so that he can stay fresh in the mind as an option for USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter.
Hype Rating: A Couch to 10K book
Daryl Dike — Barnsley
There’s a handful of strikers we still don’t have a clear handle on, and one of them is getting thrown straight into the EFL Championship. Sitting in 12th, promotion is unlikely, but an opportunity to see Dike take on European competition will do a lot to help us refine our assessment and calibrate our expectations for the future.
Hype Rating: Your bestie describing how excited they are for you to meet their new flame
Paul Arriola — Swansea City
My friend Dan put it best: “To me, Arriola is 31 and somehow he’s only 25.”
Arriola hasn’t collected the MLS accolades Jordan Morris has, but it feels like a new challenge will serve us well as fans. Arriola has regularly looked solid in a USMNT jersey, but there’s no doubt the midfield competition has passed him by.
A loan move to Wales, even if it doesn’t result in a permanent move, is fan service. It gives us a great sense for his ceiling and what he could bring to a player pool over the next two years.
Hype Rating: Test driving your dream car
Indiana Vassilev — Cheltenham
There is little doubt in our mind. If this loan occurred a month ago Cheltenham would have upset Man City in the FA Cup. Zero doubt.
Back to reality... Indiana needs to be on the pitch in competitive matches. If this loan achieves that goal then it’s for the best. It’s the second he’s been sent on by Aston Villa since making four substitute appearances in the Premier League last year.
Having watched all of his EPL minutes last season, Vassilev looked overmatched. So far his journey in England feels more like a 2011 USMNT experience. But there’s still time for that to turn around.
Hopefully getting regular competitive minutes helps him find a stride.
Hype Rating: A treadmill you buy on Black Friday
There you have it. We missed several players, but weren’t trying to be comprehensive. We were striving to cover as many players in the roster pool as possible. If there’s a transfer or loan you think we should be watching, let us know.
Did those hype ratings make no sense? Ya, we weren’t trying to be rational. At a certain point we’ve got to take a deep breath and remember good things are happening, but there’s a ton of story still to be written.
Have better hype ratings? Hit us with them in the comments.