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Americans at home: New places for old faces

The season is set to begin and some USMNT players have new teams

Real Salt Lake v San Jose Earthquakes Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The MLS season is upon us and teams have been making moves now that the details of the CBA have been ironed out. In just about a month the league will kick off and some Americans with links to the USMNT, or potential links, have made a new home. Here’s a look at some players who made moves in the league ahead of the start of the 2021 campaign.

Wil Trapp: After a year in Miami, Trapp has once again packed up and found a new MLS team. This time he’s headed to Minnesota United where he’s going to have some high expectations following the Loons trip to the Western Conference Finals. Trapp is a fringe USMNT player at this point, but a good showing in the domestic league may once again get him on the radar of his former manager come time for the Gold Cup and Nations League.

Djordje Mihailovic: The Chicago Fire sent Mihailovic to Montreal in exchange for a bunch of MLS money in the offseason. Mihailovic was excited for the move and the chance to play for Thierry Henry saying, “I could sense that desire to have me in the club, the belief that he and his staff [have] in me,” Mihailovic said. “When I spoke with Thierry and I heard his words personally, it really solidified my choice to play in Montreal.” About a month later Henry resigned from his position as manager. So Mihailovic is now in Montreal playing for a team that just did a rebrand that seemed totally unnecessary with no manager or real hope for making the playoffs. Time is a flat circle.

Frankie Amaya: OK, he’s not on a new team, but he might as well be. FC Cincinnati followed a familiar blueprint for expansion teams. Hope that whatever they did when they threw together the roster in the first season wasn’t a huge embarrassment, make marginal changes for year two, and then when the stadium opens in year three actually try. This is good news for Amaya who will not play alongside good teammates like Brenner and Ronald Matarrita, Luciano Acosta may also be on the way and if that’s the case Amaya should really be able to show what he can do on a competitive team.

Corey Baird: Following three seasons in Salt Lake City, Baird was traded to LAFC where he will be playing for a stable and competent organization. While LA struggled last year, Baird will bring another attacking option for a team that will look to get back to scoring goals in bunches and relentlessly attacking. Playing for Bob Bradley should also help the attacker perhaps find a bit more production after a slow start in 2019 and 2020 season where he was expected to carry much of the attacking load in SLC.

Nick Lima: The San Jose Earthquakes had a difficult 2020 season characterized by giving up lots and lots of goals. Expansion side Austin FC brought Lima into what seems like a solid roster. At the very least, it has the look of a good MLS team with a mix of players with experience in the league and exciting new international faces.

Sebastian Berhalter: The USMNT manager’s son joins Austin on loan from Columbus. Will Berhalter start or see a lot of minutes for Austin? It’s a good question and presumably Columbus sent him there with the understanding that he’d play. At the very least, he’s worth paying attention to because he’s the SMNT manager’s son.

Andrew Gutman: After a stint with FC Cincinnati on loan from Celtic, Atlanta United acquired Gutman’s rights, brought him in from Scotland, and then loaned him to NY Red Bulls. Gutman scored loads of goals in college but hasn’t shown that same attacking prowess in MLS. Going to a side that seems set to once again get back to its old pressing ways will be important for Gutman’s development. Should Atlanta transfer George Bello after this season, he’ll also have an inside track to a starting role next year.