Another American player is heading abroad.
Royal Antwerp announced the signing of Sam Vines, pending medical tests. His contract is for three seasons with the option for an additional year. The Colorado Rapids are reportedly receiving “a fee upwards of $2 million” for the 22-year-old left back. There is also a sell-on clause.
Er is een akkoord tussen Colorado Rapids & RAFC omtrent Sam Vines!— Royal Antwerp FC (@official_rafc) August 5, 2021
De linksback legt zijn medische testen af en zal nadien een contract voor 3 seizoenen ondertekenen met één jaar optie! ❤️ #RAFC #OneRedFamily pic.twitter.com/OCMDTRzlfj
Vines landed in Belgium this morning. “Fortunately, I was able to get some sleep,” he told the assembled media. “The move had to go very quickly after the Gold Cup. It was all exhausting. Luckily, I had just ten hours to sleep. It’ll be fine. I can’t wait to start at Antwerp.”
The Colorado Springs native began his career with the Rapids in 2018 after several years in the club’s academy. He quietly emerged as one of the better left backs in Major League Soccer, a rise that coincided with his introduction to the United States Men’s National Team. Manager Gregg Berhalter named him to the roster for the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup and deployed him in five matches, including to close out the final.
The Great Old are currently at the bottom of the Belgian First Division A table with two losses. The club is also preparing for a deep run in the UEFA Europa League, upgrading the squad with over a dozen incoming transfers during this window. The campaign starts with a two-leg playoff series against a yet to be determined opponent.
Antwerp manager Ivan Leko has used a 4-4-2 formation this season but is coping with the departure of veterans Simen Jukleröd and Jordan Lukaku. In both matches, 19-year-old Robbe Quirynen and 18-year-old Yasine Ben Hamed played at left back, both out of position. Vines would be an upgrade, able to immediately enter into the lineup.
This move comes at an interesting time with the third round of World Cup qualifying set to begin next month. With his performance at the Gold Cup, Vines established himself as important depth option and should challenge for playing time. Belgium is a relative improvement over MLS, with the league rapidly growing in quality and as a talent market. Provided he can establish himself at his new club, this transfer could be a quite smooth and advantageous entry into Europe for the young American.
Is this a good move for Vines? Let us know in the comment section.