With both the MLS and European leagues back in action for the 2016 season, several U.S. internationals have returned to their respective domestic clubs. Let’s take a look at how they’re performing and what it means for the United States Soccer Team heading into World Cup qualifying.
Clint Dempsey, Seattle Sounders
Seattle Sounders striker Clint Dempsey was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat this past Friday. Consequently, the U.S. forward was not named in Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup Qualifier roster. It’s not yet clear what this surprise diagnosis means for the star’s future; he may be fine. What we do know, however, is that the U.S.’ leading goal scorer will miss at least two world cup qualifying games. Fellow Seattle Sounder Jordan Morris may very well be Dempsey’s immediate replacement not only for the Sounders, but also the Men’s National Team, as the former Stanford forward has been called up by Jurgen Klinsmann.
Bobby Wood, Hamburger BSV
Having scored 17 goals last campaign with Bundesliga 2 side Union Berlin, striker Bobby Wood secured a transfer to Hamburger BSV in Germany’s top division. This Saturday, against Ingolstadt, Bobby Wood scored on his Bundesliga debut. The Hawaiian born talisman showed great pace with his goal – the only one on the day for Hamburg. The score ended in a 1-1 draw, but there were still plenty of positives from Wood’s performance. If he can keep it up, Wood may eventually challenge Dempsey for the title of best U.S. striker.
Julian Green, F.C. Bayern Munich
Then-teenager Julian Green was the talk of the country two years ago, having been selected ahead of Landon Donovan in the 2014 World Cup squad. Since then, Green has seen his U.S. stock drop, as the 21 year old has yet to achieve a senior cap with club Bayern Munich. This preseason, however, in front of thousands of Americans in the International Champions Cup, Green flourished. Against Inter Milan, the German-American scored a hat trick in the first 35 minutes of the match! New Bayern manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that Green will get some time this season, although it remains to be seen how much exactly.
Michael Bradley, Toronto F.C.
Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley recently returned from a knee injury sustained during the Copa América Centenario, specifically the third place game against Colombia. Since returning on August 6, Bradley has played in five games – three of which resulted in a win. During that time, the engine-like midfielder has registered three assists – most to Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco. Michael Bradley didn’t have a great Copa América, but it doesn’t seem to have affected his domestic play, as Toronto F.C. are currently first in the Eastern Conference with 48 points.
Jermaine Jones, Colorado Rapids
Jermaine Jones, unlike fellow midfielder Michael Bradley, had an exceptional Copa América campaign, even scoring a goal against Costa Rica in the group stage. Since returning from the Copa América, however, Jones has only appeared twice for the MLS side Colorado Rapids – once as a substitute and once as a starter. Jones has been nursing a knee injury for the better part of two months. Now 34 years of age and seemingly injury prone, Jones’ time as a U.S. regular may be waning. However, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has called up Jones for the World Cup qualifying matches. Hopefully the German-born midfielder will be healthy in time for their October 7 date with Cuba.
Alejandro Bedoya, Philadelphia Union
One of many MLS inclusions to Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup squad, Alejandro Bedoya is still adapting to the play style of the MLS. For the last three seasons Alejandro Bedoya has played for Ligue 1 side F.C. Nantes, scoring 11 goals in 87 appearances. This summer, after publicly expressing an interest to play in the MLS, Bedoya transferred to the Philadelphia Union. Bedoya came into Philadelphia as an immediate starter, and although the attacking midfielder has not yet recorded any scoring stats, his presence is still helping the playoff contending side.
Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic has been at the center of several transfer rumors the past few days. The U.S.’ brightest young star is reportedly a target of Premier League side Liverpool, although it looks as though Thomas Tuchel, manager for Borussia Dortmund, is not likely to sell. The Bundesliga season kicked off this past weekend, and although Pulisic did not play against FSV Mainz 05, the 17 year old was named to the 18-man roster ahead of the game. Pulisic will definitely get play time in the Bundesliga this season, and it’s likely he will get more time than if he were to transfer to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side.
Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach
Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Fabian Johnson might be the United States’ best player not named Clint Dempsey. Johnson experienced a sort of breakout year last season, scoring six goals from a wide midfielder position. A versatile player, Johnson typically plays right back for the United States, but can more than hold his own playing further up the pitch. Against Bayer Leverkusen this past weekend, Fabian Johnson came on as 2nd-half substitute for right mid Ibrahima Traoré. Up 1-0 when Johnson entered the game in the 61st minute, the German-American saw his team give up one goal to go level, eventually taking back the lead in the 85th minute. Borussia Mönchengladbach take on SC Freiburg next in the Bundesliga on September 10.
DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle United
Like Alejandro Bedoya, DeAndre Yedlin was one of few U.S. internationals involved in a summer transfer. Last season, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, Yedlin played for fellow Premier League side Sunderland. When Yedlin arrived in Sunderland, the right back was not quite as polished as his fellow defenders. However, through the guidance of manager Sam Allardyce and overall experience, Yedlin grew to be capable Premier League defender. With no real place for Yedlin on Spurs’ impressive squad, the Lillywhites elected to transfer the 23 year old defender to newly relegated Newcastle United. Yedlin came on as an 88th minute substitute in Newcastle’s win over Brighton on Saturday. As the season progresses, expect Yedlin to see much more game time – perhaps even a starting role by January.
John Anthony Brooks, Hertha BSC
John Anthony Brooks, one of many Americans playing in the German Bundesliga, started this weekend for Hertha BSC against SC Freiburg. Brooks’ side won 2-1 in the season’s first wild finish. Going into extra time, holding onto a 1-0 lead via Vladimir Darida’s goal, SC Freiburg’s Nicolas Höfler would score to draw the game level at 1-1. Moments later, when all seemed lost for Hertha Berliner, Julian Schieber would slot home the game winning goal. Aside from the game tying goal via a corner kick, John Brooks played well, stopping several key attacking tries throughout the match. Hertha BSC’s next match is against Ingolstadt on September 10.
Geoff Cameron, Stoke City
Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron is the only American outfield player currently starting for a Premier League side. Stoke City, typically a mid-table side, find themselves at the bottom of the table in the early stages of the Premier League season. Going up against Everton this past weekend, Stoke City’s attack simply couldn’t get going, as the Blues capitalized on an early penalty and won 1-0. In addition to their anemic offense, Stoke’s defense has not been great either, as The Potters are currently tied with two other teams for most goals conceded thus far in the Premier League. Geoff Cameron is obviously not entirely to blame for Stoke’s troubles, but the U.S. international will have to step it up if Stoke is to challenge for a Europa League spot this season.
Tim Howard, Colorado Rapids
Tim Howard, now 37 years of age, recently transferred to MLS side Colorado Rapids after 13 year stint in the Premier League. In Howard’s nine starts with the Rapids, the veteran goalkeeper has stopped 42 shots while conceding 11 goals. Howard currently has a 74% save percentage in his nine starts – good for fifth in the league among active starters. Howard may not be the #1 U.S. goalkeeper any longer, but he still has the skills necessary to be a reliable backup and mentor to future U.S. keepers.
Brad Guzan, Middlesborough
Last season, playing for Premier League side Aston Villa, Brad Guzan experienced perhaps his worst collective season of his career. Aston Villa, for the first time since the establishment of the Premier League in 1992, was relegated last season after finishing in last place with only 17 points. Guzan, who has too much quality to be playing in the Football League Championship, was transferred to newly promoted side Middlesborough. Guzan, this season, has fared much better, as his Middlesborough squad have yet to lose during this Premier League campaign. With Howard’s recent transfer, Guzan is now the lone American goalkeeper in the Premier League – it’s up to him to continue the tradition of top quality American goalkeeping.