Americans playing in Europe experienced a tremendous amount of success this season, setting records and winning championships. (My piece on the Top 10 Americans Playing in Europe This Season)
However, there were more than a few Americans who saw the opposite side of the coin in the 2012-13 season, struggling for playing time and facing relegation battles.
Here are the rankings for the Bottom 10 Americans Playing in Europe This Season.
Will Packwood did not have one of the “worst” seasons of an American in Europe due to any fault of his own—he was just starting to break into Birmingham’s lineup when he was injured—but the injury he suffered, which included four fractures of his tibia and fibula, is one of the worst a footballer can imagine.
Packwood is now on the mend, but the injury cost him his season and a chance at the U-20 World Cup with the U.S. this summer, and his rehabilitation will likely continue well into next season.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be all that surprising that Brad Friedel, at the incredible age of 41, finally lost his starting position, but his consecutive game streak in the English Premier League of 310 games lasted so long that his absence was palpable.
Friedel’s streak went all the way back to 2004 and, quite impressively, Friedel was still playing at the top of his game when the streak ended. Deadline-day signing and French international Hugo Lloris took Friedel’s spot and never looked back, playing the vast majority (27) of Spurs’ games this season.
Friedel remains Lloris’ backup and is using his extra time to earn his coaching badges.
Clarence Goodson’s fortunes in Europe have taken a dramatic turn over the past two seasons. In the 2010-11 season, Goodson’s Brondby finished third in the Danish Superliga and qualified for Europe. The following season, Goodson was named the team’s captain and started 34 games for the club.
However, the 2012-13 campaign was a rough one, with Goodson losing his captaincy, and Brondby facing bankruptcy and an uncertain future. The club also narrowly avoided relegation this year, and Goodson only started 18 league games, losing his regular spot in Brondby’s lineup.
Eric Lichaj is one of those players that passionate USMNT fans are always advocating for the national team, in large part to his solid performances in the 2011 Gold Cup.
However, Lichaj continues to struggle for playing time with his club, Aston Villa. Despite the fact that Villa’s defense was downright embarrassing for much of this past season, Lichaj could never consistently crack the starting lineup, only earning nine starts.
Making a deadline-day move to Stoke City in the January transfer window, things didn’t go very well for Brek Shea in his first year in England.
Shea only made two substitute appearances for the club, despite the fact that Stoke was desperate for goals as they made their stretch run trying to avoid relegation. He last appeared for the club on March 2.
Maurice Edu played club merry-go-round this season, escaping bankrupted side Rangers for Stoke City in August, and then going on loan to Bursaspor in January.
Edu couldn’t break into the side at Stoke, only appearing once, and while he started brightly in Turkey getting regular starts, he was dropped from Bursaspor’s lineup late in the season, last appearing for the team in April.
For the man who had become a regular for Rangers over the past two seasons, this year was no doubt a disappointment.
At first, Tim Ream’s move to England last year appeared to be a dream come true. He quickly worked his way into the lineup at Bolton after making the move in January of 2012, making 13 starts for the club at the end of the 2011-12 campaign.
However, Bolton were relegated and, worst of all, even though Bolton were now playing a league down, Ream lost his spot in the Wanderers’ lineup, even having one of his performances characterized by the British press as a “nightmare.” In total, Ream made 13 starts this season, the exact number he made in half the time, a league up, the season before.
It’s been a rough couple of years for Charlie Davies, and this year wasn’t much better. After having his contract terminated by Sochaux, Davies signed for Danish-side Randers.
With Randers, Davies has only made three starts, most often being used by the club in late-game cameo substitute appearances.
Remember Frankie Simek?
Coming up through Arsenal’s reserve side, Simek was once thought to be the future of the USMNT backline. While he never made it with Arsenal, Simek did become a regular fixture in the lineup for Sheffield Wednesday in the English Championship for many years. Simek has spent the last few seasons with Carlisle United in League One and, although he still regularly found himself in the lineup, Simek lost his starting position at the end of this season and was released by the languishing club.
Simek recently went on trial with D.C. United. It has been reported that D.C. will not be offering a contract. Simek remains a free agent.
After his move to AC Milan failed, Oguchi Onyewu turned a successful loan stint with FC Twente into a permanent move to Sporting Lisbon for the 2011-12 season. After finding success with Sporting, Onyewu once again decided to try his luck with a major club, signing with Malaga for the 2012-13 season.
That move has been seriously short of a success. Onyewu has only made one league start for the Spanish side this season and seriously hurt any remaining chance he had at working his way back into the national team. One has to respect Onyewu for wanting to test himself at the highest levels of the game, but after so many successful years at Standard Liege in the Belgian League, one wonders if he’s trying to reach a league too far.
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