5 USMNT Players That Could Succeed Overseas
The U.S. men's national team members at the 2014 FIFA World Cup have made more headlines over the last couple of months.
Defender Matt Besler and winger Graham Zusi signed designated player contracts with Sporting Kansas City, per MLSSoccer.com. These signings will keep the pair at the club through the next World Cup.
The details of the contracts were released by Brian Straus of Sports Illustrated. It signals that the top American stars are willing to stay in MLS long term despite interest from clubs overseas.
Besler, Zusi and others are clearly very talented, as are many others involved with the USMNT.
Current players and past call-ups with the USMNT who also play in MLS will be featured in this slideshow. Those who don't make the cut are those who have already played abroad or are too old to make the jump. Five who could make an impact overseas will be highlighted in this piece.
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Wondolowski was the MLS Golden Boot winner in 2012 with 27 goals. He was a major factor in the San Jose Earthquakes claiming the Supporters' Shield. The 31-year-old is a prototypical poacher that gets into position and capitalizes on most scoring opportunities.
Chelsea defender John Terry recognized Wondolowski's movement off the ball after the 2012 MLS All-Star Game. That's high praise coming from one of the Premier League's best center backs.
Wondolowski has eight goals this season in 14 games, per MLSSoccer.com. The signing of Matias Perez Garcia, an advanced playmaker, should increase that tally.
However, due to Wondolowski's age, he narrowly misses out on the list. If this list was compiled two years ago, he'd definitely be included.
Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders)
When the Seattle Sounders began the second half of their schedule, they were tipped to be the Supporters' Shield winners by virtue of the large lead they had at the top of the table.
However, the Sounders have lost two matches in a row. It's no coincidence that since Chad Marshall has been injured, Seattle has looked shaky.
Marshall has been one of the best defenders in MLS. He's the third-highest rated WhoScored.com player and the best in his position.
The 29-year-old should start earning call-ups from U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann once he's fully fit and the international schedule begins.
When healthy, Marshall could definitely cut it in Europe, but there are a few Americans that are more capable.
Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Rimando became the all-time leader in clean sheets on Saturday with 113. That statistic alone solidifies his status as one of the league's all-time best goalkeepers.
At 35, Rimando has represented his country at the World Cup, participated in the All-Star Game and won two MLS Cups. However, the goalkeeper has only received recognition in the last few years.
His anonymity is unfair because Rimando has terrific reactions, great communication skills and is a leader on the pitch. Due to his advancing age, it wouldn't seem likely for the 35-year-old to make the jump to Europe. If he did, the Real Salt Lake shot-stopper would probably be a backup.
5. Kyle Beckerman
Beckerman has been a stalwart in MLS for over a decade. The Real Salt Lake midfielder is one of the most underrated players in the league's history.
The 32-year-old didn't become a regular with the U.S. men's national team until 2011. Twenty-eight of his 40 caps have come in the last three years, per Soccerway. That has coincided with a Gold Cup win in 2013, followed by an impressive performance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Beckerman's defensive abilities and vision with the ball are impeccable. He's a rarity: a complete, deep-lying midfielder in MLS. The U.S. international averages 64 passes per match, per WhoScored.com, and Beckerman is the centerpiece of RSL's and the USMNT's system.
Beckerman's age may be a disadvantage in Europe, but defensive midfielders can continue to be effective into their late 30s. If he were to play for a club overseas, he would be able to keep up and contribute on both sides of the pitch.
4. Graham Zusi
Graham Zusi was an integral part of Sporting Kansas City's MLS Cup victory in 2013. Zusi scored six goals and recorded eight assists in 31 games, per ESPN FC. He was a constant threat out wide with his pace and crossing abilities.
The 27-year-old is a linchpin for SKC and the U.S. these days. He appeared in all four matches at the World Cup this summer and has continued to dominate with his club, racking up three goals and three assists in 14 appearances.
Zusi would be a good addition for a European side in a league like the Bundesliga, where speed and technique are encouraged. The American international is effective on the counter and a set piece specialist to boot.
If Zusi wants to leave MLS for a club abroad, he should be successful if he gets an opportunity to do so.
3. Omar Gonzalez
Gonzalez has been linked with a few teams abroad, including Mexican side Club America, per SB Nation. However, he's still with the Los Angeles Galaxy and is a crucial player for head coach Bruce Arena.
Gonzalez's loan to Nurnberg of the Bundesliga a couple of years ago was supposed to advance his career, but he sustained a serious injury.
That hasn't slowed down the 25-year-old defender. He was usually a solid center back with the Galaxy, but in his first few games with the U.S. men's national team, he was shaky beside Matt Besler.
As the duo earned more appearances together, the chemistry finally came together in Brazil for the World Cup. Gonzalez was one of the many players at fault for the collapse against Portugal, but he was arguably the best American versus Germany and Belgium.
Gonzalez's height is his best asset. He's strong in the air, his awareness is usually on point and he very rarely accumulates cards. With those attributes, the Galaxy center back would be a formidable success in Europe.
2. Matt Besler
The U.S. has always produced terrific center backs. Many of them have been stalwarts in MLS and for the national team. Sporting Kansas City's Matt Besler is another one of the many talented American defenders that has the abilities to thrive in Europe.
Besler, 27, has been a Kansas City player since he began his career. During that time, he's honed his game to become arguably the most important player in Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. squad.
The center back's World Cup performance was so impressive that Sunderland and Fulham were reportedly interested in signing Besler.
In the end, Besler opted to sign an extension with Kansas City. It was a massive signing given that the MLS side has one of their best players under contract during his prime years.
Besler is a ball-winning, aerially strong defender that can play with the ball at his feet. His leadership qualities have been noticed by SKC head coach Peter Vermes. He was named captain prior to this season, and the 27-year-old possesses every attribute wanted by most European sides.
1. DeAndre Yedlin
DeAndre Yedlin has been one of the most in-demand American players since the conclusion of the World Cup. Despite playing just 82 minutes in three appearances off the bench, per WhoScored.com, the Seattle Sounders full-back was immediately linked with a move to Roma, per SB Nation.
Despite those reports claiming that the deal was done, now it seems as if Yedlin is days away from sealing a transfer to Tottenham, per Liviu Bird of Sports Illustrated.
The quality is there. Yedlin is an extremely quick, technical player who can cross and help in the buildup play. As a winger, the 21-year-old would be lethal, and there's still lots of potential to hone those traits and others.
However, the Sounders homegrown product plays as a full-back for his club and has shown some defensive lapses in games. Yedlin often strays forward but fails to track back, leaving the defense exposed.
On the other hand, a lot of young full-backs are guilty of being naive with their positioning. That can be corrected with coaching, and Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is the ideal man for that task. If Yedlin improves in that area, he'll be a threat for any European back line.