Five American MLS Prodigies Who Will Make It Big in Europe
Landon Donovan is a MLS player who has proved his ability in Europe.
There is no doubting that Major League Soccer's standard of football has sharply risen over the last five years.
With this evolution of the league, the USA has produced some exciting soccer prospects who are already good enough to shine in the big leagues of Europe.
And with MLS's new Youth Designated Player rules coming into place, there will be more young naturalized football talent coming from the land of the free.
Here I will tip five fledgling American prospects who are set to emulate USA football hero Landon Donovan and impress on the biggest stages of the beautiful game.
Chris Pontius (DC United)
Pontius tormenting the Sporting KC defense.
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The seventh pick of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Chris Pontius has really come into his own in recent times.
The Californian, who is equally adept playing as an advanced midfielder or striker, started 24 games for DC United in the 2011 MLS season.
Unfortunately for Pontius, his season was cut short after becoming the victim of a ferocious tackle from Chivas USA's David Junior Lopez. This horrific tackle subsequently broke Pontius' leg.
He is 24-years-old, but with only three professional seasons under his belt, he is still somewhat of a raw talent.
Pontius has many tools in his arsenal, including tough tackling, strength, tenacity and a knack for being at the right place at the right time.
In his 24 MLS matches this year, Pontius netted seven times from his wide midfield berth.
Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls)
Agudelo has impressed many this season.
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The Colombian-born USA full international has stood out in a New York Red Bulls team filled with attacking talent.
The 18-year-old forward has impressed in the Red Bulls' 2011 MLS campaign, netting six goals in 22 games for his team, only 12 of which were starting appearances for his side.
Agudelo didn't go through the normal college soccer system in America, but is a product of the New Jersey-based team's youth academy, a sign of things to come in USA football.
Agudelo has already glittered on the worldwide stage playing for the USA, scoring goals against giants Argentina and World Cup 2010 hosts South Africa.
His goal against Argentina made Agudelo the youngest goalscorer for the USA in history.
Agudelo has pace to burn and has a good eye for an assist, along with his natural sense for scoring goals. Thierry Henry is the perfect role model to have play along side this prospect.
Omar Salgado (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Salgado has switched allegiances from Mexico to the USA in recent times.
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The youngest player featured on this list, Omar Salgado has all the physical attributes necessary to become a top striker some day—and he's only just turned 18.
The Texas-born star is 6'4'', quick and has tidy control for a big striker.
Salgado started his career in the youth ranks of Mexican giants Chivas Guadalajara. He originally played youth international football, up to U-20 level, for the Mexicans. However, he opted to play for the USA instead—much to the fury of the Mexican fans.
Salgado was the first overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft for the fledgling MLS expansion franchise Vancouver Whitecaps.
It's been a slow season for Salgado, only posting one goal in five starts (13 appearances overall), but no one doubts the ability that this young star possesses.
European clubs have already registered interest in Salgado, as he has already trained with Everton's first team in England.
Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
Gonzalez has been a rock at the back for LA Galaxy this season.
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The second of our prospects named Omar, Gonzalez is a 22-year-old central defender has impressed since being selected as the third overall pick in the much-vaunted 2009 MLS SuperDraft.
Gonzalez has made an impressive 79 appearances since the day he moved to the Galaxy, netting a formidable five goals. Gonzalez shone so much in his debut MLS season, he was named 2009 Rookie of the Year.
At 6'5'', Gonzalez's physical prowess allows him to dominate any aerial threat thrown his way, in a league which features plenty of direct football. Also, don't let his height fool you. This is a ball-playing defender which compliments his natural aerial ability.
Gonzalez has made two appearances for the USA national team, including one sterling performance against the feared Brazilian national team.
Gonzalez has been hotly-tipped to be one of USA's starting defenders should they reach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as well as being a dead cert to one day excel in Europe.
Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
Shea has wowed MLS audiences all season.
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A second overall pick at the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, 21-year-old Brek Shea's importance to an FC Dallas team hell-bent on gaining a playoff berth knows no bounds.
Shea is a 6'3'' winger. To some, this may seem slightly odd. However, Shea plays on the wing in a similar style to Cristiano Ronaldo, cutting in and almost playing as a secondary striker.
The Texan is tall, strong and has pace that many players over six feet would dream to have. Shea also happens to have boundless energy. Something any successful winger should have is a gas tank that never nears empty.
In his breakout 2011 MLS season, Shea has netted 10 goals in 26 appearances from out wide for FC Dallas.
His impressive performances for his club led former USA coach Bob Bradley to call Shea up to make his international debut against Colombia.
This year, Shea helped spare the USA's blushes, assisting Robbie Rogers' equalizing goal against fierce rivals Mexico in a 1-1 draw.