5 MLS Players Who Should Be Looking for European Moves in January
With four teams left in the MLS Cup playoffs, many clubs in the league are now focusing on their offseason strategies.
January is the preferred time to move for players in the league since they will be on two-months rest and can jump right into the European season to help a club in need.
We already know DeAndre Yedlin will be heading to Tottenham once the season is over. But we could see a few other stars of the league test their skills overseas as well.
A reminder here that a few of these players have not been linked with moves to Europe. But they do have the potential to move overseas because of the skill they have shown throughout the 2014 season.
Here is a look at five players who should give Europe a look during the January window.
An argument can be made that Bill Hamid was the best goalkeeper in MLS this season. Although, Nick Rimando may have a word or two with you about that.
The 23-year-old D.C. United keeper eclipsed 100 appearances with the Black and Red in his fourth year as the club's first-choice player in between the pipes. If it wasn't for Rimando, Hamid may have earned a call to Brazil as the third keeper on the United States roster at the World Cup.
In 30 starts this season, Hamid made a career-high 110 saves and earned 14 wins. Those numbers do not go unnoticed, as he should garner a bit of interest from overseas.
If he does make the leap to European football, Hamid has a chance to continue the legacy of strong American goalkeeping on the continent set by the likes of Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.
With dangerous pace and scoring instincts, it may not be long until Fabian Castillo leaves FC Dallas for a European club.
The 22-year-old Colombian was dynamic on the wing this season with 10 goals and four assists in 27 games. Few defenders in the league can keep up with his pace, which is why he is such an intriguing prospect.
He still has room to develop into a complete player, as his finishing skills can be lacking on occasion. But there is no doubt he could help a club in need of a speedy winger.
Although his statistics show he wasn't too consistent, Castillo proved during a four-game stretch in August just how deadly a finisher he can be by scoring four goals in three games. In the two matches he didn't score in the month of August, he recorded a total of eight shots.
Joao Plata is another intriguing South American prospect who lit up the scoreboard during the 2014 regular season.
The shifty Ecuadorian scored 13 goals and had six assists in 26 matches. Thanks to his terrific form in front of goal, he earned his first call-up to the Ecuador national team in September.
We will be hearing more from Plata in the coming years, but it could be just a matter of time before a bigger club swoops in and steals him from Real Salt Lake.
The one thing going against Plata is his height, as he stands at 5'2". Some clubs may be turned off by that feature, but he has proved in MLS that he can use that to his advantage.
At 21, Wil Trapp still has room to improve his game as a defensive midfielder, which is scary given how good he was in 2014 for Columbus.
As a holding midfielder for Gregg Berhalter's side, Trapp dictated the pace of most matches, including the Crew's 3-1 win at New York on October 19. After the match, Thierry Henry handed Trapp a ton of praise for his control of the game.
Many see Trapp as one of the future stars of the United States men's national team, but he has not broken through into the senior team just yet.
A move to Europe would catch the eye of Jurgen Klinsmann. And it would give Trapp a good litmus test of where his skill set stands matched up to the best players in the world.
While staying in MLS to hone his skills is accepted nowadays, one has to think the 21-year-old will test himself overseas at some point.
While the four other players on this list have not stated their intentions to move overseas in the offseason, Amobi Okugo has.
The 23-year-old Philadelphia Union player is out of contract, and he could very well end up in Europe during the January window.
The UCLA product has already made more than 100 starts for Philadelphia at center-back and defensive midfield. His preferred position is as a holding midfielder, but he has impressed as a defender in the past as well.
Okugo told MLSSoccer.com that he is weighing his options, but you get the sense Okugo is ready to take a leap across the pond.
Losing a player like Okugo would be a big blow to the Union, who will face a steep fight from the bright lights of Europe to keep him at PPL Park for a few more years.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.