A few days ago a piece I wrote was posted on Italian site gianlucadimarzio.com. It was a list of MLS players likely to make the move to play for a European club.
The players included are Fabian Castillo, Omar Gonzalez, Sebastian Lletget, Gyasi Zardes, Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez, Matt Miazga, Luis Gil, Erik Palmer-Brown and Sebastian Giovinco. That’s a solid group of young MLS standouts. Click the link to see what I had to say about that group.
There are plenty of other players in the league who are capable and likely to move abroad, including at least one on the Chicago Fire. Let’s take a look at some others who could make the jump.
To start off Wil Trapp is the first name that comes to mind. Someone responded to the original post mentioning that he should be included, and that’s probably right. The Columbus Crew defensive midfielder is one of the top young emerging American stars. He’s great with distribution, playing as a deep lying playmaker. That type of player is a rare breed in the American player pool, which will make him valuable to the national team sooner rather than later. He has a similar skill set to Michael Bradley, albeit much less refined at the moment. Trapp is a homegrown player, who even stayed in Ohio for college when he went to Akron. He was a key player in the recent Olympic qualifying tournament. Then there’s Brian Sciaretta saying Trapp is obtaining a Green passport. For those familiar with the trials and tribulations Americans have had in trying to play in Europe (recently see the Juan Agudelo saga), getting an EU passport makes Trapp eligible to count as an EU player for clubs which have restrictions on foreign players. That makes his move abroad far more likely.
Another name I’ve been contemplating is one the locals will have some extra interest in. Could David Accam go back to Europe? I’d be surprised if the Fire standout moves this offseason, but maybe in another year or two he could head for greener pastures. The 25-year-old Ghanaian international has been the Fire’s best player in an otherwise awful season. He leads the team with 10 goals and has two assists as well in just 23 matches. The speedy winger is difficult to defend and already has European experience having played three seasons in Sweden. He also has some history in the regional amateur leagues in England just before his pro career kicked off. As a Fire fan, I hope he stays in Chicago for years to come, but if he plays like he did in 2015 for another year or two and stays healthy enough to play a full season, European teams will have interest.
Another non-American MLS standout, Cyle Larin, is building up a strong resume for Europe as well. Like with Accam, it might not be an imminent move, but the talent is there. The Orlando City forward is running away with the Rookie of the Year award having scored 17 goals in 26 matches. The Canadian spent two years at UConn before being taken with the first pick in the 2015 draft by the expansion Lions. At just 20 years old, Larin already has 12 caps and three goals for Canada. He’s a big, physical striker with all the tools to be a lethal MLS forward. However, his upside might be much higher than that. If he builds on his strong rookie season, Larin will be coveted by European teams.
Ethan Finlay has also been a breakout MLS star this season, a teammate of Trapp’s on the Columbus Crew. U.S. national team fans have started to call for Finlay to get a cap with the senior team after he has scored 10 goals and set up 13 more in 33 starts. The 25-year-old winger is, also like Trapp, playing a position of need in the player pool. Wingers have been hard to come by lately and Finlay is having a great season while playing on the wing for the Crew. After two years being used mostly as a sub, Finlay had 11 goals and seven assists last season. Following up and improving upon that effort this season he skyrocketed his stock. He might need to break through with the national team before significant European interest comes, but he’s certainly proven his talent in the past two MLS seasons.
There are certainly others who could make the jump. Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United defender), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas playmaking midfielder), Leo Stolz (German-born, Hermann Trophy-winning, New York Red Bulls rookie midfielder) and Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers striker) are all 24 years old and talented enough to move abroad.
In the next couple years it will be interesting to see which of these players do in fact find a new league to call home.
Filed under: MLS