The European transfer window closed with a whimper for American fans hoping to see some of their countrymen make big moves.
While Mexican fans watched Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez complete an improbable move to Real Madrid, capping a very productive transfer window for players from south of the border, the only American to make a move of any significance on Monday was Julian Green, who completed a yearlong loan to Hamburg from Bayern Munich.
Any way you slice it, this was a disappointing window for American players. There was nothing close to a Michael Bradley to Roma, or Clint Dempsey to Tottenham, much less a Tim Howard to Manchester United.
Americans in their prime years were nowhere to be found this window, with Fabian Johnson the only American older than 24 to take a clear step upward in a good European league. Even Johnson’s Borussia Monchengladbach move felt a bit disappointing because it came before the World Cup, which cost him a chance at an even bigger transfer after his impressive showing in Brazil.
The market for Americans in their prime years was a tepid one. Matt Besler showed well in Brazil, but sources tell Goal that interest from Europe was mild at best for the Sporting Kansas City defender, who signed a new MLS deal rather than test the waters overseas.
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Then you had Geoff Cameron, who looked like he might be the American player pool’s best chance for a notable transfer. Italian clubs Fiorentina, Lazio and Sampdoria joined a laundry list of English Premier League clubs that were interested in Cameron. However, none of those teams made a compelling enough offer to convince Stoke City to sell, and eventually most of the teams linked to Cameron looked elsewhere for defensive reinforcements. That left Cameron stuck at Stoke City, where he has lost his starting job and may have missed out on his best chance at a significant transfer.
All was not lost this summer for Americans, or the U.S. national team. Some seeds have been planted that could help rejuvenate the higher end of the U.S. player pool, where a void of star talent is lingering. The good moves that did take place involved younger Americans. Considering the following transfers, all involving players 23 years or younger:
JULIAN GREEN TO HAMBURG
Rather than sitting on the Bayern Munich bench, Green will now join another Bundesliga side and will have a good chance for regular playing time in a top league at the age of 19. That is a significant step up from a player who was limited mostly to matches in the German fourth division a year ago. Now, with a World Cup goal to his name and expectations growing, Green should have the chance to thrive with a Hamburg side that has bolstered its roster this summer.
DEANDRE YEDLIN TO TOTTENHAM
The Seattle Sounders fullback made the most of his World Cup minutes, and yielded a $3.5 million transfer in the process. He will stay in Seattle until the end of the MLS season, and if he secures a work permit between now and January (a process that could involve securing an EU passport via a family relation), Yedlin could be with Tottenham by January. He wouldn’t be expected to start right away, but playing for a good young manager in Mauricio Pochettino should only help his development.
TERRENCE BOYD TO RED BULL LEIPZIG
A bit of a forgotten transfer because of a knee injury that has sidelined Boyd, the German-American striker has joined an ambitious club with its sights set on reaching the Bundesliga by next season. If Boyd can return from his knee injury and establish himself as the club’s go-to striker, he could be a fixture in the German Bundesliga a year from now, when he will still only be 24.
RUBIO RUBIN TO FC UTRECHT
The U.S. youth national team standout didn’t figure to earn much playing time right away when he signed with Dutch side FC Utrecht, but when injured paved the way for him to start in the team’s season opener, his move overseas suddenly looked like a stroke of genius. it is still very early, and the 18-year-old forward has only earned a few starts so far in his pro career, but he has already done enough to earn a full national team call-up.
JOE GYAU TO BORUSSIA DORTMUND II
When Gyau broke through at the end of last season and earned some late-season minutes for Hoffenheim, it looked as though he might be ready to become a fixture there. His late-season success made his sudden move to Borussia Dortmund’s reserve team a surprising one. A closer look at the transfer, which paired him with American David Wagner, manager of Dortmund II, made it easy to understand why the 21-year-old speedster would make the move. If he can thrive under Wagner, and eventually get a chance to play for Jurgen Klopp, this move could be the most important on the list.
These are the moves that will provide some transfer window consolation for U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who can’t be happy about the fact that many of his best older players have moved to MLS rather than pushing on in Europe.
The reality remains that the long-term success of the U.S. team will hinge largely on how the talented crop of young European-based Americans develops. From that standpoint, time will provide the ultimate verdict on whether this summer transfer window was truly a disappointment.