- Wynder speaks to GOAL about Benfica move
- Development of young players key to decision
- Officially joins Portuguese giants in July
WHAT HAPPENED? Benfica will pay $1.2 million to sign the young centerback from Louisville City, sources have confirmed to GOAL, with the USL club also maintaining a sell-on fee. With the move, Wynder has become the first player to be involved in a million-dollar transfer from a USL Championship side. He also becomes the second young star the club has sold on to Europe after Wynder's U.S. under-20 men's national team teammate Jonathan Gomez joined Real Sociedad in 2021.
The move to Portugal gives Wynder a chance to develop at one of the best clubs in the world for young players, with Benfica selling the likes of Joao Felix, Darwin Nunez, Enzo Fernandez, Ruben Dias and Ederson in recent years for massive transfer fees.
WHAT THEY SAID: "They develop young players really well and that suits me perfectly," Wynder told GOAL. "Also, just the way they play, they're a ball-playing team, which fits my playing style very well, too. It's a good area, where the facilities are and I think the coaching staff really did a good job when I was on trial. They're communicating with me and giving me a plan and I think the pieces just kind of put themselves together for me."
He added: "When I first got there [for my trial], I enjoyed it. Then a week into it I called my parents and I was like, 'I could see myself here'. I hadn't made the decision, but I told them that I can see myself here. When I got back to Louisville, I talked it over with my parents, talked with my agent, and then the next step for me was to get my parents over there to see the area and get comfortable because they're going to be coming overseas visiting me. I think there's a lot of pieces but it all worked out."
WHAT'S MORE: The moves comes on the heels of the Under-20 World Cup, where Wynder was a starter for the U.S. on their run to the quarterfinals. The 18-year-old defender also received his first senior call-up earlier this year and could very well feature for the USMNT on the road to the 2026 World Cup.
"This moment right now is when I'm actually starting to look back and say 'Wow, what a year it's been'," Wynder said. "I'm still pinching myself sometimes, not knowing if it's real, but it's been a really busy year and now, looking back, it's amazing. I think I've accomplished a lot but it's just the start to where I want to get to."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Wynder will start with the club's reserve side, Benfica B, but hopes to make an impact on the first team by the end of his first season in the Portuguese league.
"They see me starting with the second team," Wynder said. "Hopefully, I'll integrate well with the team and start playing as soon as possible and doing well. Then, my goal is to get into the first team by the end of the year, at least training with the first team, because I think that should be my aspiration for this year. Hopefully, in the next year, or within two to three years, I'll be with the first team, starting or making appearances, whatever it is, but those are my goals."
IN TWO PHOTOS:Louisville CityLouisville City
WHAT NEXT? Wynder can officially be registered as a Benfica player starting July 1. On the international level, he was listed on the preliminary USMNT squad for this summer's Gold Cup.
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