Americans Abroad: Friendly could give U.S. players a chance to shine
With the opening of the European transfer window less than two months away, the United States' friendly against South Africa on Wednesday will be an excellent time for a few Americans stationed abroad to receive some much-needed exposure.
Even though Bob Bradley elected to go with a primarily domestic-based roster of Major League Soccer players whose respective seasons are over, he also selected a few European-based players who haven't seen a whole lot of playing time during their respective 2010-2011 campaigns, most notably goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Dominic Cervi and defenders Jonathan Spector and Gale Agbossoumonde.
Guzan, Cervi and Spector could use the exposure the most. Guzan, forever entrenched behind fellow American Brad Friedel at Aston Villa, probably won't be moving anywhere because of the security blanket he provides manager Gerard Houllier at Villa Park. For Guzan, though, who typically starts only in cup play, another strong showing on the international stage would continue to boost his value should a keeper-needy team come calling with an appealing offer.
Cervi is in a similar boat. The 24-year-old Oklahoma native has made the bench a handful of times as a backup but has yet to feature for Scottish power Celtic this season. He could greatly benefit from a loan for the remainder of the season.
The same can be said for Spector, a fullback who has become an afterthought at West Ham after a dip in form cost him his starting job both there and for the U.S. national team.
Agbossoumonde, who turns 19 on the day of the friendly, is one of the United States' brightest centerback prospects. He was a casualty of bad timing and underfunding at Portugal's Sporting Braga and has been without a team for the first half of the European season, training with Portuguese second-division side G.D. Estoril Praia instead. A strong performance to demonstrate that his skills haven't diminished would help his cause as teams in the top tiers of Europe take stock of their defensive inventory ahead of January's transfer window.
While the outcome of Wednesday's match against South Africa might not mean much in the long or short run, some of the individual performances for the men in red, white and blue most certainly could.
In addition to those four, the other Americans abroad that Bradley selected were Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj and the Scandinavia-based trio of Clarence Goodson, Mikkel Diskerud and Alejandro Bedoya.
As for some of the national team regulars who will not be making the trip to Cape Town, a few turned in banner weeks, led by Bolton's Stuart Holden, who scored his first Premier League goal. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Benny Feilhaber also got on the scoresheet to highlight the week for the Americans playing abroad (season statistics encompass all competitions):