Closing transfer window could have impact on Americans Abroad
The transfer wheels are turning a bit faster as the European window comes closer and closer to being slammed shut.
The series of moves overseas are not notable so much for the Americans who are directly involved (although FC Dallas star Brek Shea is reportedly nearing a move to join Stoke City, and New York-born attacker Conor O'Brien completed a move from Sonderjyske to a bigger club in Denmark, joining reigning champion FC Nordsjaelland on Tuesday), but the moves that could potentially affect the playing time of established star Americans have U.S. supporters taking note.
Alabama-born Icelandic striker's Aron Johannsson transfer to AZ Alkmaar on Tuesday should not necessarily be seen as competition for minutes for Jozy Altidore, but more so as reinforcement and precaution for Altidore's potential departure this summer, when European clubs try to cash in on his prolific season. With another goal this past week, Altidore is up to 15 in league play and 19 in all competitions -- which were his totals at the end of last season -- and his place in AZ's lineup should be secure for the foreseeable future.
Johannsson, eligible to play for the United States, has not declared a strong interest nor been called into any camp by Jurgen Klinsmann. He had an in-form campaign going with Danish side AGF Aarhus, scoring 14 goals in 19 games. If anything, he should provide a complement for Altidore that can help him boost his numbers before likely hitting the transfer market hard this summer.
German midfielder Lewis Holtby's accelerated transfer from Schalke to Tottenham has plenty wondering what it could mean for Clint Dempsey's playing time. After all, Holtby can slot into the central role that Dempsey has played behind the striker, and Tottenham did not pay extra to acquire Holtby now and not use him when it could have had him for free this summer instead as was the original plan.
That said, Dempsey's versatility helps his case, but he will have to maintain his top form -- he currently has five goals in five games -- to keep in the good graces of manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Dempsey, who has shown time and again that he thrives off having to prove himself and playing with a chip on his shoulder, proved his worth as a front man for Villas-Boas Sunday in Spurs' FA Cup loss to Leeds United. Given the reins up top in a solo role, which is not necessarily his forte, Dempsey delivered a number of chances on goal and made good on one of them, cashing in on a cross from Gareth Bale for the club's lone goal at Elland Road.
Between Dempsey's ability to play multiple positions, his contributions coming with more regularity, Jermain Defoe's checkered injury history looming and Holtby also being viewed as a versatile player who can play in different spots, Dempsey should be able to overcome Tottenham's big signing.
Between more goals from the in-form Altidore and Dempsey and an assist from Herculez Gomez, the potential starting trio for the U.S. men's national team's Feb. 6 World Cup qualifier in Honduras had a productive past week. Here's how they and the rest of the Americans playing abroad fared (season statistics encompass all competitions):