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):
Geoff Cameron, D/M, Stoke City -- Not in the 18 for Stoke City's 1-0 loss to Manchester City in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. According to Stoke City's website, Cameron was held out with a minor hamstring issue, but he was expected to feature in Tuesday's league match against Wigan Athletic. SEASON: 24 games, 23 starts
Cody Cropper, GK, Southampton -- Southampton did not have a match this past week. SEASON: 0 games
Clint Dempsey, M/F, Tottenham -- Started, played 90 minutes and scored a goal in Tottenham's 2-1 loss to Leeds United in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday. Dempsey got his head to a cross from Gareth Bale, connecting for a looping header that sliced Tottenham's deficit in half in the 58th minute. It was his fifth goal in as many games across all competitions. SEASON: 28 games, 22 starts, 8 goals
Brad Friedel, GK, Tottenham -- Started, played 90 minutes and made five saves in Tottenham's 2-1 loss to Leeds United in the fourth round of the FA Cup. SEASON: 13 games, 13 starts, 19 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet
Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa -- In the 18, did not play in Villa's 2-1 win over Bradford City in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal on Tuesday. Villa was eliminated on a 4-3 aggregate and fell short of reaching the final at Wembley Stadium. Guzan was also in the 18 but did not play in Villa's 2-1 loss to Millwall in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Friday. SEASON: 22 games, 22 starts, 40 goals allowed, 6 clean sheets
Tim Howard, GK, Everton -- Started, played 90 minutes and made five saves in Everton's 2-1 win over Bolton in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. SEASON: 25 games, 25 starts, 27 goals allowed, 4 clean sheets
Eric Lichaj, D, Aston Villa -- In the 18, did not play in Villa's 2-1 win over Bradford City in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal. Lichaj started and played 90 minutes in Villa's 2-1 loss to Millwall in the fourth round of the FA Cup. SEASON: 21 games, 13 starts
Conor Doyle, F, Derby County -- In the 18, did not play in Derby County's 3-0 loss to Blackburn in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. SEASON: 3 games, 1 start
Stuart Holden, M, Bolton -- In the 18, came on as an 80th-minute substitute in Bolton's 2-1 loss to Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. SEASON: 2 games
Tim Ream, D, Bolton -- Started, played 90 minutes in Bolton's 2-1 loss to Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup. SEASON: 15 games, 13 starts
Jonathan Spector, D/M, Birmingham City -- Not in the 18 for Birmingham's 2-1 win over Burnley on Saturday. SEASON: 23 games, 19 starts, 1 goal
Zak Whitbread, D, Leicester City -- Not in the 18 for Leicester City's 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. The two sides will play a replay to determine which one advances to the next round. SEASON: 15 games, 14 starts, 1 goal
Mike Grella, F, Scunthorpe United -- In the 18, came on as a 90th-minute substitute in Scunthorpe's 1-1 draw with Carlisle United on Saturday. SEASON: 18 games, 11 starts, 2 goals
Frank Simek, D, Carlisle United -- Started, played 90 minutes in Carlisle's 1-1 draw with Scunthorpe United on Saturday. SEASON: 28 games, 26 starts
Timmy Chandler, D, FC Nurnberg -- Started, played 90 minutes in Nurnberg's 3-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund on Friday. SEASON: 20 games, 20 starts, 1 goal
Steve Cherundolo, D, Hannover 96 -- Not in the 18 for Hannover's 2-1 win over Wolfsburg on Saturday. SEASON: 28 games, 27 starts
Fabian Johnson, D, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim -- Not in the 18 for Hoffenheim's 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. SEASON: 18 games, 18 starts, 3 goals
Jermaine Jones, M, FC Schalke 04 - Not in the 18 for Schalke's 0-0 draw with FC Augsburg on Saturday. SEASON: 21 games, 18 starts, 1 goal
Michael Parkhurst, D, FC Augsburg -- In the 18, did not play in Augsburg's 0-0 draw with Schalke on Saturday. SEASON: 21 games, 20 starts, 2 goals (all with FC Nordsjaelland)
Danny Williams, D/M, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim -- In the 18, did not play in Hoffenheim's 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt. SEASON: 14 games, 12 starts, 1 goal
Michael Bradley, M, AS Roma -- Started, played 90 minutes in Roma's 2-1 win over Inter Milan in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semifinal Wednesday. Bradley also started and played 90 minutes in a 3-3 draw with Bologna in league play Sunday. SEASON: 19 games, 18 starts, 1 goal
Oguchi Onyewu, D, Malaga -- In the 18, did not play in Malaga's 4-2 loss to Barcelona in the second of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal tie Thursday. Malaga was eliminated on a 6-4 aggregate. Onyewu was not in the 18 for a 3-2 win over Mallorca in league play Sunday. The club's acquisition of Uruguayan center back Diego Lugano on loan from Paris Saint-Germain does not bode well for Onyewu's hopes of earning more playing time. SEASON: 8 games, 7 starts, 2 goals
Carlos Bocanegra, D, Racing Santander -- Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Racing Santander's 3-1 loss to Cordoba on Saturday. SEASON: 18 games, 18 starts (7 games, 7 starts with Rangers)
Jozy Altidore, F, AZ Alkmaar -- Started, played 90 minutes and scored a goal in AZ's 4-1 victory over VVV Venlo on Friday. Altidore held his run to stay onside, got in behind two defenders to reach a long pass and carried toward the top of the area before slotting a right-footed shot by the goalkeeper to make the score 3-1. Altidore's 15 non-penalty goals are the most in the Eredivisie, and he trails Vitesse's Wilfried Bony by one in the race for the league's Golden Boot. SEASON: 26 games, 26 starts, 19 goals
Sacha Kljestan, M, RSC Anderlecht -- Started, played 90 minutes in Anderlecht's 2-0 win over Lokeren on Saturday. The win was Anderlecht's 11th straight in league play, a streak dating back to Oct. 30. SEASON: 32 games, 25 starts, 2 goals
Maurice Edu, M, Bursaspor -- Started, played 90 minutes in Bursaspor's 3-0 loss to Fenerbahce in the Turkish Cup on Wednesday. Edu also started and played 90 minutes in Bursaspor's 4-1 loss to Istanbul BB in league play Saturday. SEASON: 4 games, 2 starts (1 game with Stoke City)
Caleb Patterson-Sewell, GK, Vitoria Setubal -- In the 18, did not play in Vitoria Setubal's 3-0 loss to Porto on Wednesday and in Vitoria Setubal's 2-0 loss to Nacional da Madeira on Sunday. SEASON: 5 games, 5 starts, 12 goals allowed, 1 clean sheet
Tony Taylor, F, Estoril Praia -- Not in the 18 for Estoril's 3-3 draw with Olhanense on Sunday. SEASON: 9 games, 3 starts
DaMarcus Beasley, M, Puebla -- Started, played 90 minutes and assisted on a goal in Puebla's 4-1 win over Celaya in the Copa MX on Wednesday. Beasley also started and played the first half of a 4-0 loss to Cruz Azul in league play Saturday. SEASON: 5 games, 4 starts
Jonathan Bornstein, D, Tigres UANL - Not in the 18 for Tigres' 2-0 win over Queretaro on Saturday. SEASON: 0 games
Edgar Castillo, D, Tijuana -- Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Tijuana's 2-0 win over Pachuca on Saturday. The win improved defending Apertura champion Tijuana to 4-0-0, one of two teams (Tigres UANL being the other) with perfect marks to start the Clausura campaign. SEASON: 4 games, 4 starts
Joe Corona, M, Tijuana -- Started, played the first half of Tijuana's 2-0 win over Pachuca. SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts
Michael Orozco Fiscal, D, Puebla -- Not in the 18 for Puebla's 4-1 win over Celaya in the Copa MX or a 4-0 loss to Cruz Azul in league play. SEASON: 4 games, 4 starts
Greg Garza, D/M, Tijuana -- Not in the 18 for Tijuana's 2-0 win over Pachuca. SEASON: 0 games
Herculez Gomez, F, Santos Laguna -- Started, played 84 minutes and assisted on the second goal of Santos Laguna's 2-0 win over Leon on Friday. Gomez headed a ball toward Oribe Peralta, who scored the insurance goal for Santos, SEASON: 4 games, 4 starts, 1 goal
Benji Joya, M, Santos Laguna -- Not in the 18 for Santos Laguna's 2-0 win over Leon. SEASON: 0 games
Jose Torres, M, Tigres UANL -- Started, played 70 minutes and picked up a yellow card in Tigres' 2-0 win over Queretaro. SEASON: 3 games, 3 starts