Fresh off helping the U.S. men's national team win the Concacaf Gold Cup, left back Sam Vines is heading abroad.
Belgium's Royal Antwerp FC announced the signing of the defender from the Colorado Rapids, with Vines agreeing to a three-year pact with the top-flight club. The Athletic initially reported the deal was in the works last month and stated that the fee could be up to $2 million. With Vines being a homegrown player, the Rapids will retain the full transfer fee, per MLS regulations. According to ESPN, Colorado has a replacement lined up, with Palmeiras's Lucas Esteves set to join the club on loan.
Vines, 22, has two goals and four assists in two-plus seasons as a regular in Colorado (including last season's shortened campaign). He scored the game-winning goal early in the U.S.'s Gold Cup-opening victory over Haiti and went on to start the group-closing win over Canada and quarterfinal and semifinal triumphs over Jamaica and Qatar, respectively. He came off the bench in the 65th minute of the final vs. Mexico, replacing George Bello.
Vines is part of a left back depth chart that includes Barcelona's Sergiño Dest (who prefers the right side but has been deployed on the left due to the lack of another clear-cut candidate), Fulham's Antonee Robinson and Bello. Vines becomes the second U.S. defender currently in Belgium, with center back Mark McKenzie featuring for Genk. Matt Miazga spent last season on loan with Anderlecht, but is currently back with parent club Chelsea, at least temporarily. Midfielder Chris Durkin is also in Belgium's top flight, playing for Sint-Truiden, while goalkeeper Ethan Horvath recently left reigning champion Brugge for Nottingham Forest.
Antwerp's season is already underway, and it's gotten off to a rough start, with the club dropping its first two matches. It remains in contention for the Europa League group stage, awaiting the identity of its opponent in the playoff round. It'll be either Omonia Nicosia (the Cypriot club that features former U.S. midfielder Mix Diskerud) or Estonia's Flora. If Antwerp wins, it'll reach the UEL group stage. If it loses, it'll take part in the new Europa Conference League group stage.
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