Two of the remaining dominoes have fallen.
With the Aug. 31 transfer deadline in most of the top leagues around Europe rapidly approaching, it's crunch time for players in need of a change of scenery, and that's no different for the U.S. contingent based abroad. Two such players received their new assignments Friday. Center back Matt Miazga has been loaned out from Chelsea for a fifth time and to a fifth country in six seasons since leaving the New York Red Bulls, joining Deportivo Alavés in La Liga for the season. The club narrowly escaped relegation last season (with its 57 goals conceded tied for third-worst in the league) and began this season with a 4–1 defeat to Real Madrid, so it could use a boost—as could the 26-year-old New Jersey native. With Miles Robinson and Mark McKenzie emerging this summer as viable starters at center back to pair with John Brooks, Miazga, who has effectively squandered an opportunity to etch himself more firmly into the U.S.'s center back rotation throughout the last few years despite his 22 caps, will have to play his way back into contention in yet another unfamiliar setting.
A lesser-experienced U.S. international is also in a similar boat. Owen Otasowie, the 20-year-old midfielder, signed a four-year deal with Club Brugge after securing a transfer from Wolves in the Premier League. Brugge, the reigning Belgian champion and former club of U.S. goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, reportedly spent a modest $4.8 million to sign Otasowie, and for the player, it’s a necessary move given his lack of a pathway to minutes at Wolves. Otasowie was largely bench fodder at best last season, though he was able to earn one U.S. senior cap, in the final minutes of a November 2020 friendly vs. Wales. A second cap (and more beyond that) won't materialize without a more productive club season. This move, at the very least, comes with the potential of participating in the Champions League group stage.
But this general situation is just the kind of place a number of his compatriots find themselves, with a desire to participate in World Cup qualifying—and, in an ideal world, the World Cup itself—offset by an inability to achieve a level of consistency and excellence on a regular basis at the club level.
Beyond Miazga and Otasowie, a number of other U.S. internationals have already secured transfers to clubs abroad this summer. Horvath’s move to Nottingham Forest, Josh Sargent’s transfer to Norwich City and Konrad de la Fuente’s switch to Marseille are the three most notable from a senior national team standpoint. A few others have made the move from MLS to clubs abroad, with Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann joining promoted Serie A side Venezia and Sam Vines heading to Antwerp, where the former Colorado Rapids left back will now be going head-to-head with Otasowie.
They're not the only ones who should have a change of address before the window is shut, though. Here are five other U.S. internationals—almost entirely defenders—who would benefit greatly from a change of scenery before transfer dealings are done for the summer:
Chris Richards, Bayern Munich
Richards, 21, is in the same position a number of young players at elite clubs have found themselves: unlikely to play much with the first team and left to determine whether being surrounded by such top talent and training against it on a daily basis is equally as beneficial as playing regularly at a club that's a notch below. Last winter he went on loan to Hoffenheim for the latter half of the season and secured the playing time he was not getting at Bayern. Even though he has been on the match-day bench for new manager Julian Nagelsmann in the Bundesliga opener and German Super Cup, the regular first-team exposure is not likely to follow. Such is the downside of being part of a behemoth of a club. According to German reports, a full transfer isn't out of the question.
Cameron Carter-Vickers, Tottenham
Like Miazga, the 23-year-old Carter-Vickers has had little chance of carving out a role on his parent club, instead embarking on multiple loans (six in four seasons) with varying degrees of success. The England-born center back, who has eight senior U.S. caps to his name, is into the final year of his contract, which means that if the club wants to recoup something on its investment, then now is the time to sell.
He’s been linked with clubs ranging from Newcastle to Bournemouth (where he spent half of last season on loan) to Celtic, and what's important is that he'll wind up where he's wanted and where he’ll play (he did start in Thursday's Europa Conference League qualifying first-leg defeat to Portugal's Paços de Ferreira, but his season-long outlook for the club is not bright). Otherwise, he’s doomed to miss out on this World Cup cycle entirely as other peers at his position excel.
(UPDATE: An ankle injury suffered in the Europa Conference League may thwart any chance Carter-Vickers has at securing a move. “The doctor is going to do a scan and all these things,” Spurs manager Nuno Espírito Santo said. “It doesn’t look good. This is the worst thing that could happen to us.”)
Erik Palmer-Brown, Manchester City
Like Miazga and Carter-Vickers, Palmer-Brown, 24, is another young center back nomad. He has never once played for parent club Manchester City and instead spent time on loan in Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria since leaving Sporting Kansas City in 2018. He did achieve a semblance of stability the last two seasons with Austria Vienna, and he had been reportedly earmarked for a move to join the two other Americans at promoted Serie A side Venezia, but nothing has materialized just yet. He’s also reportedly been connected with Ligue 1’s Troyes, which is run by Man City owner City Football Group.
Reggie Cannon, Boavista
Cannon's time at Boavista started out so promisingly, with the right back seamlessly transitioning from FC Dallas to the Portuguese top flight and becoming a lineup staple. Then the club went through a relegation fight—ultimately surviving—and financial woes, and it’s left Cannon in a bit of limbo, with the player not yet being part of any of the club's matches yet this season. With 22 caps and two Concacaf trophies to his name after being part of both summer triumphs, the 23-year-old is primed for a significant role with the U.S. going forward, but to ensure that trajectory remains pointed in the right direction, the club minutes need to be there. Nottingham Forest has reportedly bid for his services.
Matthew Hoppe, Schalke
Hoppe was among the biggest individual winners at the Gold Cup this summer for the U.S., and parlaying that into a transfer elsewhere seems to be top of the mind. He scored six goals (five in a three-game span over the winter) to emerge as one of Schalke’s lone bright spots in a season during which it was relegated. Now the options are either stick it out in the 2. Bundesliga with a pared-down squad or seek another home and depart the club that gave him his big shot and breakthrough after an unorthodox road to a top European league.
Hoppe brought an element of fire and flare to the U.S. at the Gold Cup, and it would be beneficial for the 20-year-old forward if he could cultivate that in a top-flight environment. He’s been linked with a handful of Premier League clubs and has evidently won the adoration of U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter.
“He’s got a very interesting personality,” Berhalter said on U.S. Soccer’s podcast this week. “A lot of confidence, a lot of self-belief. I think that takes him a long way.”
Applying that at a different club could help him carve out a more significant role with the U.S. during World Cup qualifying. He proved adept as a winger, despite typically playing a more central role, and that additional versatility could make him a more attractive asset, should Schalke have its valuation met.
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