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Young U.S. Players Find Transfer Deadline Day Relief

A number of players vying for time with the U.S. men's national team got their club situations clarified before the window shut for the summer.

The vast majority of the U.S. men's national team's core players have their club situations settled, by and large. Save for Weston McKennie, whose future at Juventus was made clear by manager Max Allegri over the weekend despite a late round of reports that he could be headed to the Premier League after one season in Serie A, there's not much uncertainty surrounding the squad's nucleus as it preps for World Cup qualifying.

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But qualifying is going to take perhaps a deeper pool of players than ever before due to its compressed nature and the unpredictability brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between the coronavirus's spread and its impact on travel restrictions, managers can plan only as best as they can while anticipating some personnel curveballs along the way. U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter took that into account when using two squads with little overlap for the Concacaf Nations League final four and Gold Cup this summer. But the needs could go even beyond the players who suited up for the U.S. over the last couple of months, which made tying up any loose club ends before the transfer window shut imperative for a number of players. 

It wound up being a relatively busy day, then, for U.S. international players abroad. Here's who secured moves that altered their club outlooks for the season, and perhaps beyond:

Erik Palmer-Brown, Matthew Hoppe and Chris Richards are on the move

Matthew Hoppe to Mallorca (full transfer)

Hoppe, 20, secured a permanent move from Schalke and signed a four-year deal with Mallorca, joining Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Yunus Musah (Valencia) and Matt Miazga (a recent loanee to Alavés) in La Liga. It's a unique move from an American perspective for the forward, given the club's ownership. It's spearheaded by Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, and his group also includes former U.S. international Stu Holden and current Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash. For Hoppe, it gets him into a top-flight league following Schalke's relegation, which should allow him to build on the positive personal momentum he generated at the Gold Cup. Mallorca was promoted back to La Liga after last season, so there's always the danger of Hoppe, who scored six goals for Schalke last season, finding himself in a relegation scrap yet again (his move is much like Josh Sargent's, with the other U.S. forward trading relegated Werder Bremen for promoted Norwich City), but the club is off to a 2-0-1 start to the season.

Chris Richards to Hoffenheim (loan)

Richards goes back to Hoffenheim, where he played regularly while on loan last season, after extending his contract with Bayern through the 2024–2025 season. It's encouraging for him on a couple of fronts, given the pathway to regular Bundesliga minutes he'll receive now and the vote of confidence Bayern has made in him for the future. The 21-year-old Alabama native and former FC Dallas academy product should have every opportunity to play his way back into the U.S. national team picture over the next six months and beyond, which is a valuable commodity for manager Gregg Berhalter considering the rotating depth chart beyond John Brooks at center back.

“We’re very pleased with how Chris Richards has developed with us, which is why we've extended his contract. Chris is a young player who will now gain further Bundesliga experience at Hoffenheim, which is exactly what he needs,” Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić said in a statement.

Erik Palmer-Brown to Troyes (loan)

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Another center back a bit lower down on that depth chart is the 24-year-old Palmer-Brown, who was sent on loan from Manchester City (where he has never played) to another City Football Group club in Troyes. There had been reports that Palmer-Brown, who has two senior USMNT caps but has been a staple at the youth level, was going to be joining the U.S. crew being assembled at Venezia (which is under American ownership), but that never materialized. 

Instead, after two seasons on loan in Austria's top flight at Austria Vienna, Palmer-Brown is off to Ligue 1, which now comes with the opportunity to face Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar a couple of times a season (Troyes, however, hosted PSG in its season opener, so only a trip to Parc des Princes remains later for Palmer-Brown in the 2021–22 campaign).

Nicholas Gioacchini to Montpellier (loan) 

The contingent of U.S. internationals in Ligue 1 grows even more with the 21-year-old Gioacchini's move from Caen in Ligue 2 to Montpellier on a loan with a reported and modest $2.4 million option to buy. He'll join Konrad de la Fuente (Marseille), Tim Weah (Lille) and Palmer-Brown after getting the bump up on loan for the season. Gioacchini has proven to be a valuable player off the bench in his brief time with the U.S., and a making a leap in club competition can only be seen positively by Berhalter and his staff, provided the first-team minutes are there. Given that Montpellier offloaded two of its top strikers and brought in Valère Germain and Gioacchini as replacements, they should be.

Cameron Carter-Vickers to Celtic (loan)

Carter-Vickers recently suffered an ankle injury playing for Tottenham in the UEFA Europa Conference League play-in round, but that didn't prevent the 23-year-old center back from securing a late deadline day move. It marks the seventh club (in addition to parent club Spurs) that he'll have played for since 2017, following a slew of loans down the English pyramid. This time, he heads to Scotland to play for a domestic powerhouse that’s looking to reclaim superiority from Rangers. Celtic was also drawn into a difficult Europa League group vs. Real Betis, Bayer Leverkusen and Ferencváros, which provides more opportunities for some solid competition. Carter-Vickers is out of contract at the end of the season, so if he impresses, he could find himself a new, stable home.

Jack de Vries to Venezia (loan)

This one is on the periphery of the radar given that de Vries, a 19-year-old Philadelphia Union homegrown midfielder who has sat out much of the MLS season after suffering a preseason concussion, will play for Venezia's Primavera (U-19) side and not the senior side that features U.S. midfielders Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann

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