Monday, December 5, 2011

Phun With Photoshop - A "European Vacation" Is Good for the League and the National Team

Starrting: Juan Aguedelo, Brek Shea, Jeff Larentowicz, and Kyle Beckerman
The off-season ritual of heading to Europe for some extra training is no longer just the extra-curriculars of David Beckham and Thierry Henry. Now young Major League Soccer players and U.S. National Team players are getting time with clubs all across the continent.

And this list keeps on growing. Over a dozen young Americans are aboard during the MLS downtime. Some to stay sharp, others for a quick look my European clubs and their scouts. No matter the motives, given the shorter domestic season, a little TnT (training and touches) is better for the quality of the league and the Nats than R&R.

No matter how you feel about the pace and results of the Klinsmann revolution at U.S. Soccer, the Germany-American coach has used his continental contacts to get young players some great European experience, including FC Dallas' Brek Shea with Jurgen's former coaching colleague Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. 

The list of Americans aboard (from

Columbus Crew winger Robbie Rogers - FC Kaiserslautern  
Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman - FC Kaiserslautern 
New York Red Bulls striker Juan Agudelo - VfB Stuttgart
D.C. United defender Perry Kitchen - SC Freiburg
Philadelphia Union midfielder Zach Pfeffer - Hoffenheim 

D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid - West Bromwich Albion
FC Dallas winger Brek Shea - Arsenal
Vancouver Whitecaps forward Omar Salgado - Fulham
Colorado Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz - Bolton
Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury - Bolton 
Chicago Fire goalkeper Sean Johnson - Everton
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath - Everton
Philadelphia Union Amobi Okugo - Freiburg
DC United defender Andy Najar - Tottenham

And just last week New York Red Bulls starlet Juan Agudelo announced he was off to Mersyside for some time with Liverpool FC.

The explosive growth of young players recruitment aboard during MLS' off-season, even if a few players are lost to European contracts, is going to increase exposure for American soccer and further the leagues' international reputation as a laboratory for young talent. 

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"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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