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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Edu, Agudelo and the new MLS international carrousel

Maurice Edu joined Philadelphia Union in the latest transfer of established US internationals to Major League Soccer. At the same time, forward Juan Agudelo has joined Utrecht of the Eridivisie via a loan from Stoke City. This is a brave new world for MLS and the US national team.

While this sort of transfer business has been going on for a few years now, the sudden upswing in MLS acquisitions (Dempsey, Bradley, Edu) and continuing exits of youngsters (Cameron, Agudelo, Shea) has put the paradigm on overdrive. It's clear now that MLS is becoming a bona fide source of talent for the wealthier leagues in Europe as well as the Liga MX.

While some fans and commentators might find it a "downgrade" to transfer back to MLS after having established a good reputation in Europe, as Dempsey and Bradley did, it suffices to say that this new pattern is here to stay and the athletes are happy with where it puts them in their career, in the scope of the national team, as well as monetarily and in their personal lives.

Some of our younger prospects have made the jump over the Atlantic these past couple of seasons. Juan Agudelo, the once next-Altidore before slumping internationally, finally made a move to Europe and is looking to settle with Utrecht and break back into the forward pool for the national team. His biggest competition will likely be Eddie Johnson and Terrence Boyd, although the latter has yet to show his quality on the senior international level.

Also abroad at the moment and hoping to break back into the national team is Brek Shea (on loan to Barnsley). The midfielder had a rough time with injuries during 2013 and made few appearances for Stoke but his loan might bring his game up enough to re-enter national team contention. Another recent MLS transfer is Geoff Cameron, who has settled well in the Premiership as a bona fide defender/midfielder.

Potential MLS transfers abroad this season, especially with a good World Cup, is the central defense duo Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler. Graham Zusi might just be able to move to Europe as well.

Another player from the current US national team roster that could move to MLS is Jermaine Jones. His time at Schalke 04 is swiftly coming to an end and he has made it clear that he would like to play in the US.

All in all, this international player carrousel is good for the league and for national team players, especially as MLS gains in strength and quality. Our young players moving to Europe at a steady pace is also a credit to development in this country and shows no signs of waning.


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