Emerson Hyndman arrived at Fulham in 2011 riding the great crest of the American-English soccer wave. To say nothing of the American youth boots already on the ground in Albion, the seismic NBC Premier League deal was only a year off, an agreement that gave Americans readier access to every one of the league’s games than even the average Englishman.
Hyndman’s signing was quiet, far more so than the relative trumpets that heralded Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey’s signatures for the Cottager senior team. It was a speculative deal in more than a few ways, Hyndman latching on with Fulham’s youth apparatus to see if he had the stern stuff required for the Premier League’s rocky paces.
At the time, five years ago, the English youth ladder still looked like the grand final destination for America’s best and brightest bristling to test themselves abroad. It was England, after all. The culture, the language, the prestige-limned clubs — that particular transition made more sense than anything. If you had a choice, or even if you were actively attempting to direct your steps abroad, you went to England.
A lot can happen in five years.