Pro Prospects: U.S. youth on the move

Pro Prospects: U.S. youth on the move
by Travis Clark
July 10, 2018

With the summer transfer window open, opportunities are opening up for U.S. youngsters seeking to challenge themselves abroad.

Watts signs with second division club in Spain

2017 U.S. U17 MNT World Cup veteran Akil Watts became the latest member of last year’s squad to sign a pro contract, as the Indiana native inked a deal with RCD Mallorca on Monday.

Mallorca currently sits in the second division in Spain and Watts is under contract with Mallorca B team, and he'll compete for minutes for that side along with the U19 team, as he'll remain age-eligible for the youth side.

Capable of playing as a central midfielder or outside back, Watts spent part of the 2017-18 season with the Portland Timbers Academy before embarking on European trials. During last year’s World Cup, Watts made three appearances for the USA, including two starts.

Richie Ledezma on trial in the Netherlands

Real Salt Lake Academy standout Richie Ledezma is on trial with PSV Eindhoven in Holland, according to Dutch media reports.

Ledezma scored 13 goals in 30 appearances for RSL’s U19 side during the most recent Development Academy season. His play also earned him some run with the Real Monarchs, RSL’s USL reserve squad. Ledezma’s played in five games, logging 248 minutes and making two starts. He was named the Boys DA West Conference Player of the Year for the U18/19 age group this week by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

While his future is far from certain, Ledezma doesn’t turn 18 until September 6, which limits the possibility of a move abroad until then – which is also generally outside the registration period for most European leagues. It doesn’t preclude him from anything, of course, but something to keep in mind.

Former UCLA forward signs in Denmark

Seyi Adekoya may have lasted just a single season with the Seattle Sounders, and now the former UCLA standout is set to try out his luck abroad.

The 22-year-old signed with Vendsyssel FF, a newly-promoted side in Danish Superliga. The Hjørring-based club won promotion by defeating Lyngby BK in the Superliga playoffs this summer.

Adekoya is looking to jumpstart a professional career that never got rolling with the Sounders. After signing a homegrown deal with Seattle in January 2017, after his junior year at UCLA, Adekoya made just two appearances in MLS. He spent 13 games on loan with S2 in the USL, scoring a single goal.

Christopher Richards heads on loan to FC Bayern

It may not be a permanent move, but FC Dallas Homegrown signing Christopher Richards is set to join FC Bayern Munich U19s on loan for the upcoming season.

The past year has been a whirlwind climb for Richards, who spent the 2016-17 season as part of the Texans SC Houston DA-winning side. He joined the FC Dallas Academy for the most recently completed club season, eventually signing a Homegrown deal with FC Dallas despite the fact he had yet to meet the training requirements that MLS supposedly adheres to. Like Ledezma, Richards earned Central Conference Player of the Year for the U18/19 age group, and has appeared in several camps for the U.S. youth national team despite not getting a long look for last year’s World Cup squad.

Wright on trial with 2. Bundesliga side

With media reports in Germany indicating that Haji Wright will start the 2018-19 season as part of Schalke’s U23 side, the former U.S. U17 MNT forward is spending the preseason on trial with FC Union Berlin, a 2. Bundesliga side.

Wright spent the 2017-18 campaign on loan with Sandhausen, another 2. Bundesliga side. He played 587 minutes, scoring one goal in 15 appearances.

Rutgers GK Silva training in Scotland

Another former U.S. youth international could be on his way to Europe.

Kevin Silva, on the books at Rutgers after transferring from UCLA earlier this year, is on trial with Hearts in the Scottish Premier League.

The native of Bethlehem, Pa., Silva made 30 starts in his two seasons with the Bruins, finishing with a record of 12-13-1 and with 122 saves during that stretch. He's made a positive impression so far on Hearts manager Craig Levein.

“Kevin is here for a wee while so we’ll have to see how he gets on,” Levein told the Edinburgh Evening News. “We’d have to decide what level he would come in at – whether he would be competition for Kelby Mason or whether he can push Zlamal in the first team.

“He is a good reaction goalkeeper and his kicking was quite good as well. So from that point of view he did well. He made a couple of good saves in the first half.

American-born midfielder joins up with Manchester United U18s

Will Vint, a midfielder that played for Real Colorado in the 2015-16 Development Academy season, is set to join up with Manchester United's Under-18 side for the upcoming season. The club announced that Vint will be a part of the youth team's preseason training camp set to be held in Austria.

Vint was called up into the U.S. youth national team Summit Camp that was held in Florida at the start of 2018. His father Peter, spent time as the academy director at Everton and is a Sports Performance advisor in the UK according to his LinkedIn profile.

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