It’s no longer necessary, at least not in any real way, for American players to leave the country to improve. The Development Academy and the general advancement of U.S. soccer infrastructure saw to that. The increasing droves of talent issuing forth from a variety of sources can attest to the fact.
But the truth remains that points abroad, and specifically in Europe, remain the golden shore for the best and brightest. As much as MLS has improved developmentally in the last 10 years since the Development Academy was founded, its professional opportunities still pale in light of what Europe’s brightest can offer. And as long as that’s the case, the U.S.’s most enticing prospects will continue to cast their collective gaze abroad for opportunities at the highest level.
The question, then, is merely about fit. And it’s perhaps the most important one.
Club fit more or less determines the success of a player’s time spent abroad. An unsympathetic coach can sink an entire club stint, and on the flip side, a coach who genuinely believes in a player can launch their career. For these Americans, all these questions are currently on the table. And if they aren’t yet in a real substantive way, they will be soon.
So where should the U.S.’s best prospects look in terms of club fit, when the time inevitably comes that Europe plonks down a transfer offer on MLS’s doorstep? I have a few ideas about that. Here’s a glimpse at where three of the best young American talent capable of making waves in Europe should ultimately look if they want to make a quick impact abroad on the highest level.