A pair of Division I college standouts have popped up on both sides of the Old Firm rivalry over the past week.
NC State and U.S. Under 20 defender Manny Perez has been on trial at Celtic, per several media reports. Perez was a part of the U20 MNT’s successful run at the Concacaf U20 Championship in November. He played in 14 games this past season for the Wolfpack, scoring a goal and adding five assists.
On the other side of the rivalry, Indiana standout and recently-named TDS Player of the Year Andrew Gutman is also on trial with Glasgow-side Rangers. Gutman led IU to the College Cup, scoring 11 goals and adding nine assists in his final season.
With ties to the Chicago Fire Academy, it had been expected that the Fire would snap up Gutman as a Homegrown player at the end of his college career. And while that is still very much a possibility, Gutman has the chance to impress Rangers head coach Steven Gerrard and start his professional career in Scotland.
Both would need to satisfy work permit issues in order to seal the moved, though that's understood to be a more straightforward process than joining an English Premier League side.
Update: It was reported Thursday morning that Perez will sign with Celtic and join the team as of January 1 provided he receives a work permit.
Ledezma on the way to Netherlands
The exodus from MLS Academies to Europe is set to continue over the winter season, as former Real Salt Lake midfielder Richie Ledezma is expected to sign with PSV Eindhoven when the transfer window opens.
Ledezma, part of the U.S. U20 player pool, missed the Concacaf Championship after suffering a foot injury he picked up while training ahead of his anticipated move to Holland.
Per his social media, he is heading to Holland this week and is expected to sign a multi-year deal according to Rif Elfrink, who covers the team. Once terms have been agreed and a contract signed, Ledezma will start playing for Jong PSV, the club's reserve side.
PSV-aanwinst Richie Ledezma (18) heeft inmiddels het vliegtuig gepakt naar Nederland. PSV heeft met hem een principe-akkoord, enkele details zijn nog in te vullen. Ledezma gaat bij PSV deze week een meerjarig contract tekenen, als alles rondkomt. Sluit eerst aan bij Jong PSV.— Rik Elfrink (@RikElfrink) December 17, 2018
Mendez picks up U.S. Soccer Young Player of the Year
In one of the least surprising developments of 2018, U.S. U20 star Alex Mendez earned U.S. Soccer's Young Player of the Year award, it was announced this week.
The former LA Galaxy Academy star who joined SC Freiburg earlier in the year, was the Golden Ball winner at this year's Concacaf U20 Championship. He scored eight goals and had six assists, leading the U.S. to its second straight U20 regional crown.
“It’s a very proud moment,” Mendez said in a statement. “First, I want to thank U.S. Soccer for the nomination. I also want to thank my family, my teammates and the U-20 squad that won the Concacaf Championship. Obviously, this is an individual award, but none of this would be possible without them pushing me to be a better player.”
Honored to have won this award, I just want to thank all the people behind this that made this possible ! Especially big thanks to coach @RamosTab for believing in me 👍🏽#AllGloryToGod https://t.co/6k7VD0Q7Vz— Alex Mendez (@aleexm21) December 19, 2018
D.C. United eye Bustamante, Pines
Pines was the crucial figure for Maryland's successful run to the national championship, as the 6-foot-5 center back led a defense that didn't concede a goal in the entirety of the NCAA tournament. He could certainly pursue European options or return to College Park for his final season of eligibility in the fall.
Bustamante recently finished his fourth season at William & Mary, where he's been one of the best midfielders in college soccer. He scored 34 goals and added 17 assists during his run at the CAA program. Both Pines and Bustamante, if they sign, would provide depth in the short term for Loudoun United, D.C.'s soon-to-launch USL franchise.