These days, the career path for young American players seems straightforward: get your bum to Europe as early and as quickly as possible, and then move on. It’s an approach that Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas v Roma), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union v Genk), Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia v FC Salzburg) and Daryl Dike (Orlando City) have seen in the last six months alone after Barnsley) , everyone moves abroad before their 22nd birthday.
The recent exodus continues an ever-growing trend for American stars. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Giovani Reyna already crossed the Atlantic as teenagers.
All of this makes the paths of Paul Arriola and Jordan Morris seem anachronistic by comparison. Both recently completed loan removals to the English high-flyers of the Swansea City Championship – and could play against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup this Wednesday12:30 pm. ET, ESPN +) – but at the relatively advanced age of 26 years. Not that it is definitely too late.
“My goal has always been to grow as a player and that is still my goal,” said Arriola. “How can I push myself? How can I take myself to the next level?”
Admittedly, every career has its own dynamic. For some, the path is clear early and resembles a beautifully paved road. Others may get stuck in dead ends or decline the opportunity to move abroad as the path doesn’t follow them at the end of their game days. There is also a school of thought after which you start abroad and then return to MLS to turn your back on foreign opportunities forever. But that’s exactly what Arriola did when he started his career at Liga MX club Tijuana, where he spent four years.
While Arriola made herself useful to XolosHe never quite rose to the ranks of the indispensable. As D.C. When United called in 2017 for a $ 3 million transfer fee, he took the chance, missed other opportunities overseas and was consistently present for both the black and red and the US men’s national team. Meanwhile, the native Californian has never closed the door to future opportunities abroad.
Carabao Cup LIVE: Swansea City vs. Man City, 2/10, 12:30 p.m. ET
“My thoughts were that I could use MLS as a trampoline jump and then go further when I was successful,” he said. “I’ve found some stability [with DCU]and I was able to establish myself. I wanted to continue the same kind of career where you are a constant influence gamer and always involved in games. “
Swansea City borrower Jordan Morris arrives and immediately receives a penalty for the Swans.
As much as it has become a cliché that there are myriad avenues to a successful professional career, Morris seemed to violate even more of the principles of how best to navigate that path. At age 18, he turned down a contract with the Seattle Sounders to go the badly made college route and attend Stanford University. His reasoning was simple – with the likes of Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, and Eddie Johnson on the team’s books, getting time to play would be difficult. Going to a high level program like Stanford would still test him.
“Walk [to Stanford]I felt like my path was going to be easy: play there for so many years, hopefully try to win a national championship, then come back to the Sounders because European teams don’t scout college kids, “he said .
A fight against the US men’s national team before the 2014 World Cup changed everything. Morris impressed the United States back then. Manager Jürgen Klinsmann so much that he was called up to the senior national team later that year and became the first college player to play for the USMNT in 15 years. On his first international start in 2015, the forward scored a friendly against rivals Mexico. When Morris decided to turn pro after his junior year at Stanford in early 2016, he trained with and received an offer from Bundesliga club Werder Bremen. Seattle also tried to land the striker, but it was clear what most observers had expected from him: go to Germany. Morris disagreed and instead joined the hometown Sounders.
“When I went to Bremen, I definitely felt this pressure that people thought it was the best option for me,” said Morris. “But I knew myself. And I knew what I thought would be best for my career and where I felt I was developing the best, and I felt that this would be Seattle.”
This decision was made in a few circles: then-USA. international Jermaine Jones said at the time that Morris was taking “the easy way“But Morris felt that being close to home would help him adapt to the professional game, and time has shown that the move has clearly paid off with a pair of MLS trophies. When Morris tore up his ACL in 2018, that was he family-friendly and, like Arriola, Morris never felt he was giving up a European move entirely.
“I was confident that this option would be available,” he said. “But at the time and now, if I had played my whole career in Seattle, I would have been really, very happy and fulfilled and I would have felt that I have developed really well as a player.”
Could any player have developed faster if they had dived into overseas opportunities earlier in their career? It is impossible to tell. One or both of them may have seen their stocks soar, but many American careers in Europe have also dried up. You are certainly traveling to Europe now as a more established, mature player.
Timing was also a factor in taking a step now. Morris said he had felt the itch for the past few years to test himself overseas. With MLS not set to start until April 3rd, Arriola said he doesn’t want to wait a few months for his next competitive game, especially since he continues to return to full strength after an ACL injury of his own. With a busy international calendar, testing yourself and staying sharp will be of the utmost importance. And now they can also rely on a club that is in the middle of the Premier League promotion race.
“Paul and I are very close, [and have been] with the national team for a while, “said Morris.” He’s one of my good friends so it’s actually pretty surreal that we ended up in the same place. “
Especially considering the paths they have taken.– Jeff Carlisle
A few minutes with … Reggie Cannon
USMNT right-back Reggie Cannon moved in September after more than three seasons in the MLS at FC Dallas to the Portuguese team Boavista.
The 20-year-old recently met with ESPN’s Tom Hamilton to discuss his decision to move to Europe, life in Portugal and the situation at Boavista so far.
Reggie Cannon explains the pressure to top European clubs to play in a springboard league.
Stock Watch: Assessing the ups and downs of Americans abroad
John Brooks, Wolfsburg – On the rise:: Brooks was quietly one of the best performing Americans in Europe this season and had a Wolfsburg defense that conceded only 19 goals in 19 Bundesliga games. This is the second best brand in the top German league. In fact, Wolfsburg have not conceded a goal in five consecutive games in all competitions, with Brooks playing every minute during that time. The 28-year-old was reportedly available for the transfer last summer, sources told ESPN, but Wolfsburg appears to be pretty glad they were holding on to the American.
According to a German journalist, because of Brooks’ experience and Lacroix’s speed, Brooks has formed an “ideal partnership” with newcomer Maxence Lacroix. If Brooks can repeat his most recent club form with the national team, it would be a huge boon for the USMNT as inconsistencies have shaped his international career so far.
Christian Pulisic, Chelsea – Trending down Trending down:: Thomas Tuchel confirmed after the Chelsea win Sheffield United on Sunday that Pulisic was removed from the squad because of “family problems”. However, the 22-year-old’s engagement under the new blues boss was limited to 84 minutes in four games.
Sources tell ESPN’s James Olley that the United States The international’s shortened playing time could be explained for several reasons: The club’s medical staff are concerned that the U.S. international is at risk of another thigh injury and Tuchel is keen to evaluate the squad available to him as he is already has a good understanding of what Pulisic has to offer after their time together Borussia Dortmund.
Jordan Siebatcheu, Young Boys (on loan from Rennes) – On the rise:: If Siebatcheu is an unfamiliar name to you, it may be because he didn’t play for the US at any level. The Washington DC-born striker, who was on loan from Ligue 1’s Swiss giants Young Boys from Rennes, scored a hat trick last week to score seven goals this season in 17 games for the Swiss Super League leaders. While it didn’t work out for him initially at Rennes, sources tell ESPN that the French club continue to view his future very positively and expect him to return and fight for a spot next season.
The former French U21 international continues to qualify for the USA Interview with American Soccer Now last year he indicated that he would be open to representing the Stars and Stripes. Given the USMNT’s uncertainty with the striker, don’t be surprised if Gregg Berhalter will soon call up the form-strong Siebatcheu.
Konrad de la Fuente, Barcelona – Hold on:: After De la Fuente barca’s first team surprisingly cracked the preseason at the tender age of 19, he has taken a back seat in recent months. The winger has only managed 26 minutes for Barca so far in this campaign so recently turned out for Barca B to get playing time.
With Ronald Koeman firmly believing that youngsters need to play and gain experience, sources told ESPN that if Barca can keep the players fit, he will now train with the first team of the week and face the B on Friday or Saturday Team and then play for them on the weekend. Joining a star-studded Barca team has always been a big deal for the youngster and next season Barca will have to decide whether it’s best for his development to stay in the first team again or to borrow and get on get protocol.
Scouting Report: Bryan Reynolds
Bryan Reynolds has only made 31 MLS appearances on his behalf and has yet to represent the United States above the U18 level, but two of Italy’s biggest clubs, Juventus and AS Roma, were eager to sign him during the winter transfer window. Why? Potential.
Roma eventually won the tug-of-war for the 19-year-old right-back, the youngest talent – West McKennie, Chris Richards, Reggie Cannon, etc. – to emerge from Dallas FC’s fertile development pipeline. What they get is a player at great advantage as Reynolds is tall (6’3 “), speed, and an excellent crosser of the ball. Reynolds’ early career winger also seems to have really benefited from being more attacking Point of view, especially as a dribbler and in terms of his directness, he accumulated three assists for Dallas last season but with the number of chances he created (16 in 19 games) that number could have been slightly higher.
Reynolds needs to evolve as a defender. Although the youngster didn’t make a signing last season, he’s been defensively inconsistent at times and he definitely has room for improvement when it comes to tracking runners and not getting too far forward. This seems to be a common thread with most young full-backs, and given Reynolds’ recent position change, this could simply be dismissed as an inexperience in the position.
Reynolds is not a player who will jump into Roma’s starting XI overnight, but he has tremendous attack potential as a full-back over the long term and that’s what top clubs are giving away big bucks for these days.