Americans Abroad 2019-20: A New Hope

Titans Bastard

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He gets almost zero press in the US, but there will be an American born-and-raised manager in the Bundesliga next season. Pellegrino Matarazzo & VfB Stuttgart have finished second in the 2.Bundesliga and been promoted. Matarazzo took charge in late December.

He's from NJ, went to Columbia, played for German lower-division clubs in the first decade of the 2000s, became a youth coach for Nürnberg, and eventually became an assistant at Hoffenheim before getting the Stuttgart job.
 

speedracer

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This is good news.

Can anyone tell me why Germany seems so much more receptive to American players and Coaches?
Easier to obtain authorization to work (e.g. in the Premiership you pretty much have to be a national team regular or close to it) and popularity of English as a second language would be my guesses
 

Titans Bastard

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Easier to obtain authorization to work (e.g. in the Premiership you pretty much have to be a national team regular or close to it) and popularity of English as a second language would be my guesses
Yes, it's all about legal barriers. Players who have a second passport from a country that allows them to work in the EU have a lot more options. For everyone else:

England
You need a work permit. To qualify for a work permit, you need to appear in a certain percentage of non-friendly NT games over the last year or two. So basically, if you aren't an NT regular, you aren't going to get a WP unless you get in on appeal. The ease of getting a WP via appeal has waxed and waned over the years, but certainly an unproven American kid is never going to get it.

France & Spain
France and Spain have a limit on the non-EU players they can register in their squad. These slots tend to be used for imports from African or Latin America, rather than on unproven American kids. If an American player has a passport from certain African countries, they can get into France as a "domestic" player. If an American player has a passport from signatories to the Cotonou Agreement (many countries in Africa + Caribbean), they can get into Spain. But this hasn't come up often in either country.

Italy
Serie A has a quota on the number of non-EU players that can be signed from teams outside Italy in a given year. I'm not 100% sure of the details but it also makes it hard for Americans to go here.

Netherlands
There is no roster limit on non-EU players, but there is a salary floor for non-EU players. It's not that high for youth players, but at age ~20 or so it reaches a level that is quite expensive for the bottom half of the league. Even for the bigger clubs, they really want to be sure you are worth it. Dutch clubs will sign good prospects like Richie Ledezma, but they aren't going to take flyers on any random guy.


In Germany, there are no rules about foreigners. Bundesliga clubs, who on average have a vastly smaller transfer budget than EPL clubs, also have more incentive to focus on player development as a source of top talent, and revenue. German clubs understand that you can get very good prospects for basically nothing from America, because lots of our best teens aren't locked down on professional contracts. And at this point, I think it's fair to say that success begets success. With guys like Pulisic, McKennie, and Reyna doing well in the Bundesliga, it's not a one-off fluke. Sargent also holds promise, and Adams is a very good import that RB Leipzig brought in from RBNY.

There are four Americans who have been involved with big clubs in Germany in recent years in various capacities and all have specific reasons that drew them there, but it should be noted that all wound up in their roles for specific situations and weren't just plucked out of the US like an 18 year old prospect out of the Development Academy.

David Wagner (Schalke) is a German-born-and-raised dual national. He played for the USMNT in the 90s but isn't a product of the American system in any way.
Pellegrino Matarazzo (Stuttgart) is US born-and-raised, but has been in Germany for two decades. He holds two nationalities, and local German press often refers to him as "the Italian" anyway.
Steve Cherundolo (ex-Hannover, ex-Stuttgart, youth & assistant roles) got jobs because he played for Hannover for 15 years
Jesse Marsch (ex-RB Leipzig assistant, current RB Salzburg) got a job due to his Red Bull connections.


Marsch won the Austrian double today, btw.
 

67YAZ

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Young winger Konrad de la Fuente has signed a new contract with Barcelona. He had a few appearances for Barça B this year, but I think he'll feature more regularly next season.

View: https://twitter.com/FCBmasia/status/1277259249882726402
The Segunda Division is probably a good level for him right now and getting to train in world class facilities with world class coaches is huge. But I’m worried that without a real shot at the first team, he’s going to get stuck in loan purgatory eventually. Hope Konrad and his team can successfully advocate for him and navigate the next few years with some savvy.
 

Titans Bastard

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Anyone remember Ben Lederman? He's a California kid who moved at a relatively young age to La Masia and got a bunch of lengthy writeups in the US media over his youth career. He was never going to make it at Barça, but his career that got cut extra short because he was one of the illegal youth transfers that got the club in trouble. He followed it up with an unsuccessful stint at Gent, but finally just made his pro debut a week or two ago in the Polish Ekstraklasa. He signed a new, four-year contract today. Go forth and conquer, Ben.

View: https://twitter.com/Rakow1921/status/1278015692869111810
 

Kliq

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The pandemic has sucked for million different reasons, but Pulisic turning into Lionel Messi during it might end up making it all worth it.
 

Titans Bastard

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The pandemic has sucked for million different reasons, but Pulisic turning into Lionel Messi during it might end up making it all worth it.
I think that the lack of recent NT games and, before that, the various injuries to some of our top young players, have masked how fun the USMNT is going to be very soon.

I don't feel like looking it up right now, but I believe the number of games that Pulisic, Adams, and McKennie have started together is either one or zero. But now throw in Gio Reyna, who is very much being fast-tracked and treated like a true blue-chip prospect by BVB. Dest transformed from someone viewed as a middling prospect in the Ajax academy to being linked with Bayern and Barça. And I could go on!
 

Titans Bastard

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A local makes the case that Cameron Carter-Vickers is the best loan signing in Luton history. I'm not sure who his competition for that title is, but hey.


Reading announced they signed three academy players to professional contracts, including the spectacularly-named American forward Augustus McGiff.

 

InstaFace

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I think that the lack of recent NT games and, before that, the various injuries to some of our top young players, have masked how fun the USMNT is going to be very soon.

I don't feel like looking it up right now, but I believe the number of games that Pulisic, Adams, and McKennie have started together is either one or zero. But now throw in Gio Reyna, who is very much being fast-tracked and treated like a true blue-chip prospect by BVB. Dest transformed from someone viewed as a middling prospect in the Ajax academy to being linked with Bayern and Barça. And I could go on!
Well don't let us stop you, man! This is the weekend for metaphorical patriotic boners! How's the rest of the defense? I see Yedlin getting regular starts. CBs still a mess? How's Steffen doing these days? Any good articles about Sargent?

edit: Hope Tim Weah's over them growing pains by now...
 

Titans Bastard

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The summer transfer market is going to be very weird for obvious reasons. A few notes early on:

Sebastian Soto has moved from Hannover to Norwich City. Soto had a nice U20 World Cup, but had a real lost year in Germany. He refused to sign a contract extension, a summer deal fell through, and in true spiteful Euro club fashion, he was buried. He also had some black marks on his record (publicly called out by coach for lack of effort, disciplined for a mask-wearing violation) that speak poorly of him, but one can hope it's a case of a frustrated 19 year old. I'm not a big fan of how he and his agent are managing his career, frankly. The bet on a summer 2019 transfer failed, and now he's going to England, where he won't be eligible for a work permit so he'll have to take his chances on loan for at least a year and probably more.

In retrospect, he should have signed with RSL.

Some speclation:


Reggie Cannon is still with FC Dallas, though there is strong reporting that they are trying to sell him this summer. Reportedly some mid-table Bundesliga clubs are interested, which I think is the right sort of next step for him. I've read/heard that FCD want $3m, which is totally reasonable and hopefully COVID financial issues don't cause problems. FCD have finally had their come-to-Jesus moment where they now understand that top prospects will stop signing with them if they don't sell their successful players to Europe eventually.

Schalke are mired in a deepening financial crisis, so even though Weston McKennie is on a long-term contract, I think we'll see a lot of transfer speculation around him this summer. Schalke is going to suck for a while, possibly even more than they did this year, so it's probably a good time to get out. McKennie is young and has value, so Schalke may have an incentive to cash him in given their budgetary woes.

Wigan Athletic went into administration and are now likely to be relegated, which IMO means it is even more likely that Antonee Robinson will be sold. Since returning from his heart defect-related absence relatively recently, he's been in the Championship Team of the Week at least three times. The dramatic collapse of his move to AC Milan was disappointing for him, but it also creates that sort of mystique around him that will amplify interest. I'm very curious to see where he lands. He was awful for the USMNT in his caps, but he was also a young kid going up against Douglas Costa and Juan Cuadrado.

There are persistent rumors about Sergino Dest (particularly Bayern and Barça). I think he'd be best off with another year at Ajax under his belt before moving to a truly massive club, but sometimes the moment comes when it comes.


Every transfer window there's a flow of youth players picked up by clubs (mostly in Germany). I'm curious to know if the EU travel ban on Americans will affect that.
 

Titans Bastard

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Well don't let us stop you, man! This is the weekend for metaphorical patriotic boners! How's the rest of the defense? I see Yedlin getting regular starts. CBs still a mess? How's Steffen doing these days? Any good articles about Sargent?

edit: Hope Tim Weah's over them growing pains by now...
Yedlin: not a good year for him. One start in 2020, as he's fallen out of favor. I've said it before, don't be shocked if Cannon starts over him for the USMNT, with Dest at LB... But regardless of your preferred pecking order, that's a great depth chart at RB by USMNT standards.

CB: The guy with the most blue-chip potential is Chris Richards, who just made his Bundesliga debut for Bayern. Whether he has the quality to make it there is an unanswered question, but he's good and I think even if Bayern doesn't happen he has a good chance of landing at a pretty solid club. Another one to keep track of is Owen Otasowie, a CB/DM at Wolves. He's the sort of guy where I feel like I'm always "hearing good things" and he's made the bench in EPL games a few times, but I've never seen him play. Domestically, the best hopes are Miles Robinson (above-average starter with Atlanta) and Mark McKenzie (Philly, younger, still a bit more inconsistent defensively, but a very good passer). Erik Palmer-Brown (Austria Wien on loan from Man City) is a long-time favorite of many whose career has neither taken off nor taken a nosedive so we'll see.

Steffen: Had a good year for Fortuna Düsseldorf but missed a lot of time with knee tendonitis. Hopefully it doesn't become a theme. Like with Sargent at FW, I think we have a lot of eggs in Steffen's basket since we don't have other forward or GK prospects who seem likely to emerge as above-average NT players in the near-term future.