10 Americans with a point to prove in Europe

The start of Europe's top leagues sees some of the U.S.' biggest stars back on the field. Kristan Heneage looks at 10 players set for big seasons, and why it could all go right ... or wrong:

Ethan Horvath - Molde, GK

Manager’s view: Horvath is highly thought of by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The former Manchester United player has trusted the youngster to be the club’s number one during a tough season, with Horvath performing well.

Why he’s due a good season: Molde is really struggling. Horvath is consistently being tested with 1v1 attacks and difficult shots. Even if the team might not be improving, he has been, at least. Riding a difficult set of results in  he Norwegian Eliteserien, he recently helped Molde snap a six-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over Bodo/Glimt.

Why he’s due a bad season: Molde is, after all, struggling. The team sits around mid-table right now, and it doesn’t look set to improve that much in the coming months. Add to that Horvath is not playing Europa League soccer and it’s not exactly the ideal situation for a talent that showed promise last season.

Brad Guzan - Middlesbrough, GK

Manager’s view: Aitor Karanka has yet to speak publicly about Guzan, but it is strongly believed that the former Aston Villa man is second choice behind Victor Valdes. Eager to keep things competitive though, the Boro boss has spoken of the ‘selection headache’ he has at goalkeeper. 

Why he’s due a good season: A change can be as good as a rest. The atmosphere at Aston Villa last season was toxic, and it was no surprise that a team so lacking in leadership was first to be relegated from the Premier League. Now working alongside Valdes, and at a more stable club, we could see the rebirth of Guzan’s career. 

Why he’s due a bad season: While it’s easy to assign blame for Villa’s season to others, there’s no escaping the fact Guzan made some big mistakes last season. He looked shaky, and if he doesn’t seize his opportunities with Boro, he could find himself riding the bench. That will destroy the momentum required to oust Tim Howard, and that’s before we even discuss the idea of Middlesbrough being relegated.

DeAndre Yedlin - Tottenham, D

 Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Yedlin was a key player for the USMNT at Copa America (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports).

Manager’s view: From a squad perspective, Mauricio Pochettino views Yedlin as his third choice right back behind Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker. That comes a year after Pochettino issued Yedlin a public challenge to establish himself before eventually loaning him out to Sunderland. 

Why he’s due a good season: Yedlin will not struggle to find suitors in Europe. His loan spell at Sunderland won admirers, and even though Sam Allardyce has left for the England job, the Black Cats are still interested in signing the fullback. Should that deal fail to materalize, another loan beckons.

Why he’s due a bad season: The unfortunate consensus over DeAndre Yedlin’s Tottenham Hotspur future is that he doesn’t have one. That means he needs to find a new team, and time is running out. The defender will already have missed pre-season, and that means he will be playing catch-up on his new teammates, which is not ideal. He also has to hope he gets a manager with a skill for developing defenders. Yedlin got lucky with Allardyce, and he’d be wise to try and find a coach in a similar mould. 

Cameron Carter-Vickers - Tottenham, D

Manager’s view:  Few defensive prospects have American fans as excited as Carter-Vickers, and it seems that view is shared by Pochettino. The Spurs boss has agreed to sell Dominic Ball to Rotherham this week, indicating he sees Carter-Vickers above him in the pecking order. 

Why he’s due a good season: The teenager was handed brief exposure to the first team last season, including time in the Europa League. Add to that the fact Spurs have a number of commitments to handle this season (including Champions League, EFL Cup and FA Cup), and it suggests that Carter-Vickers will find time on the field eventually. 

Why he’s due a bad season: During the tour of Australia, the teenager came up against Juventus and looked somewhat off the pace. He will face a steep learning curve this season, and mistakes will not be tolerated by Pochettino. In general, he is stuck in a difficult position, whereby Spurs want to keep him, but he also needs competitive minutes to develop his ability. 

Danny Williams - Reading, M

Manager’s view: Former Dutch international Jaap Stam only arrived at Reading this summer, but he already seems a fan of Danny Williams. Naming him in the side for the opening day win against Preston North End, he said last week that he hopes to keep Williams at the club amid Premier League interest.

Why he’s due a good season: The 27-year-old was a key player for Reading last season, during which he recorded the best goals total of his career. Tasked with being the experienced head alongside youngsters John Swift and George Evans in midfield, his style of play is a good fit for Stam’s short passing approach. Currently in the last year of his contract, Williams will also know that if he performs well enough he can leave on a free transfer to the Premier League next summer. 

Why he’s due a bad season:  Things have started brightly for Stam, but his team is only one game into the season. The Dutch coach seems somewhat strict, and if Williams does not look to sign an extension, he may see his playing time limited. 

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