Analysis

Five USMNT players who could make summer moves – and where they might land

ISI Photos / Pixathlon / Neil Baynes

No World Cup won't mean no news for U.S. men's national team players. These five could be subject to club transfers this summer.

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Bobby Wood

It’s been a miserable campaign for Hamburg and probably even more so for the 25-year-old American striker. He has just two Bundesliga goals this year for the once-prominent club, where that famous relegation clock could soon need an unceremonious restarting. Hamburg has never been relegated out of Germany’s top tier (dating to 1963) but now dangles perilously close with just two matches remaining.

Wood signed a long-term extension just last summer, but an impending salary dump, not to mention a season of personal struggle, makes the American striker a likely candidate for discharge. Either way, a change of scenery might be a good idea, especially considering his goal last weekend was his first for Hamburg since August.

At least one Major League Soccer club reportedly has interest – but there is most likely more than one. The attached transfer fee of around $4 million and salary demands that could reach Bundesliga-level could scare away some potential buyers stateside. Then again, because he is not subject to Major League Soccer’s (mysterious) allocation list, Wood has more freedom and say in how the negotiations may play out. That would seem to enhance his chances of landing in MLS.

He won’t be the second coming of David Villa as an MLS goal scorer, but Wood’s work rate, technical skill and ability to stretch defenses with speed all contribute value. It’s not hard to see the Honolulu native becoming a solid 14- to 15-goal scorer in the league. Plenty of clubs would relish that – the question will be, “At what price?”

Emerson Hyndman

On the one hand, the Bournemouth midfielder is just 22 years old. Then again, he’s been around a while now in the professional game, and these should be good years for someone who made his pro debut back in 2014.

Alas, what an utterly wasted year it has been for the technically gifted former Fulham man.

Big hopes abounded for Hyndman when he left Craven Cottage in the summer of 2016. By joining Bournemouth, the Texas native attached himself to a club on the rise, a year into its initial and ongoing Premier League run. Things certainly didn’t turn out terrible that first year. While he didn’t make much headway at the Vitality Stadium, a loan to Rangers in Scotland worked out well enough to file 2016-17 under ‘moderate progress.’ Then … this year. Ooof.

Hyndman has made a total of three cup appearances, but none in league play for the mid-table Cherries. Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has frequently talked up the American midfielder, but he also likes to mention how central midfield is a position of relative strength for the club – which means Hyndman looks absolutely stuck. Talk of a winter transfer never materialized, but a move this summer looks like a must.

He’s small, although not necessarily fragile. As a connector, he’s probably best suited for a box-to-box role but versatile enough to perform anywhere in the midfield. His range of possible landing sites seems ample – so long as none of them are Vitality Stadium.

Geoff Cameron

We all know what happens when Premier League clubs are relegated: Ticket and (especially) TV revenue fall through the floor. Salary structure becomes a tricky balance between cost and club ambition. Whatever the balance, teams in England’s Championship (the second tier) can’t come close to justifying $70,000 per week salaries, which is approximately the current average pay rate for Premier League players.

PL player contracts can have clauses that reduce their pay rate by 50 percent and beyond in the event of relegation. All of it means a quick and brutal roster dismantling. Cameron would be as likely as anyone to move on.

The longtime United States international (55 caps) isn’t making $70,000 a week, but he’s probably pulling in more than a relegated club wants to spend for a 32-year-old defender. So the question becomes: Where does Cameron best fit? (And what does he want to do?)

His ability to play multiple positions (center back, fullback or holding midfield) certainly increases interest. His familiarity with MLS could swing some attention here, as well; Cameron was a Houston Dynamo standout from 2008-2012 before his move into the English midlands.

A couple of years ago, bringing a well-paid U.S. defender back to MLS would have been problematic; teams weren’t generally using those precious Designated Player slots for defenders. But all that added discretionary spending money has changed the calculus in MLS. Targeted Allocation Money was created in part with players like Cameron in mind.

Tyler Adams

Expect a heavy swirl of transfer speculation out of Red Bull Arena this summer. And expect promising midfielder Tyler Adams to be the eye of that storm.

Decisions could be coming for any and all of Sean Davis, Michael Murillo, Kemar Lawrence and possibly even recently-added center back Tim Parker. But Adams, the box-to-box midfielder who commands so much respect for his leadership at such a young age, is the prize.

Adams, 19, is clearly central to Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch’s plan; we learned that more than year ago with club management’s willingness to part with popular captain Dax McCarty. Still, when European clubs with A-list status come sniffing around, as AS Roma reportedly did in the winter, a business model toward which the Red Bulls have been building could finally kick in. You develop Homegrown Players to win trophies, of course, but also for profit, which feeds further development in a cyclical pattern. That’s the hope, anyway.

Adams, coming off his breakout MLS season, seems destined to move into Europe sooner rather than later.

Christian Pulisic

With Dortmund’s livewire attacker quite possibly on the fast track to that fabled label of best U.S. player ever produced, a move out of the pulsating Westfalenstadion has long seemed a case of when, not if. And it feels more and more like the ‘when’ is just about here for Christian Pulisic.

Talk of Pulisic’s move began careening through the ether last summer. But he had been a lineup staple under then-manager Thomas Tuchel for just one year at Dortmund. Plus, radical changes of address are always dicey in the season prior to a World Cup.

Well, those barriers have been removed. Although still 19 years old, Pulisic is an established two-year starter who doesn’t have a World Cup distraction to complicate potential summer movement after the U.S.’ failed qualifying bid. Where he goes is anyone’s guess; the line forms to the left for a versatile attacker not even close to his prime, but one who can reliably drive inside from either wing or create centrally. What can hardly be in doubt it this:

If Pulisic leaves Dortmund this summer, he’s not just going to break the transfer record for an American, he’s going to smash that poor thing to smithereens.

John Brooks set the record about a year ago with his transfer from Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg for around $22 million. That roughly doubled the previous high fee for a U.S. player; according to various reports the amount Sunderland paid Dutch club Alkmaar for Jozy Altidore in 2013 was something just north of $10 million.

Those will all seem like piddling little sums if Pulisic stays healthy over the next month and moves this summer: One transfer database puts his current value at around $55 million. Other reports have speculated that figure could reach $100 million and beyond for the Pennsylvania native. We’ll see. And possibly quite soon.

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