In Pulisic’s wake: 6 Americans set to make huge impacts in Europe

Casey Brooke Lawson-ISI Photos

As the European soccer season arrives, these players are primed to take a major step forward.

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Joshua Perez, Fiorentina

With a familiar name on a widely known team, Perez has been on the radar of men’s national team fans for years.

Son of former U.S. international Hugo Perez, Joshua is forging his own career in Italy with Fiorentina. The California-born attacker wanted to get to Europe early in his career, and told American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta that he “never thought at one point that I would stay in the States.”

With that commitment in mind, 2017 could be a big season for Joshua.

The U.S. youth international signed a four-year deal in February, an important sign that he remains in Fiorentina’s plans. But he’ll have to deal with a new coaching staff, as Stefano Pioli, who was fired by Inter in May, has taken the reins.

If Perez can break into the first team with Fiorentina, he could cement his position as one of the most exciting young Americans in Europe.

Desevio Payne, Excelsior

He may not have a high-profile transfer to Chelsea on his resume like Matt Miazga, but Payne is another young American defender with a seemingly bright future in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Payne was born in South Carolina to a Trinidadian father and a Dutch mother who moved the family to Holland when he just a year old.

After making 17 senior-team appearances for F.C. Groningen and more than 70 with its youth teams, the 21-year-old wasn’t re-signed, meaning his career was uncertain. But in May, S.B.V. Excelsior swooped in to sign Payne to a two-year deal.

Fullback is almost always a position of need for the U.S., and a young American playing first-team soccer in the Eredivisie could be an important piece or the future.

Russell Canouse, Hoffenheim

For Russell Canouse, the 2017-2018 season is a chance to prove the young American can make it in the German Bundesliga.

Canouse signed with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga as a 16-year-old in 2012. He  made dozens of appearances in the club’s youth ranks and one substitute appearance for the Hoffenheim first team through 2016, when he was loaned to 2. Bundesliga side VfL Bochum for two seasons.

In his first year with his new club, Canouse made 20 appearances – largely in midfield – and scored one goal.

Now, with 2. Bundesliga experience, the 22-year-old has a season to show his Hoffenheim bosses that he’s worth a senior-team spot.

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