I inexplicably never finished the 3rd edition of “Familiar Faces in New Places”, which, following the lack of excitement from that window, may not be a bad thing. The winter transfer window had much more happen, highlighted by a more than few MLS homecomings and one big move across the pond. For this edition, I have eliminated putting the transfer totals. Price is just a number, and not indicative of a player’s value (*cough* Luke Shaw *cough* £27 million *cough*).
Additionally, these rankings have a different objective than the previous editions. Players are ranked based on the long term projections of their move. In the past I ranked players solely on what it meant for them heading into the 2014 World Cup, but if even half of these players are in the same place come 2018, I’ll be surprised.
With the rules in place, let’s get started!
1. DeAndre Yedlin: Seattle Sounders to Tottenham Hotspur
I cheated with our first transfer. Yedlin’s deal to Spurs was finalized in the summer, but he remained in Seattle to play out the MLS season. All the work-permit stuff that ruined Juan Agudelo’s career was taken care of following the MLS season and Yedlin is officially a member of one of the best Premier League sides. Even better, he plays a position where Tottenham lacks depth. We have yet to see Yedlin suit up for Spurs’ first team, but his speed and refined offensive technique should get him some burn before the end of the season. Going forward, Yedlin projects to be a long-term Premier League player, either as a defender or winger. He’s already dangerous going forward, and has shown a greater commitment to defending since Brazil. He is undoubtedly one of Jürgen Klinsmann’s favorite players, who should be a USMNT fixture and possible star for the next three World Cup cycles.
2. Mix Diskerud: Rosenborg to New York City FC
One of the biggest surprises in an American World Cup run full of them was that Diskerud played zero part in any of the USA’s four matches. Post-Brazil, Diskerud has been a feature of Klinsmann’s lineups, and arguably the top American threat in the midfield. His two-way game and passing ability means that he can be plugged into just about any lineup Klinsmann wants to trot out. There was a ton of speculation as to where he’d end up playing in 2015, before Mix finally ended the saga by joining one of MLS’ expansion clubs. At NYCFC Diskerud will be joined by David Villa and Frank Lampard, two iconic players that SHOULD help increase his development. Diskerud has star potential, and playing in the league’s biggest market could do wonders for his international career. Expect Diskerud to be a major player for the USMNT for much of the next decade.
3. Jozy Altidore: Sunderland to Toronto FC
In the first edition of the transfer recaps, Jozy’s move to Sunderland from AZ was ranked No. 1. After a miserable season-and-a-half in the Premier League, Jozy returns to MLS, where he hopefully scores more than one league goal this season. In Toronto Jozy gets to train and compete with Michael Bradley every day, which will help form a consistent partnership between the USA’s best striker and one of its best passers. Having Bradley and Altidore on the same page will be great both for Toronto and the national team.
That’s where the excitement ends. MLS should be a cakewalk for Jozy, as he should have no problem scoring double-digit goals. In fact, if he scores less than a dozen, this season will be viewed as a disappointment. Still 25, his development may largely be done, with this version of Altidore being the finished product. Of course, if Jozy can score goals for his club, it will help his overall confidence, which comes and goes. Altidore is still the No. 1 option up front for Jürgen Klinsmann, but there are other American strikers looking to snatch that spot away.
4. Juan Agudelo: New England Revolution (Free Agent Signing)
Agudelo returns to New England after being screwed out of a British work permit, which cost him the opportunity to play for Stoke. Unfortunately, he lost the entire summer and fall sitting on the sidelines. Agudelo is still 22, but has not had a memorable moment in Red, White and Blue since 2011. If he can play well in MLS, his combination of talent and potential would put him squarely back on Klinsmann’s radar.
5. Brek Shea: Stoke City to Orlando City
Part of the reason for the denial of Agudelo’s work permit was Shea’s time at Stoke, which can be summed up with one word: AWFUL. Shea arrived at Stoke in 2013 as the next great American hope and left with three Premier League appearances and a couple of poor loan stints. He comes back to MLS, where he was one of the best players in the league for FC Dallas in 2011. Shea is now one of the faces of expansion club Orlando City, where expectations will be high. Shea has been deployed by Klinsmann as a left wingback and later a true left back during the January USMNT camp. The coach struck gold with converted winger DaMarcus Beasley there during the 2014 World Cup cycle. Doing so with Shea, a player so inconsistent that it’s maddening, would be the USMNT boss’ greatest Houdini act yet.
6. Bobby Wood: 1860 Munich to Erzgebirge Aue
Wood remains a big part of Klinsmann’s plans despite falling out of favor with 1860 Munich. He transfers to a fellow 2. Bundesliga bottom-feeder in an attempt to revive his career. Wood has gotten several golden opportunities, the most recent being a start in the Chile friendly. He was invisible for 45 minutes, before mercifully (for us, anyway) being subbed off at the half. He’ll continue getting looks but has done little to convince fans that he can be a long term contributor.
7. Sacha Kljestan: Anderlecht to New York Red Bulls
After a very successful run at Anderlecht, Kljestan returns to MLS with the Red Bulls. An incredibly talented midfielder, he was never able to make his mark with the national team. Unfortunately for him, Klinsmann appears to have moved on, and we have not seen Kljestan wear the national team’s jersey in almost a year. It might take some scintillating form from the midfielder to witness that again.
8. Chris Klute: Colorado Rapids to Columbus Crew
The 24-year-old Klute burst on the MLS scene in 2013, becoming one of the best fullbacks in MLS and earning a Camp Cupcake look. In 2014 he regressed badly, and ended up on the outside looking in during the January camp. He’s athletic enough to be a USMNT regular, and learning from Michael Parkhurst at Columbus should help make 2015 a bounce back season.
9. Tally Hall: Houston Dynamo to Orlando City
Hall is one of the better keepers in MLS, and will receive a ton of attention for Orlando City during their inaugural season. He’s been called into several camps, but has yet to debut for the senior squad.
10. Oguchi Onyewu: Charlton Athletic (Free Agent Signing)
Gooch continues to apply his trade in the English second division. His days with the national team surely over, his inclusion is entirely out of respect for his past work with the Yanks.
Best of the Rest:
- Eric Alexander: New York Red Bulls to Montreal Impact
- Robbie Findley: Real Salt Lake to Toronto FC
- Michael Harrington: Portland Timbers to Colorado Rapids
- Amobi Okugo: Philadelphia Union to Orlando City
- Heath Pearce: Montreal Impact to IFK Göteborg
- Troy Perkins: Montreal Impact to Seattle Sounders
- Christian Pulisic: (youth signing) Borussia Dortmund
- AJ Soares: New England Revolution to Viking FK
- Zach Steffen: (youth signing) SC Freiburg
- Tony Taylor: New England Revolution to New York City FC
- Marvell Wynne: Colorado Rapids to San Jose Earthquakes
- Sal Zizzo: Sporting Kansas CIty to New York Red Bulls
Notable Free Agents
- Benji Joya: Training with Colorado Rapids
- Freddy Adu: Promoting Nightclub Events