The impact of this signing cannot over emphasized. For years and years top European clubs have shown no interest in American field players. Most European oriented American fans (eurosnobs as they are often called) have laughed off any suggestion of an American field player playing for a top European side.
Additionally, after past impressive performances on the world stage the type of clubs that have lined up for American players have not been AC Milan or Real Madrid. They have been the likes of Preston North End, FC Nuremberg, 1860 Munich and Racing Ferrol.
For years American field players have toiled in obscurity or have been the subject of skepticism bordering on ridicule from the European press. Alexi Lalas had a successful stint at Padova but we hear more about his musical tastes than his football in the Italian media. Claudio Reyna was successful in Germany, Scotland and England but we the rap on him was that he got injured too much and didn’t excel at top of the table clubs in big leagues. (Rangers and the SPL in 1999 however, was different than Rangers and the SPL in 2009, I’d remind those who’ve written the post mortem on Reyna’s European club career.)
Often times when forced to name an American field player of impact in Europe, the discussion reverts to John Harkes and his successful English career of the early 1990s. Seemingly ignored are the contributions Jovan Kirovski, Frankie Hejduk, DaMarcus Beasley and John O’Brien made while playing in Champions League matches.
But none of the players I mentioned ever got a sniff at a club as big as AC Milan. Oguchi Onyewu is truly a trailblazer for American players abroad.
Don’t let skeptics tell you this isn’t a big deal. This is a huge day for an American soccer. So huge, that this longtime supporter of the program is shedding tears of joy.
OTHER TRANSFER NEWS
- As reported on this site almost two months ago American midfielder Anton Peterlin of the Ventura County Fusion has been sold to Everton. A USL source confirms for me that the California club will receive some sort of compensation for the player.
- Yura Movisisyan, whom I interviewed last year for CSRN’s American Soccer Show will be moving to Randers FC of Denmark in January. Randers is the former club of Lee Nguyen who starred for the US at the U-20 level and was on the 2007 Copa America squad.