Thoughts on MLS Moves Abroad

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Landon Donovan’s spectacular first goal for Everton, yesterday confirmed what those of us in the United States already knew: Donovan is a world class player who is one of the top international footballers around.

Donovan’s move to Everton, however is not permanent. In March, one of the top players anywhere on the globe returns stateside to pursue glory with the Los Angeles Galaxy. Donovan’s contract extension with MLS, means that one of the top world footballers is contractually tied to our domestic first division for the next several years.

But unlike Donovan, several other MLS players of note who are out of contract opted to forgo resigning in the league, and are pursuing their career abroad.

Stuart Holden’s move to Bolton Wanderers could be a very good one. Bolton has spent ten of the previous twelve seasons in the top flight of English football, and Manager Owen Coyle is an attack minded manager who prefers free flowing football. However, Coyle’s bungled move (public relations wise) from Burnley to a local rival Bolton, has put a firm target on the back of his new club. The two towns are less than twenty miles apart and have shared a traditional Lancashire rivalry that is now even more intense. (Bolton is now within the borders of a new prefect, Greater Manchester, but is traditionally and spiritually part of Lancashire.)

Holden will thus be expected to play a key role from the outset. Wanderers have a set of players signed by previous manager Gary Megson, Sam Allardyce and Sammy Lee that were brought in to play a more plotting and methodical style of football. Holden, is literally the first player identified and signed by Coyle at Bolton that fits the new manager’s style.

Ricardo Clark has also made a highly ambitious move to Eintracht Frankfurt, who have been this season’s surprise Bundesliga package. The side, from arguably the most Americanized city in Continental Europe, is currently sitting seventh in the league with a real opportunity to qualify for next season’s Europa League. If Clark can break into the Eintracht team and play regularly, he should be considered an automatic starter for the United States in this summer’s World Cup.

Clark is the latest American to move to the Bundesliga. Since the early 1990s, the league has provided more opportunity for top USMNT players than any other elite European league. Clark will compete against Michael Bradley, Steve Cherundolo and several other Americans in the Bundesliga and domestic cup competitions.

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  1. Brandon January 28, 2010
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