US soccer players such as Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron and Stuart Holden often monopolize most of the headlines when it comes to discussing American stars playing in Europe. But there are many other footballers who are overlooked that are plying their trade overseas.
Here are 5 young Americans to watch out for that are playing in Europe in the 2014/15 season:
1. Emerson Hyndman (18, Fulham): Having recently made his first first-team debut at London-based Fulham, Hyndman is already turning heads in England and back in the States. Continuing the tradition of American players at Fulham, Hyndman could be the next Eddie Lewis or Clint Dempsey. The youngster might not be a flashy forward or attacking midfielder, but he already commands his role in central midfield with class and precision. His pass completion rate in recent matches for the club is drawing attention from all the right places, and should play a key role in Fulham’s push for a Premier League return.
2. Cody Cropper (21, Southampton): Minnesota-born goalkeeper Cropper recently inked a new one-year deal with the Premier League club, after England goalkeeping coach Dave Watson joined Southampton and immediately sought to tie down the young American. Cropper was called up a couple times by Jurgen Klinsmann for friendlies last year, but he has yet to earn his first full international cap for the USMNT. While he likely won’t be new Southampton manager Ronald Koeman’s choice to start in goal, Cropper has likely locked a place down on the bench this season. The management at Southampton obviously know of the American’s talent, and Cropper will be breathing down the neck of main ‘keeper Artur Boruc all season, hoping to leapfrog him into the starting XI.
3. Julian Green (19, Bayern Munich): Green isn’t much of a hidden talent anymore, after making headlines with his inclusion in Jurgen Klinsmann’s Brazil 2014 squad, but Green still has a ways to go to become a USMNT regular. It’s not easy breaking into a senior squad at a club like Bayern Munich, competing with players like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller, and World Cup Final-winning goalscorer Mario Gotze. Green’s few minutes in Brazil for the US showed his brilliant talent, culminating in his scoring of the team’s only goal (a sensational volley) in the Round of 16 match against Belgium. Pep Guardiola hasn’t ruled out a loan move for the midfielder for the 2014-15 season; first-team action elsewhere would surely benefit Green in the right situation, but the hope for USA fans is that it won’t be long before he’s deemed good enough to start for one of the world’s biggest, most storied clubs.
4. Will Packwood (21, Birmingham City): A commanding but quick player, Packwood has experience in central midfield and both sides at fullback, but is at his best (thanks to his 6’ 2” frame) at the heart of defense. Ever since making his debut as a teenager for the Midlands club, there have been rumblings of an imminent call-up to the US national team, but injury has kept him from showing his best form in the last year. Birmingham City is a club that has yo-yo’d between the Championship and Premier League for years, and Packwood could play a key role in central defense for this year’s promotion battle. If the club does return to the Premier League next season and Packwood retains his starting role, he could play his way into Jurgen Klinsmann’s 2018 World Cup qualifying squad.
5. Rubio Rubin (18, FC Utrecht): Considered the best American teenage prospect right now by American Soccer Now’s Brian Sciaretta, the Oregon native and former Timbers academy player could make a huge splash in the Eredivisie this season. Rubin will be hoping to be the next American goalscoring sensation in the Netherlands, a role played by Jozy Altidore and Aron Johannsson at AZ Alkmaar in recent seasons. Rated highly by his coaches at Utrecht and at US youth international levels, Rubin is in the right place at the right time for his development, now all he has to do is score goals.