By FRANCO PANIZO
Clint Dempsey may reportedly be heading back to Fulham in January, but he is far from being the only American who could use a move at the start of the new year.
Several U.S. Men’s National Team pool players are currently in substantially worse club situations than Dempsey – who is expected to be loaned out by the Seattle Sounders in the coming weeks simply to round into form ahead of the 2014 World Cup - and are in need of securing transfers or loans if they want to have any chance of playing in that prestigious tournament next summer. U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said previously that consistent playing time is a key ingredient for players hoping to make it to Brazil and that should raise the urgency of those who are currently stuck in tough situations.
From talented youngsters like Brek Shea and Joe Corona to a World Cup veteran like Maurice Edu, there should be several players weighing their options in the coming weeks. After all, finding consistent and meaningful minutes at the club level in the coming months will essentially be the only way to make a statement to Klinsmann in what will be a World Cup year.
Here is a closer look at the players who need to make a move this winter in order to have a shot at making it onto the plane to Brazil:
Playing time at Stoke City has been hard to come by for the young winger, and he even admitted recently that he needs to find consistent minutes in the near future in order to improve his standing with the U.S. team. Shea somewhat recently made his season debut for the Potters with a 31-minute cameo back in late November, but even that should not be enough to keep him from exploring other alternatives next month.
Edu’s lack of playing time at Stoke City has made him a bit of a forgotten man despite the fact that he is one of few U.S. central midfielders to have previously played in a World Cup. His decision to remain with the Potters this past summer has proven to be the wrong one, as he has been limited to mostly reserve games with the club, and it is hard at this point not to see Edu switching addresses in the coming weeks.
Onyewu may have just recently joined Queens Park Rangers, but it was revealed recently that his contract runs through the end of January. If Onyewu continues to sit on the bench and not play, expect him to look for yet another club as he tries to convince Klinsmann that he is the type of veteran presence that the American back line needs ahead of its tough World Cup group games against Ghana, Portugal and Germany. His status as a free agent will surely help if it comes down to it.
With the right back situation still seemingly unsettled six months out from the World Cup, Parkhurst could throw his name right back into the conversation if he secures a move away from FC Augsburg. Parkhurst has yet to dress in a single league match for the German club this season, and is in dire need of a move. The veteran nearly managed to do so in the summer, but was unable to find an ideal situation. Expect that to change in January.
One of the bright stars of the 2013 Gold Cup, Corona has seen his U.S. stock fall immensely over the past six months. He has fallen behind others at Club Tijuana and is struggling to receive the type of playing time that earned him so many looks from Klinsmann earlier this year and in 2012. Corona will need to either regain his starting spot with Xolos quickly or find a new situation stat, because the competition in the U.S. midfield is deep.
Which players do you think have a realistic chance at making the World Cup team if they secure a move this winter? Where should some of these players go? Do you see any of them playing in Brazil next summer?
Share your thoughts below.