Times have been rough for Americans playing in Europe over the past couple of months. Many have been relegated to cameo appearances off the bench, while others are lucky to make the gameday 18. With uncertainty looming its ugly head, rumors have begun to circulate that several of these yanks may be moving clubs during the January transfer window.
Orlando City already has a strong presence in foreign markets, thanks to a diverse international representation from the current players on the roster. Kaká will bring in a strong Brazilian audience, while Adrian Heath and our two SL Benfica signings should attract attention from the English and Portuguese markets respectively. However, Orlando currently lacks a face to draw interest from the American fans.
With so many yanks likely to be on the move, Orlando City SC should seriously consider moving for one of these unsettled players. Admittedly, several of these players are unrealistic options for the Purple and White, nonetheless, there may just be a future Lion in this mix of Americans.
Within the Realm of Possibility
Brek Shea: Currently on loan at Birmingham City in the English Championship, Brek is in need of a home after a failed Stoke City experiment. A few weeks back it seemed likely that the ex-FC Dallas winger’s loan deal would evolve into a permanent transfer. However, the Birmingham manager who brought Shea over was recently sacked, leaving the American’s future cloudier than ever.
Heath is already familiar with the Texas native, given that Shea trained with Orlando City prior to Stoke City’s preseason this summer. In a June interview with MLSSoccer.com, Heath hinted that Shea might be an option for the Lions down the road saying:
“I would be lying if I didn’t think it gives us a great opportunity at looking at a player that over the next few years might want to come back to MLS. The fact that we have a relation with him would stand us in good stead down the road if it did get to that stage.”
Oguchi Onyewu: Despite being out of the National Team picture for quite some time now, Onyewu is a World Cup veteran overflowing with experience. Gooch is currently on a short term deal with Charlton Athletic that expires in January. At that time, the towering 6-foot-4 central defender could again be a free agent. An Onyewu acquisition would bring experience and leadership to the Orlando back line, while also providing a mentor for the young American defenders in the Lions’ ranks.
Mix Diskerud: Mix played his final game with Norwegian club Rosenberg BK this weekend and will draw the attention of many suitors in January. While he will most likely make the jump to a bigger and better league with some help from Jurgen Klinsmann, he has shown brief interest in joining Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley in MLS. During the summer window, Columbus Crew seemed to have a deal for the promising American midfielder all wrapped up, but circumstances caused the transfer to fall apart.
Klinsmann will want Mix to push himself at the highest level, so seeing the long-haired playmaker in a purple jersey come March is unlikely. However, the Norwegian-American will be available in January and both his talent and personality would be a welcome sight in Orlando.
Sacha Kljestan: Rumors of a MLS return have surrounded Sacha Kljestan for some time now. While L.A. is the usual destination in the rumor mill, Orlando will be looking for a high profile American face on their roster and Kljestan is an MLS veteran with Champions League experience. He seems to have worked his way back into the starting XI with his club, so his club situation is not nearly as bleak as it was during the summer window. Sacha may have his eyes and ears open for offers but he is the least likely to leave his club in my list.
Juan Agudelo: Now here is an interesting situation. Juan Agudelo has been a free agent for months after failing to land a work permit with Stoke City. The 21-year-old is an impressive talent and would be a dream player for Orlando City fans. Like Shea, Agudelo trained with the Lions and would already be familiar with Adrian Heath and many of the players. Unfortunately, the forward seems to have his mind set on playing in Europe. If things don’t work out abroad and a return to MLS materializes, Orlando would be among the shortlist for likely destinations for the young forward.
One Can Dream Right?
Jozy Altidore: America’s number one striker is currently lucky to see double digit minutes with Sunderland of the English Premier League. Jozy has made it clear that if things do not change fast he will be making an exit in January. While we would all love to see him back in MLS, Altidore is likely to take Klinsmann’s advice and continue to push himself at the highest possible level. According to rumors, Lille in France’s League 1 seems to be his most likely destination, but claims that some MLS teams have inquired about Jozy have caught wind.