The U.S. Men’s National Team is back in action again this week, taking on Colombia on Friday and Ireland on Tuesday. After a successful(ish) World Cup under Jurgen Klinsmann, there are more opportunities open to U.S. Internationals than ever before. We saw the high profile signing of DeAndre Yedlin by Tottenham in the months after Brazil. Of course, we also saw Matt Besler and Graham Zusi decide to stick around with Sporting KC in MLS.
There are also a handful of players whose career trajectories are unlikely to take them anywhere near the sunshine state. Guys like Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, and Aron Johannsson are just beginning careers in Europe, and would be unlikely to jump to MLS, despite Diskerud’s flirtation with Columbus.
Still, there are a number of players in the USMNT pool whose futures remain undecided. Enter Orlando City SC, the deep-pocketed MLS newcomer still holding two Designated Player slots for 2015. With the two U.S. friendlies coming up, who are the top five players that might conceivably be available for Orlando City to consider?
5. Geoff Cameron – Age: 29 – Defender – Stoke City
Cameron would be an incredible addition to the Orlando roster, however he’s low on this list solely due to the unlikelihood of it happening. City is in desperate need of a veteran at defensive midfield and center back, and he plays both positions arguably as well as any American alive.
Maybe too well. He’s a regular contributor for perennial mid-table Stoke in the English Premier League, and has certainly made an impression. That said, he’s been deployed most often at right fullback there, a position both he and Jurgen Klinsmann think is not his best. More so than anyone else on this list, Cameron has nearly unlimited options. That said, it is clear that Stoke is not the perfect situation for him, and if the money’s right he may consider a move back to MLS in his prime a la Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley.
4. Eddie Johnson – Age: 30 – Forward – D.C. United
I know, you’ve heard this one from me before. Still, it has to be said again: Eddie Johnson is a perfect fit for coach Adrian Heath’s system, and he’s a Florida native to boot. Orlando fans will tell you they want Jozy Altidore, but EJ gives you almost the same talent level for $6-7 million less per year. You could literally pay the entire rest of the team (minus Kaka) with the money you would save signing Johnson over Altidore. In fact, I believe Johnson is faster and better in the air, traits which Kaka will definitely appreciate.
As I’ve said before, I fully expect Eddie to be available in the expansion draft, and I think Orlando City has to consider him.
3. Jonathan Spector – Age: 28 – Defender – Birmingham City
Here’s an interesting pick for you. Might the former Manchester United signing consider a return to the States? Similar to Cameron, he’s a versatile veteran who could be useful to Orlando anywhere on the back line or at defensive mid. While we may need his skills more centrally, he’s a technically gifted defender who could be a great mentor to young Tyler Turner on the right.
He went down for the rest of the year with a hamstring tear on the first weekend of October, and it seems clear that the physicality of the English Championship might be too much for the oft-injured Spector. Perhaps Birmingham City would be willing to part ways with the defender for a minimal transfer before his contract ends in 2015?
2. Andrew Wooten – Age: 25 – Forward – SV Sandhausen
Here’s a name that might be familiar to only the most die-hard USMNT fans. The powerful German-American target forward has long been on the U.S. radar, but he’s simply always been behind the likes of Altidore, Teal Bunbury, Terrence Boyd, and Eddie Johnson. That said, he’s expressed an interest in playing in the U.S. on multiple occasions, telling Yanks-Abroad.com,
“I’d rather play for the United States [than Germany].”
“I have not had any contacts about him from America, but he is very open to the possibility of playing in MLS.”
At 25 and still in the German second division, he may have reached the point in his career where Bundesliga or EPL dreams are nearing their end. That said, he’s still young enough that he could have a long and prosperous career for the right club. Orlando City fans aren’t the type to want the ‘one and done’ players who are only looking to use OCSC as a springboard to a bigger league. Wooten might be a guy who could spend a career in Orlando.
1. Dax McCarty – Age: 27 – Central Midfielder – New York Red Bulls
That’s right, Dax McCarty of NYRB. Obviously, this hinges on New York leaving him unprotected for the expansion draft or making him available via trade. It seems unlikely on the surface, but who can say with NYRB right now? With Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill likely out the door, they may look to drop veterans in favor of rebuilding with youth.
Regardless, McCarty would be a great fit in a central midfield role for City. He plays like a wily veteran, but he’s still only 27 years old. He’s smarter on the ball and distributes better than most American CDM’s, which attacking midfielder Kaka would surely appreciate. Interestingly, he’s already been selected in an expansion draft before, moving from Dallas to Portland in 2010. The cherry on top? McCarty was born and raised in Winter Park, just north of Orlando!
What are your thoughts? Who from the USMNT player pool would you most like to see join Orlando City SC?