By Jon Levy, writing from Gainesville, FL
Congratulations Yanks readers, you’ve made it. We’ve made it. The silly season is over. Deep pockets, cash strapped owners, and media speculation can once again take a back seat to the beautiful game itself. Being played on grass. With a ball. And nets.
But what about our USMNT heroes, most of whom are settling into their temporary new homes as I write this. How did they do for themselves (and our rooting interests) in the transfer window? Well I’ll tell you. It’s time to unveil the January 2011 TYAC Transaction Ratings! These ratings will take player development along with USMNT fan interests into account, so no yapping at me if you’re a pissed off Borussia Mönchengladbach fan.
Michael Bradley (loaned from Borussia Mönchengladbach to Aston Villa): TYAC Transaction Rating – 7
MB90 will be donning the claret and blue in Birmingham for Aston Villa for the remainder of the 2010-2011 campaign. This is a step up in both league and team for the midfielder, and as an added bonus we’ll now have plenty of opportunities to watch him play on American TV! Jeff Carlisle’s article does a good job addressing another move upward for the USMNT mainstay. I’d have rated this transfer even higher if it was a permanent move and if the Villa midfield wasn’t so crowded. Junior will have to compete for time on the Villains, but he’ll love that, and will probably win those battles against Reo Coker at least. More concerning however, is the temporary nature of the move. If Bradley doesn’t impress sufficiently he could be shipped back to a team that will probably be playing in the German second division. Not cool.
Jermaine Jones (loaned from Schalke 04 to Blackburn Rovers): TYAC Transaction Rating – 6.5
Like Bradley, Jones completed a loan move from the Bundesliga to the EPL (and my TV!), but conventional wisdom would say that he’s not taking a step up in club team. I have to phrase it that way because Schalke, who play in Europe, are sitting in the bottom half of the German league table. Meanwhile Blackburn, who pretty much never play in Europe, are hanging out in eighth place in England and feelin’ good, feelin’ great. New manager Steve Kean has already applauded our boy Germany Jones, and things look pretty good in Lancashire… which usually means they’re about to take a turn for the worse. I don’t mean to be too fatalistic, but if Jones can stay healthy and on the pitch, and the Rovers can maintain their current run of form… let’s just say I’ll be happily surprised. For now I’m just glad Jermaine’s on a pitch and playing for a manager who doesn’t hate him.
Jozy Altidore (loaned from Villareal to Bursaspor): TYAC Transaction Rating – 5
So much for good Copa del Rey form. Jozy was a house of fire in early season cup matches, but those performances didn’t translate into many chances in La Liga with Villareal. Now he’s off to Turkey and Bursaspor. The Turkish club was light on strikers going into the transfer window, so they shored up the position by adding Rangers’ goal-scoring machine Kenny Miller and snatching Jozy on loan. Here’s hoping they have him in mind as a compliment to Miller and not a backup, otherwise he’s in the same situation he was in, but on a worse team playing against lesser opposition, and without getting to eat delicious tapas every day.
Oguchi Onyewu (loaned from AC Milan to FC Twente): TYAC Transaction Rating – 6
This move looks awesome at first glance doesn’t it? Theoretically it is. Gooch had to get out of Milan where he wasn’t even making the match day squad, and Twente, while no AC Milan, are a good team in a pretty good league. The thought was that Onyewu would slot right into the central defensive pairing and revive his career. It hasn’t exactly gone that way thus far. He’s played twice for Twente, but he played left back. And to complicate matters further, he injured his back in his second appearance. He’ll be back soon, but that’s hardly the ideal way to begin a potentially career saving loan to a quality club.
Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake to Nottingham Forest, signed as free agent): TYAC Transaction Rating – 7
From a USMNT fan’s point of view, this is the perfect move for Robbie. We all know he can score in the MLS, but he’s in trouble on the international level. I’m not reading any, “Bunbury and Agudelo: Not As Good As Findley” articles lately, are you? This move gives Robbie a chance to prove himself in England and force himself back into Bob Bradley’s reckoning if he plays well enough to say, help this team get promoted to the Premier League. Be honest, you’ve already written Robbie Findley off, and no amount of MLS accolades from him will turn your head anymore. Success in England might just do the trick though.
Freddy Adu (loaned from Benfica toe Rizespor): TYAC Transaction Rating – 6?
I don’t know who Rizespor are and I really don’t care. Apparently they play in the Turkish second division. Wonderful. Freddy needs games. He got them at Aris last year and did well, but he still can’t sniff the pitch with Benfica. I’m not sure they even let him train with the team. I’ve got to assume he’ll get games with Rizespor though, and that’s way better than The Nothing from The NeverEnding Story devouring more of his fledgling career.
Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy to FC Ingolstadt 04): TYAC Transaction Rating – 4.5
This move is a step down in pretty much every way for a forward who had only recently begun to assert his dominance in the MLS. For Robbie Findley’s case, one can argue that the English second division is about as good as the MLS; that same argument cannot be made about the German second division. Thankfully Edson scored on his debut with Ingolstadt, but even if he helps save the club from relegation to Third Bundesliga (or whatever they call the next league down), I struggle to see what this move away from Major League Soccer’s most internationally known club does for Buddle. Wouldn’t Beckham’s team serve as a better showcase for his talents than Ingolstadt?
Brad Guzan (loaned from Aston Villa to Hull City) – 6.5
What a difference a year makes. Remember when Guzan was Aston Villa’s penalty saving Carling Cup hero? Well a run of poor form spanning the end of last season and the beginning of this one has Villa scouring the earth for the next successor to “Broke as a Joke” Brad Friedel. Guzan’s been given a chance to prove himself on an every match basis in English football though, so a loan at Hull may help him prove his worth to Villa, Hull, or another English team. Up to this point, Guzan has played five games for Hull, keeping one clean sheet, but, disturbingly, not scoring any goals. He’s no Ron Hextall.
Most Encouraging Non-mover: Eric Lichaj
Lichaj edges Jonathan Spector for most encouraging non-mover. While Spector has finally settled into his oft-starting midfield role at West Ham, Lichaj continues to be a big part of near-future plans for Gerard Houllier at Villa. Why else wouldn’t you loan out a young player like him? Lichaj’s big chance is close at hand in Birmingham, and possibly even closer at hand with the USMNT.
Least Encouraging Non-mover: Benny Feilhaber
Why is Benny still in the Danish second tier? Remember how he looked going forward as a super-sub in multiple World Cup matches this summer? Where’s that guy? Feilhaber’s Wikipedia page says he gained significant respect from Aarhus fans with his professional attitude late in 2010. That’s great, but he should respectfully hand in a transfer request and make a million or so Euros for the Danish club on a transfer to a team in the top league in almost country on the continent.
Jon Levy is associate editor and co-founder of The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter at @TYAC_Jon.