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Bobby Wood, Fabian Johnson and the Americans Abroad who should consider a move to MLS

Bobby Wood’s reported move to FC Cincinnati would mark the latest example of an American player moving to Major League Soccer from abroad in search of a career boost, but he shouldn’t be the only American to consider leaving a foreign league for an MLS move this winter.

Wood’s potential move away from Hamburg has been needed for some time, but his large contract with the German club — which sources tell SBI was paying him $3 million a year — made finding a reasonable move difficult. There was MLS interest in Wood in 2019 — with the Portland Timbers being one of the teams to express some interest — but ultimately Wood wasn’t interested in taking the necessary paycut to make such a move a possibility.

Hamburg is ready to cut ties with Wood, and it is unclear whether Wood is willing to leave money on the table in order to facilitate his early exit, or if Hamburg is simply going to pay him off to get him out of town. What is clear is Wood should be considering MLS for a career revival, whether it’s with FC Cincinnati or some other team in need of a striker.

You need only look to the 2019 season, and the successful MLS moves made by Keaton Parks and Emerson Hyndman, for evidence of what a pivot away from Europe to a good MLS situation can do. Both Parks and Hyndman enjoyed successful loan spells, and earned permanent transfers.

Who are some of the Americans who could be part of the next wave to move to MLS in 2020? Here are some candidates to consider:

Bobby Wood

The 27-year-old striker is in desperate need of a move away from Hamburg, but his big salary continues to make a move difficult. FC Cincinnati makes plenty of sense as a destination, but there are several other teams that could benefit from adding the former USMNT striker.

Fabian Johnson

The 32-year-old made his first Bundesliga start since September last weekend for Borussia Moenchengladbach, but even if he starts earning regular minutes again, a move to MLS would be a good one for the versatile former USMNT standout.

Johnson has been linked to MLS before, with FC Cincinnati previously mentioned as an interested team.

Aron Johannsson

The 2014 USMNT World Cup striker has had a rough stretch in his career due to injuries, and is now in Sweden with Hammarby, where he is struggling for regular playing time.

Would there be much of a market for a 29-year-old who hasn’t played much in recent years? There should be.

Danny Williams

The 30-year-old midfielder made a surprising move to Cyprus, joining Pafos after an injury-hit stint at Huddersfield Town. It wasn’t too long ago that Williams was a standout for League Championship side Reading, so a team in need of an athletic defensive midfielder could do much worse than signing him as a TAM player.

Rubio Rubin

The former U.S. Under-20 World Cup standout has fallen off the radar a bit since joining Liga Asencio side Dorados on loan from Club Tijuana, but he has been playing regularly and remains a very enticing prospect. The 23-year-old striker came close to an MLS move two years ago before signing with Xolos, and would be a very attractive transfer target this winter.

Julian Green

Some might be surprised to see him listed here considering how well he has been playing for Gruether Fuerth, and given that he’s still just 24, but it’s worth mentioning him considering he’s out of contract this summer. He is playing well enough to potentially earn a Bundesliga move this summer, but that shouldn’t stop MLS teams from making inquiries. He’s a versatile central midfielder who is eager to push his way back into the USMNT picture, so an MLS move would be preferable to staying in the German second division after the current season.

Luca De La Torre

The 21-year-old has broken through at Fulham and started to have a regular place on the first team’s bench, but minutes are still eluding him, so he should consider an MLS move. He was linked to the New England Revolution in 2019, but that was when Brad Friedel was in charge.

Matt Polster

The former Chicago Fire left back earned his first Scottish Premier League start of the current season with Rangers last weekend, so perhaps things are improving for him with the Scottish giants. If they aren’t, Polster would surely attract a boatload of attention from teams attracted to his versatility, and the 26-year-old’s experience in MLS.

Haji Wright

The 21-year-old striker was a regular starter for Dutch side Venlo in the first half of the season, but couldn’t find the net and has since lost his starting job. It would feel premature for Venlo to cut ties with Wright so soon after signing him, but if Wright decides he needs another change of scenery, there would surely be some MLS teams that would open the door for him.


  1. Of the list of players referenced in this article there 4 that have a slim chance of being part of the USMNT pool come 2022…
    Wood – Strictly because we are so thin at striker & Jozy is always injured. He needs to be playing somewhere though.
    De La Torre – A promising player when with USYNTs….but needs 1st team minutes somewhere if he wants to get to the Sr. USMNT. If that means a loan to MLS fine, but I don’t want him sold to MLS yet.
    Wright – Another player strictly because of the lack of strikers.
    Green – Needs a step up from B2 since Berhaulter clearly ranks MLS’s Roldan above a solid contributor in B-2.

    The rest of them on this list I don’t think it matters. They’re all older players who have either been overtaken by younger options or have been injured so often/long that if they want to extend their career it wouldn’t hurt them to come to MLS if there is interest. Either way their USMNT chances are none existent.

  2. I don’t know anything, but here goes. Europe is cutthroat. No guarantees week to week for many players. Deep rosters, up and coming players. MLS may allow a good player like Hyndman or Parks to mature and even to lead a bit more because there is less pressure and more trust. The other side of that coin is complacency, but I think it’s all about timing when a player returns to MLS, and about how much that player wants to push himself. Bobby Wood, for example, may want to become a top scorer in MLS, whereas in Germany he is one more player just trying to help his team week to week. Josie’s move was good because he didn’t have to go 100 percent every second just to earn a spot. He could dominate games in MLS, and refine his skills in doing so. I don’t know. Maybe MLS is more competitive than I give it credit, but I’ve seen a lot of games, and, well, no. But it’s a good league, even though it’s not Europe. But success for a player is hard to pin down. I guess that’s what makes these moves somewhat intriguing/debatable. Sorry to ramble. Not an easy issue.

  3. I’m done arguing that Americans should just give up and come to MLS. MLS is not a talented league and the best players need to be in Europe. But again, I’m done arguing it. Let everyone just come back to MLS. See how that works out for the national team. Just happen already so we can stop talking about it

  4. I quite frankly don’t see many of these guys making it to a Nat team in the world cup, which is fine, the Whiners need something.
    MLS teams wanting them. Maybe? Take a chance on youngsters that are having trouble finding the field in second division? I wouldn’t, Outside of BWP, I don’t think that has worked out well at all, or even worked out at all.
    So now some of the seasoned guys, who are making money. Is that a good fit? I think the Sounders are paying Ruidiaz less than Wood. Think about that…would you trade Wood for Rui and pocket $1 million a year…..YES
    The reverse? Not a snowballs chance…

  5. Wow. All this Galarcep love on SBI of late is throwing me. I feel like a feral dog that’s been pet for the first time in a long time.

  6. The main argument (which is also present in article if you read between the lines) is that in order to gain a callup for many of these guys, it’s in their interest to move to MLS. This says more about Berhalter and those running the NATs program than it does about the players skill levels and career stage. Green could light up Bundesliga II, but unless he proves himeself in MLS (even if just for a string of games), then he’ll have shown he’s good enough. And Fabian Johnson, a player that has proven his worth in a top leagues at multiple positions, is mind-boggling that he is considered not good enough to beat out the marginal guys Berhalter calls in. BUT, if comes to MLS and shows he obvious quality amongst guys with inferior technical skills, then now we know he must be good and we can’t just ignore him.

    • With the exception of Green these guys aren’t playing in Europe. That’s why MLS moves are suggested, if they were playing they’d have opportunity.

      • Don’t confuse the issue with facts like “these guys aren’t playing” please, when the poster is thinking the MLS guys, who have inferior skills, wouldn’t make Bundesliga II teams.

    • the main focus of the article is that these guys are moving to the fringe of their euro clubs and if they want more playing time, a move to the MLS could be warranted and their skills would be appreciated.

      i don’t think it matters where a player plays, it matters how they are playing and if they are playing. Just because I might shine Ronaldo’s shoes at Juve and be on the U-23 practice squad doesn’t mean I am a USMNT caliber player.

      • But it’s so much easier to build a team based on who they have a contract with because actually watching soccer matches takes too long and cuts into people’s ability to watch old YouTube highlights.

    • funny you say that because Rossi is actually training with RSL right now and supposedly in contract negotiations with them

      • That is in fact why I brought up Rossi. The RSL workout reminded me of Freddy’s time there. And the growing list of clubs he has played at.

  7. Does this site report to SUM?

    Shouldent our players be in Europe until 2022 World Cup is over? Why rush everyone back to MLS so we can go 3 and out on all out of season MLS players?

    • Pretty sure the point of the article as that most of these guys won’t be on the plane in 2022 if they don’t find a way to get some better exposure/minutes.

    • you clearly don’t have clue…the majority of our starting 11 is from Europe, with bench options from there as well, so this idea that the NT is being soiled with too many MLS players is just false.


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