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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.