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USMNT fullback Sam Vines completes transfer to Royal Antwerp


Sam Vines is enjoying a dream start to his month of August, starting out with helping the U.S. men’s national team win the Gold Cup, and now with the securing of his transfer to Belgian side Royal Antwerp.

The Colorado Rapids announced the completion of the sale of the 22-year-old fullback for a reported fee of $2.1 million.

Vines is coming off an impressive at the Concacaf Gold Cup, where he started in four of the USMNT’s six matches, and played in the final victory against Mexico.

A homegrown player who came up through the Rapids academy, Vines was in his third season with the Rapids, having played 53 matches for the club.

Vines had established himself as one of the better left backs in MLS, earning a place on the U.S. Under-23 men’s national team for Olympic qualifying after making his USMNT debut.

The recent Gold Cup triumph helped showcase how far Vines has come as a player, as he scored the winning goal for the USMNT in its Gold Cup-opening win against Haiti, and played key starting roles in wins against Canada, Jamaica and Qatar.

Vines is one of several members of the Gold Cup-winning USMNT side who could make transfer moves, with Gianluca Busio’s transfer to Serie A side Venezia expected to be complete, and fellow left back George Bello heavily linked to a move to Turkish side Galatasaray. Matthew Hoppe is also expected to make a move away from newly-relegated German side Schalke, with multiple English clubs linked to Hoppe’s services.

Vines joins a Royal Antwerp side that finished in second place in the Belgian league last season, and will be competing in the UEFA Europa League.

The sale leaves a void in the Rapids lineup, but the club is reportedly prepared to complete the acquisition of Brazilian fullback Lucas Esteves.

The Rapids return to action on Saturday at home against Sporting Kansas City.


  1. royal antwerp started the season very slowly so i would follow whether they revert to european level form or if the team now sucks.

  2. I think you now have in-demand talent meeting decreased bias. To undercut some of the hagiography going on here, it’s not necessarily that Europe are personnel geniuses, we won both those tournaments, and that probably makes it easier to “see” the quality and have the scouts sell it upstairs to management and ownership. I think bias has decreased but we were still as much of a talented bunch when we were second best to start the cycle. But they weren’t as excited, no?

    • I think it’s more a combination of success from individuals that have gone before and relative low price of MLS players. If you look at last Summer you had Cannon, then Jan you had Aaronson, McKenzie, Dike, Reynolds, Morris, Arriola, Che, and Servania all had loans or moves to Europe while Euro vets like Miazga, McKennie, Adams, Durkin, EPB, Reyna, Pulisic all have good seasons all of that happened before winning NL or GC. The Vines deal has been in the works since before the GC as has Busio’s so I’m not sure how impactful it is in those deals. The impact it has on the Fifa Ranking would make work permit attainment easier in England though. If the US is in fact in the Top 10 as has been reported a player would only need to have played in 30% of US matches to auto qualify and any regular in MLS playing as low as 10% of US matches would qualify. Meaning someone like James Sands wouldn’t have qualified for an English work permit but does now not because of elimination of basis but because of improved Fifa Rankings.

      • i also think the reality is that players like turner, horvath, moore, hoppe, vines, robinson, and others had been in witness protection under this coach and were finally given a chance. if you are played in some game other than a january camp blowout you can benefit from the NT association and they can have several tense close games to evaluate you.
        if the A team gets all the minutes and you only play sister mary of the blind academy in a 7-0 game it’s hard to (a) make a A team case or (b) sell yourself abroad as someone who can handle tough soccer.

        the work permit/rankings argument begs the question. there were people who thought the haiti bunch — the A team holdovers — were our best chance at preserving and improving ranking. the tournament was basically an exercise in seeing how using the kids can make us better — which by extension gets your cynical ranking points. the route to rank is winning. y’all are confused about how to actually win. a running theme of US soccer for years has been pretending like old guard sucky lineups are our best shot when they often were the doom of that tournament.

  3. Wow. I dunno if MLS is making any sort of case for itself as an elite league, but it is DEFINITELY making a case for itself as an elite launch pad selling league now because it is producing players left and right and everybody is starting to buy them. Whatever stigma there used to be about buying American players is long gone.
    Honestly, I’m fine with that. If MLS is to serve as a league for American players on their way up and their way back down, and elite Euro players looking to play a last couple of seasons, hey, that’s awesome, especially if it puts the USA in the Top-10 and puts us in contention for a World Cup in my lifetime. Isn’t that specifically what we asked MLS to do? They seem to be delivering on that and then some. But I do think MLS’s quality will continue to keep climbing on up the longer this continues anyhow…what’s stopping it?

    • Don’t forget about the investment in SA players like Almiron & ya boi Josef!! I had the same sentiment when I realized there were more players playing in Belgium then Liga MX. 10 years ago, Sacha Kleijstan was the notable US name. With Busio signing to Serie A, and possibly more, Americans will have more players playing in Italy than Mexico. JR and I had discussion, his point of view was Liga Mx has a domestic rule, where they have a certain number of domestic homegrown players on the roster. I don’t disagree, that they have that rule. My opinion was European leagues had look down or had a stigma about American players. Def don’t have to worry about that anymore!!

  4. Good for Sam! I hope he finds somebody in Belgium who can help him groom his face in a way that makes him look less like a mid-tier TV villain.

  5. I think he is very promising. One thought that has come to me is that with the growing number of sales to Europe, MLS perhaps should reconfigure their arrangement. I don’t know all the ins and outs of the club/league arrangement, but it seems to me that the league has too much say over sale price and distribution of that sale price. Especially if a player is home grown, the selling price should go to the selling club. Also, the salary cap should be raised or done away with, or revised to make arrangements for extra income from selling their playe3rs. In short, if a club develops a player from the get go and they become good enough to play in Europe, the the club should reap all the benefits and be able to spend it on more or better players, regardless of the salary cap.

    • Clubs do receive all the money from transfers of homegrown players like Vines and Busio (it is now 95% of other sales instead of the old 75%). There are still limits on how much of that profit you can spend on salary but I couldn’t find a clear answer if that applies to homegrowns too. Where restrictions still hurt is you can’t take Busio’s 6 million and buy 4 players at 1.5 million or in SKC’s case you can’t take that 6 million and sign a veteran DM for 6 million because they wouldn’t have a DP roster slot.

      • Thanks for the info. I think the restriction on using the money for new players is holding MLS back. I like the recent trend of picking up young South American players early and developing them and improving clubs. Having that salary/income flexibility could really advance the quality of the league IMO.

    • I think you can use at least some of the transfer money as allocation money to offset your cap hits or pay down your DP contracts but it’s not like in other leagues. I’m not sure it’s always good for US youth though with all the SA players being brought in. Take FCD they’ve brought in a bunch of SA players that have not produced and took minutes from Pomykal, Ferreira, and Pepi. Now that Luchi has put those three back in the starting lineup surprise surprise FCD is good and transfer rumors are swirling around Pepi and Pomykal again.

  6. Vines really got my respect during the Gold Cup. He had some real solid games. Much respect to him and his journey in a new country


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