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Benfica acquires USMNT prospect Josh Wynder


Josh Wynder will become the latest U.S. men’s national team prospect to make his move to Europe this summer.

Wynder has joined Portuguese club Benfica on a permanent deal from USL Championship side Louisville City FC, the clubs announced. The deal marks the first-ever seven-figure transfer fee ($1.2 million reported transfer fee) for a USL player in league history.

Wynder can officially register as a Benfica player this July once the summer transfer window opens.

“I’m very grateful to Louisville City for everything the club has done for me,” Wynder said. “It’s a dream come true to sign with Benfica, and I can’t wait to get started there. Although my career’s taking me overseas, I’ll always be proud of where I’m from and represent Louisville to the best of my ability.”

Wynder has totaled 45 combined appearances for Louisville City FC, scoring two goals and also featuring in the U.S. Open Cup. He was a finalist for U.S. Soccer’s 2022 Young Male Player of the Year award and also earned his first senior U.S. men’s national team call up in March.

He started four matches for Mikey Varas’ USMNT U-20 side at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina.

“This is a proud moment for Louisville City, our youth academy and our community,” said coach Danny Cruz. “We are going to miss seeing Josh in the locker room each day, but I could not be more proud of the path that he is on in his career. The type of person he is continues to stand out to me, and we look forward to watching him reach new heights to also become the best player he can be.

“We at Louisville City are committed to the progression of our academy players into the first team while maintaining the highest standard of winning,” Cruz added. “When I look at the alignment we have from ownership throughout the entire club, I firmly believe that we will continue to see talented young players emerge here.”

Benfica last month won its record 38th title in the Primera Liga. Wynder follows former Louisville City defender Jonathan Gomez, who joined Real Sociedad in January 2022.


    • sounds cute except if you step back he’s trying a short cut to a high finish he might not be ready for, which likely results in either being stuck B team or loaned out down the pecking order. there is a list of adu ibeagha miazga people who tried this short cut and are retired or MLS journeymen or rebooting now. how is that improving “how you finish?” to me the most consistently successful americans abroad are guys like dempsey or mcbride who start slow and finish strong. pay their dues. make a move in their 20s. they finish well because they set themselves up for success.

      ironically if wynder had gone to some hyperserious team to go play age group ball i would take that more seriously. go get schooled in some academy team. go pay your dues. this is a kid transparently saying that from mediocre U20 play he thinks he’s starting benfica first team end of this coming season. he’s deluded. part of getting to the end well as you suggest is not letting money distort or being deluded.

      and to be clear benfica will sign several like this every year, play the odds some turn out, maybe give you a camp to fight, maybe ship you to B, and just see what happens. they are invested in the process producing a few helpful players. they are not invested in him specifically. or did no one see where jogo sits with sociedad after a year, or how he looked for the U20s.

      • “he’s trying a short cut”

        How is Benfica a short cut?

        “. there is a list of adu ibeagha miazga people who tried this short cut and are retired or MLS journeymen or rebooting now. how is that improving “how you finish?””

        You seem to be under the delusion that Benfica expects the majority of their signings to become top class players. That’s not exactly what is going on here.

        Like any pro team they are signing up as many promising kids as they can hoping to strike gold or at least turn a profit for them. My guess is that Benfica. did enough research on Wynder to feel like they can take a risk on him.

        But they know that a lot of, if not most of, their signings will fail.

        That’s why you have that “list” you refer to. Guess what, it is really, really , really hard to make the first team at a club like Benfica.

        Especially when these people are just not as smart as you, Mr. Voice.

        Most of the guys like Wynder are not your intellectual equal and are going to fail, here or at any top club.

        This is not Benfica University where you can expect the majority to graduate.
        This more like Benfica boot camp, where they plan on separating the wheat from the chaff.

        The reality above a certain level, most clubs are like this.

        This is “professional” football.

        There are different paths from the one Wynder chose. But none of them can guarantee “success” ( however each player defines that)

        And all of them are really hard.

        “to me the most consistently successful americans abroad are guys like dempsey or mcbride who start slow and finish strong. pay their dues. make a move in their 20s. they finish well because they set themselves up for success.”

        Then you are a hypocrite.

        You mock 27 year old Miazga for rebooting now or being an MLS journey man, then you praise McBride who was 30 by the time he started making noise at Fulham. He left Fulham when he was 36 years old.

        If you had been paying attention you would have retired McBride before he got a chance to get going at Fulham, as much as you hate 30 yr old + players.

        That’s Clint and Bake, two guys out of how many?

        That’s not even a trend.

        Those two are outliers.

  1. ibeagha had a similar squabble with houston, went to college (before the USL trend) and played in denmark and iceland, “i will show them.” he ended up signing here then back in USL for a few years before finding his feet age 26.

    the gitaus here in houston were hot U17 stuff and then took off after some sort of squabble with HD after andre played preseason here and impressed and scored a goal but weren’t made a good offer. i liked the kid. but he has now basically disappeared off the radar and has been dropped off US U17.

    at a point it gets a bit self defeating. gomez is on a B team after USL. wynder is ticketed to a B team after USL. luna ended up in MLS anyway without tenure. none of them looks real polished for the detour. and USL probably pays them less. and gets them a lower fee than MLS. then they get sold anyway. it’s too clever by half.

    • The bottom line is it’s really hard to make it in professional soccer. There is no one best path. It takes talent, hard work, luck, and a good agent and then you still have to worry about preventing injury. Pulisic and Reyna are exceptions, most soccer players in the US and the world aren’t starting on top 5 European league teams when they’re 20.

  2. That’s really interesting…if he actually plays for Benfica anytime soon. The Portuguese league is definitely one of those second-tier leagues like the Netherlands and Brazil that’s generally considered better than MLS but not as good as the Top-5. The caveat to that, though, is that it’s an incredibly lopsided league, and once you get past the top three in Portugal – Benfica, Porto, and Sporting CP – the quality falls off as if from a cliff. Team 5-18 in Portugal are no better than MLS level, and LAFC would be favored to beat all of them. The top three, on the other hand, are all Premier League level in terms of finances, fan support, and player quality. According to SPI Benfica wasn’t just by far and away the best team in Portugal, they would have finished a startling sixth in the Premier League this past year…ahead of teams like Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea, West Ham, and Aston Villa.


    I strongly doubt that an 18-year-old is going to jump straight from Louisville in the USL to getting any kind of significant minutes for a side like that. Transfermarkt has the values of Porto’s roster as high as €40 million (for striker Goncalo Ramos) and the vast majority of their starters are valued at €20+ million…in fact, of the 25 guys on their senior roster, there isn’t a single player worth less than €2 million – and that’s their two backup keepers. (The starting keeper is worth €16 million.)

    After that I see a reserve midfielder 19-year-old midfielder worth €2.5 million and a 35-year-old center back worth €3.00 million…though that guy is Nicolas Otamendi, who started for the Argentina national team that just won the World Cup in Qatar. Everybody else is worth upwards of €5+ million.

    I wish the kid luck and it’s definitely a feather in his cap, but I suspect it’s going to be a minute before he sees any kind of playing time there. €1.2 million is pocket change for Benfica and wouldn’t even put him on the senior roster. He’s almost certainly going to get loaned out.

    • Probably Benfica B. Good thing is they will play young players there if they are good enough. In a round about why we can say John Brooks wasn’t good enough to play for Benfica. Then he went to Hoffenheim where he was better than Justin Che who couldn’t play there. At U20 WC Che was better than Wynder. Obviously a lot of other factors involved but he’s not ready for Benfica’s first team. Long story short it doesn’t seem Wynder will be getting minutes anytime soon. I like Wynder, saw him play in person last year, but it’s a big jump from USL to Portugal. Gomez is still playing for Sociodad B coming from USL. Kobe Henry is playing Reims B. Jose Gallegos is in Danish 2nd division, Diego Luna is a lightly used sub in MLS.

      • Wydner said he’ll start out at Benfica B as you assumed, but his upside is tremendous so it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw him on the bench towards the end of next season

      • JR,

        “In a round about why we can say John Brooks wasn’t good enough to play for Benfica. Then he went to Hoffenheim where he was better than Justin Che who couldn’t play there. At U20 WC Che was better than Wynder. Obviously a lot of other factors involved but he’s not ready for Benfica’s first team.”

        When Chelsea signed MIazga some thought he was the heir apparent to John Terry. Some figured he’d get loaned around and after a bit would either challenge Terry or be snapped up by some other top 5 team. Some thought he was an idiot and was never going to play.

        As we now know Matt’s time there was somewhere between those forecasts. The same basic arc is happening with Steffen and others.

        I suspect this will be true for Wynder.
        If Wynder is sharp and a bit lucky, this can be nothing but a very good opportunity for him to better himself.
        People talk about how a lot of big clubs have a lot of eyes on players in America, but those same eyes are also on Portugal. Look at all the Portuguese players in the EPL.
        The Brooks/Che comparison, is taking a bit of a leap and does not take into account the human factors involved.
        JAB went to Benfica after a turbulent period. Who knew that listening to German death metal was such a bad thing? He’s never played outside of the BL. Maybe he just never fit in Lisbon.

        It should not have been a huge surprise that he did well at Hoffenheim, once he was back in what must have been a comfortable, familiar environment for him.

        Che being not as good as Wynder in the U20’s doesn’t matter. Both are now in a very different environment. The U20’s gave us a glimpse of what they could be. Players are dynamic. They either get better or they get worse.

        For example, scoring a goal 9 years ago in a World Cup, doesn’t mean, in and of itself, that you deserve a callup today. But then, you knew that.

        Hoffenheim and Benfica were interested is what Che and Wynder are NOW and , in Wynder’s case, what he still could be.

      • all due respect to miazga landed in between but he burnt the first half of his 20s being loaned around until he literally expired his CFC deal, at which point he comes back here age 26 to cincy having not really moved much more forward in our repute than when he left NYRB. while he apparently didn’t get along with GB this period also coincides with his disappearance from NT for a while, which while i agree with, says something about his strategy’s efficacy in reality. even if the odd loan would start ok in the end he ends up back in MLS starting over with maybe a half decade of career left, and, what, 2 CFC appearances? be honest, that’s an “L.”

        adu went to benfica and he bounced around on loan for years. i know the theory is he’s the one that rapidly turns out and becomes some portuguese league breakout, but not based on what i just saw. i think he needs sandpaper and work. this is a take the money and rotate around on loan spinning your wheels for your early 20s move. ream and Z are about to age out. this would be a good time to get drilled up and come onto the scene as a dark horse. but this move is basically conceding to richards and miles in exchange for cash.

    • i don’t know if the “louisville” bit matters so much as displayed quality. based on what i saw he worked on some U20 but not the good ones. he needs sandpaper. he is 18. he could still get sandpaper right environment. i don’t think a full blooded USL team was a bright idea for tutelage — though it might have been for contract freedom.
      the question is if by joining benfica B he gets that sandpaper or is instead judged as a finished product. i haven’t seen jogo improve a bunch for being sociedad B. i almost think age 18 go sign big 5 or even holland and let them dump you to age groups, then reserves, then earn your way all the way up. it came across to me like he wanted decent money plus they seem to have told him if he takes off he’s A team within a year maybe.

      not based on what i saw.

      and i know people are going to say i am usually opposed to signing big but this would be with the intended purpose of being an academician and getting taught up. age 18 is precisely when i would go big 5. get the coaching. you show up age 22 and they want you finished and ready to go and it’s darwinian.

      last point, USL is an odd choice to leave on a fee. USL to me is where one goes to go free whereever they want at the end of a short deal that maybe ends each year. if you wanted a fee go MLS. he wasn’t going to be playing a ton anyway and that plus U20 probably gets you a bigger number (of which he takes his %), if that’s all that mattered. odd. but then jogo did the same thing to a similar spanish club’s B team from louisville. and while they are both prospects i didn’t see jogo flying off into the stratosphere or sliding into sociedad A either. seems overly cute, avoid MLS, sign decent but not incredible B team.

      • Josh is born and raised in Louisville. Loyalty to the hometown team and the team his older brother plays on. Not many 18 yr old CBs get to play in MLS so start playing in USL and get your move to a team in Europe known for developing and selling young players. JGo went to Louisville because the family had a falling out with FCD over both Johan and Jonathan. Johan went to Porto B and JGo couldn’t go to another MLS team because of homegrown rules so he had to go to USL until he turned 18.

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