Thursday, August 14, 2008

Top 5 U.S. Olympians Most Likely To Have Eredivisie Scouts Buzzing Right Now

I am determined to make sure the Eredivisie does not go without Americans for one second! That's right, this is my second step in bringing at least one new U.S. international to the Netherlands' top division, a declaration to players, agents, clubs and fans alike (I can't tell you what step one was, maybe one day).

For this Top 5 List, I will identify the guys who most likely had the numerous Dutch scouts at the Olympics looking into them from the three games in China.

I'll even go so far as to pick the Eredivisie club the player would most easily settle into at this time - and no, I'm not giving away any secrets with my picks. These ideas are all mine. At first, I pondered asking a few league contacts a few things, but decided to keep it pure fantasy.

I should also add that several players were exempt from being chosen for a variety of reasons.

Freddy Adu (a ka the U.S. player most in need of an Ajax spell ever) has just signed with Monaco on loan. Though I must warn no one should be surprised if Ajax make a late Michael Bradley bid, the Heerenveen man is probably set to leave the country. By my estimation, that would leave the Dutch honor division without a 'Nat for the first time since 1989.

Almost any Dutch team worth its salt would crave Brian McBride, even at 37, but he too has recently found a new club, hometown Chicago. Finally, Robbie Rogers probably has had some conversation going on about him this week, but the fact that he left Heerenveen after less than season to return home will likely keep the talk brief.

Furthermore, Toronto FC midfield ace Maurice Edu really didn't have the proper platform to wildly impress at this tourney due to being called into central defense duty. He was somewhat admirable in his efforts, but certainly nothing that would draw great attention to himself.

#5 - Charlie Davies - The Dutch dilemma over Charlie isn't his talent, potential, personality or fitness. The stumbling block to the Netherlands is exactly the reason Ajax didn't make a contract offer when they could have signed him for free in 2006: is he a center forward or a winger? They liked him, but simply weren't sure if he was right for a 4-3-3. Thanks to his 13 minutes of dazzle-ment against Nigeria, Davies they may have figured it out. Of course, now Hammarby would likely be very reluctant to part with him.

Where to? He'd have been a perfect Heerenveen summer pick up had coach Gertjan Verbeek not left for Rotterdam. As much as it pains me to say this... F-word. He'd be able to run off veteran striker Roy Makaay with Jonathan Guzman to set tables... pardon me a moment... buh... I can't continue with this image, I'm gonna be ill. You get the point.

#4 - Benny Feilhaber - Though he didn't get as much Olympic time as he'd hoped, the Derby County outcast has had Eredivisie scouts raving before (reportedly, Heerenveen has tried him twice in the past). Any current problems with his game don't really matter because the Dutch will think they can use him properly where others, including U.S. National Teams, have failed... they're probably right, too.

Where to? AZ Alkmaar, who need a bit of a rebuild after shedding countless stars over the last two seasons. With Haris Medunjanin off trialing in Spain, the Cheese Farmers could use Benny to slide right in between Belgium Olympic ace Maarten Martens and one of two young Oranje stoppers: Stijn Schaars or Demy de Zeeuw.

#3 - Stuart Holden - Don't think the scouts in attendance didn't notice the Dynamo star's wide range of Eredivisie-friendly skills in China. I can almost see the scouting report now (translated to English, of course): "Plays well out wide or centrally; fearless for a small player; tricky dipping set piece serves, hit well consistently; rocket shot from distance; makes himself available to the ball; dribbles out of tight spaces...". You get the idea.

Where to? Goooooooooooooooooooooood Moooorninnnggggg, Heeeeeerenveeeeeeeeeen!!! I hear there's a spot opening up there.

#2 - Josmer Altidore - Even a bit hobbled, the Villarreal summer catch probably drew his fair share of glances in China. The U.S. strike apprentice is prime fodder for a loan bid from an attacking team that will play him. Strong and fast with a barrel of front line charisma, Altidore is a potential world class #9, and so many of them were grown in the Netherlands it's silly.

Where to? If Real Madrid actually do offer more than Ajax can refuse for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, they could be thrust into emergency search mode, in which case a loan might do. They certainly wouldn't want a repeat of the Zlatan Ibrahimovic fiasco (sold deadline day with no replacement ready) and Villarreal would certainly be down with Jozy having a year of Ajax tutelage. Altidore wouldn't be a dead lock starter here, but that may not be the point in this special case.

#1 - Marvell Wynne - In my view, the Toronto FC right back was best U.S. player at the Olympics, earning at least solid marks in all three matches. He still makes the odd mistake, but he also covers three times as many mistakes by other people with his hustle. The only thing really missing is a confident deep cross, and I'd be willing to wager a Dutch team would feel they can change that. Actually, I'm pretty sure that right now there's at least one Eredivisie sub-topper is pondering whether he'd be worth about €480,000 this season (the approximate league minimum for non-EU players). The real question should perhaps be "How much longer will he be worth a low enough amount that this is even an issue?".

Where to? Ajax or PSV Eindhoven would be ideal, of course, but they have no need for him whatsoever. Former U.S. star Earnie Stewart does have a need at NAC Breda, but they just got knocked out of the UEFA Cup draw. Ya know who else has a need? NEC Nijmegen, who have a free pass to the first round proper of the same tournament and an otherwise solid backline. Besides, if he isn't on one of the headliners, that would mean he'd have to face all of them twice a season. Trust me, it's sexier than it sounds.

UPDATE: If FC Twente lose Luke Wilkshire to Dinamo Moscow, they instantly become my Marvell Wynne destination pick. Sure, they are not long for the Champions League, but are a good bet to re-enter Europe next season. Besides, anyone can see the string of players transferred to bigger clubs from Arke Stadion in recent years. This one is very sexy.

- Greg Seltzer

[Photo: Getty]


corky said...

Great job on the blog. I've followed you guys since Yanks Abroad in 2004 and it's good to see you have a blog.

Here's an idea for a Top 5 List that maybe good or not. We often hear about how American players are "unskilled" compared to others. My question is -- What would be 5 skills of particular American players which are world class (i.e. Wynne's recovery speed)? Is it Donovan's open-field prowess? Hope it makes sense.

Greg Seltzer said...

Thanks, Corky. I will put your Top 5 List idea on our to do list. This sounds like one that could be right up Sean's alley.