Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Top 5 outbound MLS summer transfers

A lot of talk lately about the steady stream of aged DP injections coming toward MLS, but what about the players on their way out, building stock like skilled bricklayers? There are a handful of MLSers who could very well cut through the thick, gauzy, manic transfer haze created by Euro 2012 (of which Jacob has an update coming on our NSC Euro pool) and begin careers in leagues farther afield. Enough about Dzagoev and Podolski. Let's talk about our boys, forgetting momentarily that MLS letting go of young prospects looks mildly like a weepy mom watching her first-born child toddle off to the first day of pre-K, only to pull the kid back before he steps through the door with weak knees.

What follows are five MLS players primed for a permanent jump across the pond. This doesn't necessarily mean these moves are on the wind, nor is this an ironclad prediction for this particular summer transfer window. Merely that, in my mind, these five guys are most ready to take their game to the next level abroad.

One player I'm ignoring on purpose is Landon Donovan. This list is more about the newer crop (as a general rule I excluded players who've already made a dent abroad), and Donovan's story is carrion as far as I'm concerned. He'll probably end up in England, and it'll probably be at Everton. Or not. Whatever. Let's move on.

#5 - Marco Pappa, Chicago Fire

Few players in MLS are more skilled. That may not be saying a ton for a league that draws its cues from a slab of craggy granite rather than a feather duster, but Pappa is an exception. Smooth on possession and cool around the box, the biggest knock on Pappa is that he might not be fully formed as a complete player, or enough of one to make an impact in a bump-up league. But his game, on its best days, looks as creatively informed as anybody's in MLS. He already has an MLS goal of the year award in his pocket and could pick up another from his Olimpico in Seattle. But the most important thing is that he's a terror on the flank and can score from outrageous areas. At 24, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Pappa in La Liga by this time next year.

#4 - Fredy Montero, Seattle Sounders

The transfer rumor carrousel seems to spin round and round with Montero without much ado year after year, but that should change soon. My antennae always goes up when Montero gets touches because you'd be hard-pressed to find a player who raises defenders' hackles more frequently. He's quick, has uncanny vision and has a flair for the dramatic. I hear the complains about Montero's inconsistency and I'd like to acknowledge and squash them here. Montero is the embodiment of the uber-talented dynamo. He has more skill than he knows what to do with, and in MLS he can (he thinks) at times skate by with the power dialed down to 70 percent. It doesn't typically work that way, of course, but when thrown in league with world powers I see this issue correcting itself. After all, there is nobody with more technical ability in the league than Montero. The key is unlocking it, and I think a move to a big-boy league could be the ticket.

#3 - Brek Shea, FC Dallas

Shea only reaches third on my list. I don't harbor any grudges (the guy is a Texan, c'mon), nor do I think he can't hack it in a bigger league. But I can only assume that scouts see the same things I do. He has prodigious athletic bona fides but seems reticent at times to fire all his pistons at the same time. It appears that he often operates hampered by a restrictor plate, and that only if taken off can he assume the mantle of the Next Big American Thing. Of course there's his current heath struggles to monitor, but all things being equal he needs to unchain the beast a little bit to become more of a commodity. And I get the sense that European clubs still aren't quite sure where best to use him. Winger? That's certainly where he's most used in MLS, but he can tend to get lost on the edge against high motor fullbacks. Striker? He's got the frame and athleticism, but not the experience. Central attacking midfielder? This is actually the most intriguing option to me, but until he gets more run-outs here, that'll be a tough sell. Still, few players project better than Shea. As long as he starts to understand that fact too, he'll be fine.

#2 - Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders

Is Alonso a better prospect than Shea? Not in so many words, but his skill set certainly translates better to a deeper league as it stands now. Alonso has led the league in tackles for midfielders for several years, and nobody has been more reliably burly sitting in the deep hole. We got an interesting nugget to chew on this week when Alonso became a US citizen, ending a haywire defection story from Cuba that started with a quick decision in a Houston department store. Whether or not this means he ever suits us for the US is unclear, though it seems to me his agent is overly optimistic on that front. But the byproduct could be that he's more attractive (and stable) for European suitors. Either way, Alonso's defensive midfielder capabilities translate incredibly well abroad, especially in a league like Serie A where crunching midfielders who slow-play possession are prized commodities. Either way, Ozzie could make an immediate impact on a Champions League side as soon as this fall. I have no qualms about that.

#1. Geoff Cameron, Houston Dynamo

In my view, the Dynamo central defender is ready to step into a mid-table EPL side right now and start regularly in the XI with high marks. Nobody in MLS looks better built to go now than Cameron, and arguably no MLS center half has been this poised for immediate high-level duty abroad since the league formed. Yes, I'm including all the guys you think I'm including in that list. I've routinely gushed over his ability to play out of the back with sweeping outside-footed passes and competent support play as he's gradually become Jurgen Klinsmann's top option beside Boca. But seeing him in person last weekend drove home to me just how ready he is. Dom Kinnear gives Cameron license to play like Pique, routinely allowing him to push up past midfield to buttress attacks while standing tough like a concrete support slab on set pieces and odd-man rushes on the other end. He's light on his feet and resolute in one-on-ones. What's not to like? Everton and Stoke City scouts were reportedly in attendance at the Texas Derby on Saturday to scout Cameron specifically, so we'll see. But I'd be surprised if he wasn't somewhere in Europe by the end of either this transfer window or next.

- Will Parchman


Jamie said...

I really hope you are right about Cameron, USA could use another CB.

Wideboy said...

Has George John fallen off of the EPL's radar?

Mike said...

In regards to Cameron and Shea, where do you think they will end up? Premier League?

Also, if Omar G. comes back and plays well this year do you think the team he was trialling at last year will be back in for him?

Will Parchman said...

Cameron will end up in a good situation off the bat, of that I'm almost certain. Schalke, Stoke and Everton were all in Houston last weekend and I'd be surprised if all three weren't impressed. I'd bet Cameron ends up in the EPL, though Shea is harder to predict. He's in more of a wait-and-see situation. Could go a lot of different ways.

I'd have to think Nuremberg will back off Omar until he proves his knee is fine again, which means at least a seasons-worth of plugging away with LA to regain fitness and confidence. And in all honesty I think he'll want that anyway. You wouldn't want your first season in the Bundesliga to be on a shaky rebuilt knee.

John's loan spell with West Ham was a dud, and he's not been healthy this year. Hyndman said something back in February to the effect that he expected things to quiet down for John until his form picked up again, and that's been the case. John hasn't looked confident on the field in almost a year. Until that changes, meaningful minutes in the EPL will be scarce.

Mike said...

Will- Playing again in MLS(next season) would mean signing a new contract which I'm not sure Omar would do. Any chance a team will sign him for free then loan him out for a half year/full year.

In regards to Cameron, I hope he doesn't go to Stoke. I would be happy with a few other premier league teams

Will Parchman said...

Omar is going to have to sign somewhere, and big clubs aren't going to line up to sign damaged goods. So he can either re-up with a short-term contract with LA with the expectation that he'll be loaned/sold once healthy, or he can go it alone in the wilds of Europe in what will presumably be a lower tier league. If I'm Omar I take the former option.

Omar very well may jump to Europe once his MLS contract runs out, but he'll have to work back to full strength somewhere, and big clubs won't have the patience or the roster room to accommodate him while he does. Doing it with the devil you know is better than with the one you don't.

Mike said...

It will be a very interesting situation to say the least. I just wonder what type of contract lenght MLS will offer him and then once he signs that contract why would MLS/LA want to sell its best defender.

jaredlaunius said...

Cameron's situation is just so...strange, no? He just middled (pun totally intended) in central midfield, only to, as a 26(!)-year old move to central defense, immediately jump into the national team fold and land on the transfer wish list of multiple Euro clubs. Has to be a bit of a blight on our player identification here, right? He'd likely have been identified as a CD at a much younger age in a lot of other countries, right? Maybe not. Hard to know. Still, though.

I'm happy he's rising so quickly, it's just a bummer it wasn't until he was almost 27 that it all started happening for him.

Will Parchman said...

It's hard to know for sure. Shoehorning is a problem in our system, but Cameron was a solid CDM. Still is. He's just a much better CB. Plus, some people just blossom later. Maybe Cameron isn't as good of a CB if he doesn't put in time in midfield. In fact, I'd wager a lot of $$ on that being the case. He certainly wouldn't be as comfortable on possession.

It's unfortunate that we won't get more time with Cameron in central defense in the long run, but I'm plenty thankful that we found him at all.

Will Parchman said...

And sure 'nuff, Cameron's cross led to the game-tying header tonight. Believe me when I say this cat can do more than most center backs can dream.

dikranovich said...

Dude, Houston gave up three goals tonight. Against Toronto. At home

Will Parchman said...

Not a perfect game for the Houston back four, no doubt, but Cameron was only even remotely culpable for one of those goals, and Koevermans just beat him to the header for the third. Not a ton Cameron could've done without fouling. Nobody's perfect.

Barker said...

Will your hype about Cameron is on the level with the hype about Ream.
Like Ream Cameron is awesome at sending in long passes...but just like Ream his defense (positioning/following marks) is wanting. Like Ream his decision making is poor. To say he is a better CB than he is a CB?!? Have you watched him this year?

Have you not seen him stripped of the ball in his own end about 6 times LITERALLY in 3 games?
Even Ream didnt have that happen t o him more than once.
Matt Doyle stated on a podcast last month that the biggest surprise of the season thus far was how "utterly bad Cameron has been" !!! But your telling me how awesome he is because he can send an inch perfrect long ball from the backfield.

WHAT GOOD IS PLAYING AN INCH PERFECT LONG BALL WHEN YOU DONT DEFEND WELL?!!? Jesus I thought we answered that question last year with Ream but I guess not

Barker said...

And then you have the nerve to answer someones question about John by lying and saying he hasnt been "confident" on the field?!?


(Johns highlights this year)

You couldn't have bothered to review any number of FCD blog game grades and see John is always the highest or second highest rated player EVERY GAME?

Of course not but you do cite Hyndman as saying something to the effect of "he expected transfer rumors to die down until Johns form improved" ???!?!?!?!
Bet you cant provide a link to that interview can you Will?

This isn't the first time you've lied about John over the years Will so what gives? What benefit is it to lie about performances (good and bad) of players in our pool?
I just dont get it