October 07, 2016
Brace yourselves, unfounded rumors are coming -- every single American soccer player is about to be linked to Bob Bradley's Swansea City.
That's the inevitable by-product of any coach taking the reigns at a new club. What is the transfer strategy? Does the club "splash the cash" in January? Will Bradley bring in "his guys"? Who exactly are "his guys"?
Nonsense aside, it's always exciting when an American is linked to an overseas club. Sure, we want MLS to grow, and part of that is keeping our best players here, but everybody enjoyed watching Clint Dempsey at Fulham, Michael Bradley at Roma, and Tim Howard at Everton. When more Americans play at home, it takes some of the interest out of watching the Premier League on Saturday mornings, unless you're one of those Arsenal fans who has never been to England.
Anyway, Bradley at Swansea isn't exactly women's suffrage, but it's a historic appointment for American soccer. We've had successful players in England, Germany, Italy, and France, but we've never placed a coach at a top team in a top league.
People still think that Americans don't know enough about soccer/football, and Bob Bradley gets a chance to prove them wrong. Success in Wales paves the way for more European inroads, while failure reinforces the belief that we're just not good enough.
Ironically, Bradley can start by avoiding Americans in the transfer window. We have a recent history of failed Premiership moves, and Bradley can't risk another Brek Shea or Juan Agudelo scenario.
There is, however one guy he should definitely go after.
Michael Bradley – No. He's 29 years old right now and came back to MLS in the prime of his career. I can't see him going back overseas at this point. Plus, I think the idea of signing your son would be generally viewed as a bush league move.
Jozy Altidore – No. Jozy shouldn't be anywhere near the Premier League.
Jordan Morris – No. He'll play overseas at some point, but let's let him develop in Seattle. He's in a good place right now.
Steve Birnbaum – No. He's good enough to play in Europe, but doesn't need to go straight to England. I wouldn't mind seeing Birnbaum in Germany or the Netherlands, where he could cut his teeth against some quality attacking sides.
Perry Kitchen – No. In 2016, transferring from Hearts to Swansea is probably the same as transferring from D.C. United to Swansea. In all seriousness, he's just earned himself the captain's armband, so let's at least give him another year in Edinburgh.
Bobby Wood – No. He just signed for Hamburg and he's playing well. Let's not ruin that with a premature transfer to the Premier League. I do, however, think Wood would be a really nice fit on a Bob Bradley-coached team. Swansea has a cadre of underperforming strikers right now, so I think one of the first tasks is for Bradley to sort out that mess.
Fabian Johnson – Maybe. I certainly think he could play on this team, but are you going to move Gylfi Sigurdsson to get him on the field? Johnson is at his best when plays on the left side of the midfield. Yes, he plays left back for the national team, but if you wanted to try that at Swansea, you'd be elevating him above Neil Taylor and Kyle Naughton, who actually is a right back. Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn't. Johnson is like most of the other Bundesliga guys. He's playing well in Germany and doesn't really need a transfer.
John Brooks – YES. He could play for Swansea, absolutely. He's young, he's still improving, and he's starting to show consistency. Swansea just signed Mike Van Der Hoorn, who is also a 23 year old center back, so it's not necessarily a position of need. I do think Brooks has the better resume, but if you're looking at the Swans' roster, CB won't be at the top of the list. Still, Brooks would definitely improve the squad and I think he'd do well in the EPL.
Christian Pulisic – No. He's playing well on a better team. Plus, the kid doesn't need any more media hype.
DeAndre Yedlin – No. I think he's in a great spot with Newcastle right now. Get him meaningful minutes in the Championship.
Omar Gonzalez – No. He's 27 now. If he had gone overseas a few years ago, maybe it would make sense to give him a shot at the Prem. I think he comes back to MLS when he's done with Liga MX.
Julian Green – No. He needs meaningful minutes somewhere in Germany.
Geoff Cameron – No. He certainly has EPL experience, but he's 31 years old now and I'm not sure if he's an improvement over Jordi Amat, Federico Fernandez, or Angel Rangel.
Bill Hamid – No. Would he win the starting spot from Lukasz Fabianski?
Kellyn Acosta – No. First, let's settle on a position for him. I'd rather see him at defensive mid, which is, you know, the position he plays for the best team in MLS. What's with the left back stuff? Second, he's only 21 years old, so if he goes overseas, I'd prefer to see him in Germany or the Championship before going straight to the Premier League.
Matt Miazga – No. I hated the Chelsea move. He's in a good spot with Vitesse, so let's see how the loan turns out.
Darlington Nagbe – Maybe. I admittedly don't know enough about Swans to determine whether or not they could benefit from a ball-moving midfielder. Are you going sit one of Leroy Fer, Jack Cork, or Leon Britton to get Nagbe on the field? Probably not. You could try him on the wing I guess.
Aron Johannsson – No. I think he probably just needs to be healthy and contributing to Bremen right now.
Bradley hasn't coached in MLS for a long time, but he definitely wasn't shy in leaning on domestic players for his USMNT squads.
What about foreign MLS players? The league has certainly grown since Bradley was removed as U.S. manager in 2011.
There are a few that might make sense for Swansea City.
Mauro Diaz - I think he's the most transfer-worthy player in MLS, which is a product of his skill, position, and age. It doesn't mean he's necessarily the MVP of the league, right? Diaz is 25, he's one hell of a playmaker, and I think he could contribute to a lot of European clubs. Does he fit a Bob Bradley type of team? Probably not, but he would make Swans better, that's for sure.
Sebastian Giovinco - No duh? Giovinco would improve most teams. The question is whether the 29 year old even wants to go back to Europe. Would he play in the Premiership? When a top player comes to Toronto at age 27, you really have no clue what the rest of his career is going to look like.
Andre Blake - Is Blake better than Hamid? Is either better than Fabianski? It would be an interesting battle.
Ronald Matarrita - 22 years old, a starter for NYC and the Costa Rica national team. Swansea could do worse at the left back spot.
David Accam - Worthy of a better team than Chicago. Does he fit the Premier League? He might be a tad undersized for England.
Cyle Larin - He's destined for an overseas move at some point. Is now the right time?
Jack Harrison - Same as Jordan Morris. Let's give him an injury-free year to flourish in MLS.
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