Five US Players I Want to See in MLS

Freddy Adu signs an American flag. USA defeated Grenada 4-0 during the First Round of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington on July 4, 2009. Photo via Newscom

The news that Wolves and U.S. national team keeper Marcus Hahnemann is open to retuning to MLS in 2011 got me thinking about other Americans abroad.  As the MLS has matured in a good and competitive soccer league, it is no longer absurd to think a world-class player could play in MLS.  This is true of younger players who are the future of the USMNT and may want to be close to the coaching staff to increase their chances of making the squad.  And, as we have seen with some of the designated player signings, MLS is a good location for older players who may want to market themselves or play in the U.S.  For Americans, it is a chance to return home and play in front of family and friends.

With that in mind, here are five Americans I want to see return to MLS in the near future, either to further their development or to spend the rest of their career.  I tried to be realistic with this list and not include those players who obviously are benefiting from playing overseas, so you will not see a Tim Howard or Michael Bradley below.  But who did I miss or do you disagree with my selections?  Sound off in the comments.

Freddy Adu

I will admit I am firmly pro-Adu.  His time in MLS was marred with unrealistic expectations, and his time overseas has seen him bounce from club to club.  He is still on the national team radar, however, and there is a slight chance he could get the call up for the South Africa friendly.  To be honest, I think the level of play in MLS has exceeded that of Aris (his current club), but the stumbling block may be his price tag.  He is making decent money overseas, but I hope he considers a return stateside to be closer to the USMNT coaching staff.

Marcus Hahnemann

Sort of an obvious choice, I look forward to a possible return by the keeper.  Even at 38, he is a top notch keeper and would be a good edition to a West Coast club, where he could be close to his Washington home.  And, even though Tim Howard is the #1 keeper, he still has a chance at taking over the top spot if Howard is injured or through poor play.  Vancouver currently has Jay Nolly penciled in as their starter, so there is an opportunity there.

Herculez Gomez

While he has only been gone from MLS for a season, the US men’s national team starter excelled for Puebla, tying for the lead in goals scored and setting the record for most goals scored by an American.  His MLS career was filled with bad coaching matches and untimely injuries, but I would still like to see him maybe play for a Chivas and provide them with some star power.

Jay DeMerit

This is an obvious one.  Jay DeMerit is looking for a job, and the prospects of a top-flight European league are slim.  He is a former MLS prospect, has international club experience, and played in the most recent World Cup.  What’s the downside here?  Someone who needs a defender should come in and swipe him up as soon as January rolls around.

Michael Parkhurst

The defender was a member of his boyhood club the New England Revolution before he departed in 2008 for Denmark.  MLS should make an attempt to woo him back after his three year deal expires.  He was quality when he played in the states, and if he wants to be a fixture in the USMNT lineup playing in front of Bob Bradley can only help.

25 Responses to Five US Players I Want to See in MLS

  1. HobokenHarry says:

    Freddy Adu is my #1 as well. The rest of my list shakes out as follows…….Eddie Johnson, Jay Demerit, Rico Clark, and Jozy Altidore. (Altidore is an EXTREME long shot at this point now that he’s starting to make the gameday squad…but I still think a year on loan…back in NY to work with Henry and get him goals/game time could be incredible for his career at this point.

  2. The Gaffer says:

    My vote is for Clint Dempsey.

    The Gaffer

  3. Robert says:

    Bring all Americans back and kick out Euro Has Beens that are earning huge salaries and not performing.

    • Charles says:

      Is this the same Robert that I NEVER see eye to eye with.

      Amen Robert, Amen.

      p.s. I wont even bring up the arguement that they would be better off here, because you might not agree. ooops.

  4. Robert Hay says:

    I’d love to see Dempsey and Altidore, but I think Europe may be the best bet for their careers over the next few years. But as Ron Burgundy would say, “Agree to disagree”.

  5. Ultra says:

    Would love to see Adu come back. Playing in Europe, at the “highest level”, is great in theory, but if your riding the bench or constantly getting loaned out and never playing what good does it do?

    Dempsey would be great but he has done well at Fulham I doubt he comes back anytime soon.

  6. Gage says:

    Just a hypothetical: how much would the level of MLS play improve if ALL yanks playing abroad came back to MLS? It’d be fun to watch.

    • Robert Hay says:

      Great question!

      I’d say there would be an uptick in quality of play, as there are so many talented US players abroad that it would give a small bump to MLS. That being said, they would not progress as far as player, meaning the USMNT would suffer as a result.

      • Charles says:

        yeah because so many of them are progressing over there. For every Dempsey there are so many others like Altidore just wasting their time.

        How many chances do you think Altidore got last year on a relegated team with a goal differential of 1 billion ? not enough to get better that is for sure.

        Buddle did, but then again he played with a lot better midfielder than anything Altidore saw.

        • Dave C says:

          Charles, did you watch any of Hull’s games last year?
          Fair enough, they’re garbage, and Altidore is still only young…but still, he got plenty of game time, and only scored one league goal all season. No matter what team you’re in, that’s a bad return.

          Compare this to his team-mate Mark Cullen, who was promoted from the youth team during the season. In one appearance all season, he equalled Altidore’s goal tally. Even Caleb Folan out-scored him, despite only playing a handful of games all season.

          My point is, it’s unfair to solely blame the rest of Hull City’s teams for Altidore’s shortcomings.

          Having said that, I don’t it’s right that Altidore didn’t “get better” during the course of the season. He undoubtedly did – he might not have scored goals, but he certainly improved in other ways. At the start of the season, he was incredibly naive – everytime he got the ball, he would generally try some silly flick or trick that just doesn’t work against EPL-caliber opponents. Towards the end of the season, I think Altidore smartened up, kept things simple and started causing problems with his physicality – I remember him drawing a few fouls in dangerous areas. Now if only he could develop a decent first touch and the ability to finish, he’ll be a pretty good player.

          • Charles says:

            I am not blaming Hull for Atidore’s shortcomings.

            I could NOT care less about Hull or any of the also rans.
            My concern is US players going to those teams. They are not getting a competitive game…or rarely ever.

            And sitting up at forward while you teams hangs on to “only” give up three goals a game isn’t going to develop ANYONE’S first touch or ability to finish.

          • Dave C says:

            “They’re not getting a competetive game…or rarely ever”

            Well speaking specifically of Altidore, he played 28 games for Hull, which is roughly equivalent (in numbers) to what he might have played had he been in the MLS. So now you have to ask which are the more “competetive” games. He could be in the EPL competing against Vidic, Ferdinand, Terry, Vermaelen, etc. Or he could be in the MLS competing against…who???

            I don’t think there are any EPL teams who’s ambition is to “only give up three goals a game.” But I get your point – that performing on a team that is dominant offensively probably provides a striker with more opportunity to learn his trade than on a team that is an under-dog.

            But I don’t know if this necessarily true, especially in the case of the US and Altidore. Playing on a relatively strong team against whipping-boy defences (like Buddle can in the MLS) may be of some benefit. But it’s in Altidore’s (and the USNT’s) interests to learn to be productive in an underdog situation, because that’s the situation he’ll be faced with internationally, and if he ever wants to progress in domestic football.

  7. Rex says:

    Clint Dempsey no question.

    Adu is much more feasible and I think it would be better fit for both parties. Adu would be great for MLS and i think would be good for his career.

  8. bradjmoore48 says:

    For me, in an ideal world, unless a player is getting solid playing time in one of the top 5 leagues (EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1) or on a Champions League quality ‘outsider’ (thinking along the lines of Zenit, Shaktar Donetsk, Ajax, Porto, Benfica), American players would stay in MLS. I understand players like Parkhursts’ reasoning for going to play in Scandinavia, money, but the hope in the future is we retain talent in MLS unless they are good enough to compete at the highest levels.

    I think all 5 suggestions would be good for MLS. But I wonder with Herc if he has adapted too much to just being a “super” sub, in which case, he might fit with LA and NY, who already have star forwards. in any case, I say DeMerit and Adu will be back in MLS before the other 3.

  9. Charles says:

    Hahnemann as a Whitecap is heresy.

    He will be a Sounder….AGAIN !

  10. MelH says:

    sounds great – but I’m betting young Freddy Adu (…and Eddie Johnson, etc.) would rather be making One Million Dollars a year riding pine in London and… (Where’s Freddy stuck at again?) than making $300K playing for the legendary Colorado Rapids…..

    Eddie Johnson gets to wear his Gucci and rub elbows with the rich and famous – why would he give that up?

    • CrazyMike366 says:

      Eddie Johnson is a professional athlete who plays soccer because he loves it, so there’s always a chance he’d come back to MLS if it meant he’d get to play week-in week-out in a somewhat well known league that is always improving. Wearing Gucci and hobnobbing with B-list English celebrities for $1m a year may not be making him truly happy – there’s no way to know until his contract expires next summer and he decides what to do.

    • Charles says:

      I agree on the money, but you do agree Freddy Adu is in no danger of playing in London anytime soon, unless it is div2 or div3…in which case, much like his time in Greece, I seriously doubt he is making $1mm a year.

      I couldn’t care less about specific American players, but as a rule/trend I would prefer the Americans to play here….especially the national team.

      First, all the posters that said Landon ( and other Americans ) should play over in Europe because it will help MLS were point blank WRONG. Landon scored the mirace goal, Buddle helped take the US to the second round and THAT is what helped MLS. Coincidence that the only real WCup bounce was LAs away attendance. No.

      Second, I disagree 100% that the National team members are better off playing Europe. Case by case of course, but Donovan, Buddle, Holden and many others have developed very nicely here, playing in our league.

      Sorry to ramble off your post.

  11. Dan says:

    Adu should sign for the Galaxy as a non-DP. The kid needs to prove himself again and under the guidance of Bruce Arena he will. Arena is probably the best manager in the league by far and has proven over and over again he knows how turn these kids into top notch players.

  12. Lloyd says:

    Love the discussion!!
    Its seems as fans of the game, Our passion for soccer in the states Has gotten stronger. So has the love we have for our players as well.
    back to the question at hand I don’t have a clear answer for, but I would like to see U.S. players go overseas only if they know they will get their playing time. Not just because its europe.

  13. Clampdown says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would want Clint Dempsey or Altidore to return to MLS any time soon.

    Clint is probably the best player on his club in one of the top three leagues in the world. I still believe he has a chance to play at an even bigger club. Maybe four years from now, I’d like to see him back, providing leadership for a club here.

    Jozy is way too young to give up on Europe. He’s now seeing some playing time with a very talented Villareal side. As a season ticketholder for RBNY it was a pleasure to watch him up close for so many matches, but he needs to stay in Spain and fight for his place in the team. He’s now scored twice in two weeks for Villareal, so can we stop talking about Hull? That was a disaster from the get-go.

    I definitely would like to see DeMerit in MLS and think EJ should come back as well.

    • Charles says:

      You don’t understand why I would want the Sounders to sign Altidore ?
      ( or Demsey, but he is pretty secure where he is )

      What do you not understand about it ?
      He is a great player.
      I like to watch great players.
      I have season tickets to the Sounders.
      Plus I want the Sounders to win.

      = I want Altidore on the Sounders.

      In addition, I don’t want the Sounders to have the RedBulls history in 14 years.
      My questions is why you wouldn’t want him on your team ? You want the Red Bulls to stay inferior to Villareal ?

      ps. Sounders outdraw Villareal, so it is time he steps up to the big leagues !

    • Dave C says:

      He’s now scored twice in two weeks for Villareal

      Let’s keep it [Villa]real, he’s scored twice against a third division team. Which is pretty much the same form (in goal scoring terms) that he showed last year. He’s hardly turned a corner. He’s only scored one top-level goal in club football in the last 2 and a half seasons.

      • Clampdown says:

        I never said he turned a corner. I do not believe it would be a wise career move for Altidore to give up on playing in Europe to return to MLS. He’s too young to return.

        I enjoy MLS very much and the level of play has indeed improved dramatically over the past few years, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking Jozy would get a better soccer education here than overseas with a club like Villareal.

        I understand, Charles, why from a selfish perspective you would want to watch him play in Seattle. I was sad to see him leave Red Bulls, but still believe it was the right move.

        • Dave C says:

          OK, fair enough…I thought you were saying that because Jozy’s scored twice in two games, we can stop talking about his previous form over the last couple of years, like he’s now put all of that behind him.

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