While the prime focus among players in Men’s National Team camp is preparing for next month’s CONCACAF Cup, four players in the group have recently settled their club situations for the newly started European campaign.
Winger DeAndre Yedlin was the latest player to clarify his club situation after finalizing a loan move from Tottenham Hotspur to fellow Barclays Premier League side Sunderland on Monday morning. After a month of uncertainty about where he’d be spending the season, the 22-year-old admitted relief at finding a landing spot.
“This last month has been tough,” he said Tuesday. “It’s been pretty stressful. There have been so many different teams that have come up and then gone. A lot of it is out of my control, that was tough, but I’m relieved it’s over.”
After seeing the young American attacking talent fail to get first team minutes during his initial time with Spurs, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsman told reporters he was pleased with the loan move.
“Hopefully it gives him more playing time,” Klinsmann, himself a former Tottenham striker, said. “It looked pretty much that he didn’t get that playing time with Spurs because of their roster situation. With that move to Sunderland, things open up for him and hopefully they give him more opportunities to be on the field, to play Premier League minutes and that’s why we’re happy for him.”
DeAndre Yedlin will look to get a long run of games when he returns to English club Sunderland after the USMNT's friendlies against Peru and Brazil.
While there were rumors of suitors for Yedlin outside of the Premiership, the player agreed with Klinsmann about the opportunity to get Premier League minutes this season.
“I think it’s a league that you really have to get used to,” Yedlin said. “I think getting the experience playing in a Premier League team and hopefully getting consistent games is huge for me.”
Elsewhere in England, defender Tim Ream recently transferred from Bolton Wanderers to fellow English Championship side Fulham FC, despite being closely courted by the Cottagers’ cross-London rivals Queens Park Rangers.
“The move to Fulham came about pretty quick,” Ream told ussoccer.com. “QPR was interested and then Fulham kind of jumped in at the very last minute.”
What made the difference in Ream’s choice of destination? He admitted the past exploits of players like Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra at the club went a long way.
“Comparing the two clubs and knowing the American guys that have played there before and seeing the success they’ve had, it kind of pushed it over the top for me. It just seemed like a good fit not only for me personally and professionally, but it felt like a family club and that was something that was important to me.”
Despite going to a club that seems to have an affinity for American players, Ream admitted that it was difficult to leave Bolton.
“It was hard. There’s no doubt about it. I spent three and a half years there. Had some lows, had some highs, got relegated and struggled in my first year in the Championship, but all of a sudden things change and you have two really good seasons, the fans vote you Player of the Year two years in a row.
“My last day there, I was the very last one to leave the training ground that Thursday before the transfer went through. I choked up. It was home for me for three-and-a-half years and we met some really great people along the way.”
Having only secured his move a few weeks ago, Ream admitted he hasn’t fully settled at his new locale, but it didn’t take him long at all to make his way into the team.
“I’ve only been there 10 days now, but off the field stuff takes a bit. On the field, I feel good. I’ve trained four or five days and was thrown right into a Cup game, played 80 minutes and we won 3-0 against Sheffield United and then 90 minutes a few days later when we won 3-1 at Rotherham on Saturday. I’m right back to where I want to be and once camp is done here, I’m looking forward to getting back to Fulham.”
Tim Ream is the next MNT player to follow the well-trodden path of U.S. internationals at Fulham.
Perhaps the highest profile of the MNT moves this summer saw striker Aron Johannsson, whose late season goals helped AZ Aklmaar qualify for the UEFA Europa League, move from the Dutch side to German Bundesliga club Werder Bremen.
Because of Gold Cup duty, Johannsson didn’t get a full preseason with his new club, but has begun to find his way of late after starting the team’s last two matches and scoring his first goal – a 39th minute penalty kick – in Bremen’s 2-1 victory over Monchengladbach on Sunday.
“It was difficult not to get a full preseason with the team and sort of get thrown in with my teammates rather than get to play with them more and show them,” Johannsson told ussoccer.com. “This is football, this is life. It’s more challenging now and it’s been nice. Of course I need some more time to adjust 100 percent with the team, but with every game and every training session things get better and better.”
U.S. forward Bobby Wood returned to camp this week, hoping to replicate the strong showings he put in with game-winning goals in the early summer friendlies against the Netherlands and Germany.
Rather than continue with the team at July’s Gold Cup, Wood and Klinsmann agreed it would be best for him to stabilize his club situation over the offseason, with the 22-year-old forward eventually signing for 2.Bundesliga side Union Berlin.
“I think it’s really important that I got my move,” Wood told ussoccer.com. “It was a chaotic last season and it was good to be able to start fresh. It was important for me mentally to set myself up for a new beginning and I was thankful for the chance to do so.”
The decision to focus on his club situation over the summer seems to have worked out so far, with Wood starting each of the club’s five league matches thus far and scoring his first goal two weeks ago in a 2-2 draw with Kaiserslautern.
“Everything is going good, I’m settled in and I’m trying to make my way and hopefully that translates here with the National Team.”