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Scandinavia, stepping stone or not?
by Paul Kennedy, December 19th, 2012 11:50PM

TAGS:  americans abroad, denmark, germany, sweden


[AMERICANS ABROAD] Scandinavia has been a popular destination for American players, dating as far back as 1990 when U.S. internationals John Doyle, Hugo Perez and Christopher Sullivan moved to Sweden. In recent years, it's been considered a stepping stone for Americans seeking to move on to bigger clubs.

Michael Parkhurst
hit the jackpot when he signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with German Bundesliga club Augsburg from Denmark's FC Nordsjaelland.

In recent years, it's been considered a stepping stone for Americans seeking to move on to bigger clubs in Europe. But of the 80 American pros who have played in Scandinavia, Parkhurst is only the sixth to directly move to a bigger European league, though most of the others had no more than fleeting success.

In three years after signing at Sweden's Hammarby out of Boston College, Charlie Davies enjoyed a meteoric rise, becoming one of the most feared forwards the USA has ever produced, but he has never been the same since the car crash that left him with serious injuries and killed another passenger in October 2009 outside Washington, D.C.

One of the stars of the U.S. team that finished second at the 2009 Confederations Cup, Davies was sold by Hammarby to French club Sochaux for which he was off to a great start before his accident. At the end of the 2011-12 season, his contract with Sochaux was terminated by mutual agreement and he returned to Denmark, where he is a reserve at Denmark's Randers FC.

Another BC product Alejandro Bedoya moved to Scottish club Rangers from Sweden's Orebro in July 2011, but he had bad luck of a different sort. Rangers went bankrupt this past summer and he is now back in Sweden at Helsingborg.

Parkhurst isn't the first American defender to move from FC Nordsjaelland to Germany. After three seasons in Denmark, Heath Pearce moved to Hansa Rostock, where he enjoyed two tumultuous seasons marked by disputes with management. After a move to Turkey in September 2009 was aborted, Pearce moved to MLS, where he has been one of the league's top defenders but already been traded twice, from FC Dallas to Chivas in 2011 and Chivas USA to New York in 2012.

Sullivan is the other American 's on-again, off-again pro career -- he took time out in the early 1990s to work as a stockbroker -- took him to Hertha Berlin in Germany briefly after stops in Sweden and Denmark.

After being rebuffed in his attempt to obtain a work permit in England, Brad Friedel played briefly at Denmark in Brondby in 1995. He then moved to Galatasaray in Turkey before returning to the United States for the start of MLS.

Other U.S.-based players have been attracted to Scandinavia. As a network of agencies specializing in Scandinavian transfers has popped up, players from Costa Rica and Jamaica, many current or former MLS players, have moved to clubs in Scandinavia.

The most successful former U.S. resident to take the Scandinavia route is Armenian-born Yura Movsisyan, who moved from Real Salt Lake to Randers FC in 2010. After a year in Denmark, he moved to Krasnodar in Russia on a transfer fee of $3 million. He recently agreed to a deal that sent him to Spartak Moscow for $10 million -- a record fee for a former MLS player.

Note: The list below consists of American pros who have played in Scandinavia. The club and year refer to the first club and first year they played in Scandinavia. For the purposes of this list, we've included Finland, Faeroe Islands and Iceland as part of Scandinavia.

*Played in MLS before moving to Scandinavia.

Denmark (27)
Rick Iverson (AaB Aalborg, 1990)
Geoffrey Gray
(Odense BK, 1991)
Peter Woodring (AaB Aalborg, 1994)
Brad Friedel (Brondby, 1995)
Mike Burns (Viborg, 1995)
Derk Droze (Lyngby, 1997)
Gregory Schwager (Vejle, 1997)
Will Orben (FC Copenhagen, 1999)
*Wade Barrett (AGF Aarhus, 2002)
*Matt Jordan (Odense BK, 2003)
Yuri Morales (Viborg, 2004)
Heath Pearce (FC Nordsjælland, 2005)
Joe Zewe (B1909, 2005)
*Danny Califf (AaB Aalborg, 2006)
Tally Hall (Esbjerg, 2007)
Jeremiah White (AGF Aarhus, 2007)
Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus, 2008)
*Will John (Randers FC, 2008)
Lee Nguyen (Randers FC, 2008)
*Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjaelland, 2008)
*Chris Rolfe (AaB Aalborg, 2009)
Marcus Tracy (AaB Aalborg, 2009)
Conor O'Brien (Blokhus FC, 2010)
Babajide Ogunbiyi (Viborg, 2010)
Brad Rusin (HB Koge, 2011)
*Mike Jones (FC Hjorring, 2012)
Shawn Nicklaw (HB Koge, 2012)

Faeroe Islands (1)
Stephen Boyle (Kl, 1999)

Finland (11)
Brandon Fonseca (PU 35, 1999)
Danny Antunez
(Pallo-Iirot, 2009)
Mason Trafford (IFK Mariehamn, 2010)
Dan Stevens (Kemi Kings, 2010)
Kyle Luetkehans (Kemi Kings, 2011)
*Mike Banner (FF Jaro, 2012)
*Justin Moose (SJK, 2012)
*Pat Phelan (SJK, 2012)
Johann Smith (KuPS, 2012)
Brian Waltrip (Tampere United, 2000)
Aaron Wheeler (FC KooTeePee, 2012)
Note: Christian Eissele and Joey Spivack signed with Kemi Kings in 2012 after it dropped to the third level.

Iceland (1)
Robbie Russell (Breioablik, 2000)

Norway (21)
*Brian West (Fredrikstad, 2004)
*Adin Brown (Aalesund, 2005)
*Ramiro Corrales (Ham-Kam, 2005)
Joseph Lapira (Nybergsund, 2005)
*Nat Borchers (Odd Grenland, 2006)
Cam Weaver (Haugesund, 2006)
Mikkel Diskerud (Stabaek, 2008)
*Clarence Goodson (IK Start, 2008)
*Willis Forko (Bodo/Glimt, 2008)
*Chris Gbandi (Haugesund, 2008)  
*Troy Perkins (Vålerenga, 2008)
*Pat Noonan (Aalesund, 2008)
*Hunter Freeman (IK Start, 2009)
Tyrel Lacey (Lyn, 2009)
Joe Bendik (Sogndal, 2010)
Steve Clark (Honefoss, 2010)
Sean Cunningham (Molde, 2011)
Rhett Bernstein (Mjondalen, 2011)
Josh Gatt (Molde, 2011)
Kyle Helton (Mjondalen, 2011)
Brendan King (Alta, 2012)

Sweden (19)
John Doyle (Orgryte, 1990)
Hugo Perez (Orgryte, 1990)
Chrisopher Sullivan
(Landskrona BoIS, 1990)
McKinley Tennyson
(GIF Sundsvall, 2001)
*Brian Dunseth
(Bodens SK, 2004)
Charlie Davies (Hammarby, 2007)
Etchu Tabe
(Ljungskile, 2008)
Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro, 2009)
*Ryan Miller (Ljungskile, 2009)
Gale Agbossoumonde (Djurgarden, 2011)
*Brian Edwards (Degerfors IF, 2011)
Samuel Petrone (Mjallby, 2011)
Matt Pyzdrowski (Angelholm, 2011)
*Baggio Husidic (Hammarby, 2012)
Billy Schuler (Hammarby, 2012)
Jordan Seabrook (Enkopings SK, 2012)
Brian Span (Djurgarden, 2012)
Patrick Hopkins (Ljungskile, 2012)
Steffen Vroom (Ljungskile, 2012)

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