[AMERICANS ABROAD]England remains the desired destination for Americans seeking to play abroad. Unlike Germany, where most of the Americans are German-born and -bred, or Mexico, were most of the Americans arrived as teens and developed through the Mexican club system, almost all the Americans in the Premier League were established pros in MLS when they moved to England. Several players used strong seasons in England to assert themselves on the U.S. national team (Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan) or resurrect their careers (Stuart Holden). Every American didn't prosper in England, however.
England (Premier League)
GP/G PLAYER, TEAM
36/- Brad Guzan, Aston Villa
35/- Tim Howard, Everton
35/0 Geoff Cameron, Stoke City
29/7 Clint Dempsey, Tottenham
17/0 Eric Lichaj, Aston Villa
11/- Brad Friedel, Tottenham
2/0 Brek Shea, Stoke City
1/0 Maurice Edu, Stoke City
0/0 Sebastian Lletget, West Ham United
Clint Dempsey scored some big goals for Tottenham after his move from Fulham, but only in his first full season at Fulham did he score fewer than seven league goals he scored for Spurs. Unlike at Fulham, where he was the main man and sorely missed, he was in and out of the starting lineup at Tottenham. It didn't help that a calf injury sidelined him in late winter. Reports have appeared in the British press that Spurs could be trying to unload Dempsey.
Guzan was first released by Aston Villa, then re-signed, and he prospered as he finally got an extended look as the starter in goal. Indeed, he was named Player of the Year for helping Villa stave off relegation and he should be rewarded with a new contract. He started 36 of 38 league games -- in sharp contrast to the eight games he played in his first four seasons behind Brad Friedel and Shay Given.
For a while, Friedel kept the starting job at Tottenham, to the surprise of new signing, French national team keeper Hugo Lloris, and just about everyone in France. But Lloris was finally handed the starting job in November and kept it except for the odd start by Friedel in the FA Cup and Europa League. Now 42 and in his 16th career in England, Friedel was granted a one-year contract extension that will keep him at White Heart Lane until 2014.
A back injury ended Tim Howard's streak of consecutive EPL starts at 210, two shy of the Everton record, but he was otherwise solid for the Toffees, who finished a respectable sixth in the EPL.
All three of the first-year Americans in the EPL played at Stoke, where they had mixed success. Cameron established himself as a starter at right back -- not the position at which he was at first breaking into on the national team but the position at which he ended up starting for the USA after injuries to Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler.
Maurice Edu, on the other hand, was gone by January, sent on loan to Bursaspor in Turkey, and Brek Shea couldn't crack the Stoke game-day lineup after a couple of early appearances after signing at the end of January. The future for the three Americans is up in the air as Stoke fired its manager, Tony Pulis, after the season.
Eric Lichaj made 17 league appearances -- the most since joining Aston Villa in 2008, but he can't get a look from national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. He'll be looking for a new team as he was one of three players Villa did not offer new contracts to.
Sebastian Lletget put injuries and illness behind him to earn a number of appearances on the West Ham United bench and a new contract.
England (League Championship)
GP/G PLAYER, TEAM
29/0 Jonathan Spector, Birmingham City
16/1 Zak Whitbread, Leicester City
14/0 Tim Ream, Bolton Wanderers
10/0 Stuart Holden, Bolton Wanderers/Sheffield Wednesday
5/0 Will Packwood, Birmingham City
2/0 Conor Doyle, Derby County
0/0 Robbie Rogers, Leeds
Holden finally returned to league action two years after suffering a knee injury from a red-card foul by Manchester United's Jonny Evans in the English Premier League. The comeback began with a loan spell to relegation-threatened Sheffield Wednesday -- where he made four starts -- and he came on as a late sub for Bolton Wanderers after his return from the one-month loan. That was good enough for Klinsmann, who has invited him into the national team for the summer.
Injuries or illness impacted other Americans in the League Championship. U.S. U-20 Will Packwood's season at Birmingham City ended with a broken leg in a freak accident. His Birmingham City teammate, Jonathan Spector, suffered an ankle injury the day before he was to join the national team for the March qualifiers. A calf injury kept Zak Whitbread out of the Leicester City lineup, while former U-20 Conor Doyle's campaign was slowed by a bout of appendicitis suffered while Derby County was training in Florida.
Tim Ream did not play for Bolton after March 4 as his already uncertain position in the team wasn't helped by a managerial change from Owen Coyle to Dougie Freedman.
Robbie Rogers' appearances in 2012-13 were at Stevenage in the third level of English soccer. Shortly after his loan spell ended, Leeds United released him.