[MY VIEW] Eddie Johnson, Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu -- all considered the greatest American attackers of their generation -- found themselves on the move again at the end of the January transfer window, unable to crack the
starting lineup in the case of Johnson and Altidore or even a spot on the bench in the case of Adu. This wasn't how it was supposed to be when they made much-publicized moves from MLS to Europe.
Johnson is still only 26, and Altidore and Adu are 21, but their European careers have been a bust. Johnson, a free agent at the end of the season, is on his third loan spell from Fulham -- to Preston North End, last in the English League Championship. The Cottagers paid a reported $5 million for Johnson in 2008 but he has played all of 19 EPL games in his four seasons in England.
Altidore, whose $10 million transfer fee is a record for an American sold by MLS, was also loaned out by Spanish club Villarreal for the third time when he joined Turkish club Bursaspor. Of the three Americans, Jozy is in the best position. Bursaspor, which brought him in on a private jet, is fighting for the league title and his contract is still owned by Villarreal, one of the best teams in La Liga.
As for Adu, he arrived in Europe to much fanfare when he signed with Benfica from Real Salt Lake, but he has jumped from club to club, finishing the season on the bench at Benfica in 2008 and Monaco in 2009. He played more late in the season at Aris last season, but the Greek club has wanted nothing to do with him this season, so he is on the move again, like Altidore to Turkey, but at a more obscure destination, second division club Caykur Rizespor, on the eastern Black Sea.
Other prominent Americans -- Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Oguchi Onyewu -- were also unsettled and moved on loan in January, but they all at least have staked out successful European careers.
For MLS, payoffs on the international transfer market won't come easy. Johnson, Altidore and Adu certainly haven't enhanced the reputation of American soccer in Europe as a producer of attacking talent.