U.S. Abroad: Mixed Fortunes

FREDDY ADU. Jerome de Bontin, the American president of AS Monaco, signed Adu with the hope that the 19-year-old starlet would be an ambassador for American soccer in France. "He is the leading figure of a new generation of U.S. players," de Bontin said of Adu. "He is going to be an ambassador for the United States. I can picture Freddy Adu, for instance, as the one player who can do for U.S. soccer what Greg Lemond did for U.S. cycling when he won his first Tour de France." Through mid-October, Adu has unfortunately been a disappointment, earning the No. 8 spot on France Football's list of early-season "flops." He only played 44 minutes in four appearances off the bench.

JOZY ALTIDORE. At 18, Altidore commanded a record transfer fee for an American when Spanish club Villarreal paid $10 million for the young Red Bulls striker. Competition is fierce for playing time on the Yellow Submarine, whose frontline includes Italy star Giuseppe Rossi, who like Altidore was born in New Jersey. Jozy came on in Villarreal's home opener against Deportivo Coruna and played well in a 1-0 victory. But it was his only appearance in the first six games at Villarreal, which won five in a row to share La Liga lead with neighbor Valencia.

CARLOS BOCANEGRA. After a horrific debut, the U.S. national team captain has settled in nicely at French club Rennes. In his first game, Rennes gave up four goals at home but somehow managed to tie Marseille. The Rennes defense has come such a long way that two months later Rennes shut out Lyon, 3-0, handing the seven-time French league champion its first loss in eight games. Bocanegra has shown that he is comfortable in the middle of the defense or at left back and that he has a nose for goal. He scored his first goal for Rennes in a 2-1 win over Twente in the UEFA Cup.

MICHAEL BRADLEY. An American record 15 league goals with Heerenveen in 2007-08 made Bradley a target of clubs across Europe. That he would become a free agent after the 2008-09 season forced the Dutch club's hand. Heerenveen sold Bradley to Germany's Borussia Moenchengladbach. While the transfer fee, estimated at $3 million to $4 million, was significantly less than what had been speculated, it was certainly more than the $100,000 Heerenveen is reported to have paid MLS for him in 2005. Bradley's adjustment has been hindered by a trip to the Olympics and three trips back to Concacaf for World Cup qualifying. Through mid-October, he had played in only one Bundesliga game.

DAN CALIFF. Califf left Aalborg, which he captained to Denmark's 2008 SAS Liga title, and the chance to play in the UEFA Champions League, for a move to tiny FC Midtjylland, which finished a distant second to Aalborg last season. A free agent, Califf didn't like the contract offer he got and jumped at the chance to join the Wolves, who have their sights on the 2009 Superligaen title. In the season opener, the 28-year-old Califf returned to Aalborg and led FCM to a 2-1 win over his old club. In mid-October, Midtjylland was fourth, three points out of first place, while Aalborg languished near the bottom of the Superligaen.

MAURICE EDU. Edu's development, from MLS rookie to U.S. international, was quick. Less than two years after leaving the University of Maryland, which he helped win the 2005 NCAA title, Edu joined heralded Scottish club Rangers, hooking up with the U.S. teammate DaMarcus Beasley. Shortly after the Olympics, where Edu started at center back for the USA, Toronto FC accepted a $5 million transfer fee for Edu. In his first two months in Scotland, Edu was limited to one league start.

BENNY FEILHABER. Feilhaber became an instant U.S. hero when his golazo gave the United States a 2-1 victory over Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup final. The ensuing 16 months have brought disappointment. A move to Derby County from Hamburg was seen as a chance to jumpstart his European career. Unfortunately, Feilhaber rarely played for the Rams, who finished with the worst record in the history of the English Premier League, and was released in August. He joined fellow American Jeremiah White at AGF Aarhus of Denmark's SAS Liga, but he only played in one of its first nine games.

BRAD FRIEDEL. The 37-year-old keeper admitted he had mixed feelings about leaving Blackburn Rovers for Aston Villa. After all, he was an institution at Blackburn. "Making this move was a very easy decision and a very difficult decision to make all at the same time," he said. "I'd been at Blackburn eight years and this was going to be my ninth season. The fans and everyone at the club have been terrific with me." After the first two months of the EPL season, Villa is in top four and contending for a Champions League berth. Its success is in no small part due to Friedel. "I think Brad Friedel is an immense signing," says Villa manager Martin O'Neill. "I'm absolutely delighted and he's already had an influence on the players in front of him. He's talking them through things, telling them where to go."

CLARENCE GOODSON. Norway has become the favorite home of Americans abroad. Goodson was one of 10 players who moved to Norway from MLS, the USL-1 or college ranks this season. Shortly after earning his first cap for the USA in January against Sweden, the 6-foot-4 Goodson joined second division Start instead of moving to the expansion San Jose Earthquakes. He has been a force at Start, which was in contention for promotion as the 2008 season neared its end.

BRAD GUZAN. After being turned down for a work permit at Aston Villa in the winter, Guzan won his appeal this summer and moved from Chivas USA to Villa. In the meantime, Villa had signed another American keeper, Brad Friedel, so Guzan will be content for the moment being the No. 2 keeper. Still only 24, Guzan is also the No. 2 keeper on the U.S. national team, behind Everton keeper Tim Howard. His only appearance to date with Villa came in a 1-0 loss at home to QPR in the English League Cup.

EDDIE JOHNSON. Johnson arrived at Fulham on a $6 million transfer from the Kansas City Wizards in January, but it has been all downhill since then. Almost nine months later, he still had not scored a goal in England. He played six games for the Cottagers in the 2008-09 EPL season - none after March - and was loaned out to Cardiff City of the second division. His playing time has again been limited - only four appearances off the bench in 10 league games.

(This article originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of Soccer America magazine.)






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