Five Americans to watch as European teams look to MLS for talent

Written By Harrison Hamm on January 25, 2021

In the past couple of days, it has been confirmed (or at least close to confirmed) that Seattle Sounders star Jordan Morris and promising FC Dallas right back Bryan Reynolds will be making moves to Europe.

Morris will move to Swansea City, a team in fierce competition for promotion from the English Championship. Reynolds is reportedly headed to AS Roma after an offer from Juventus fell through.

The pipeline of MLS players going to Europe is looking more fruitful than ever, so let’s examine some more contenders. We’ll leave out Diego Rossi and his LAFC brethren, who have been mentioned in these articles plenty of times — and rumors have been hard to come by recently. Here are some names to keep an eye on.

Paul Arriola, D.C. United

Swansea are reportedly also interested in Arriola, a teammate of Morris with the USMNT.

Arriola, 25, is a straight-ahead winger who previously played for Tijuana in Mexico and has 34 caps with the full national team. He missed almost the entire 2020 season with a torn ACL, but he played in almost all of United’’s games in the two years before that, and scored in the USMNT’s December friendly against El Salvador.

He provides value as a speedy winger who defends and makes runs at the back-post for goals. His versatility and athleticism make him a good fit for a higher-level league.

Jeremy Ebobisse, Portland Timbers

Ebobisse, a 23-year-old college soccer product, was rumored to be a loan candidate. Portland has for whatever reason been hesitant to completely trust Ebobisse, signing various forwards to take playing time from him and push him to the wing. Despite this apparent reluctance, Ebobisse has been productive, scoring 11 goals in 2019 and eight goals in just 1,000 minutes in 2020.

He acquitted himself fairly well on the wing, but his best position is likely as a true forward. He doesn’t have the dribbling or passing to be a desirable winger at a higher level than MLS. But goal-scoring translates, and Ebobisse could certainly contribute to a team in Europe as a forward. The 2. Bundesliga has been a rumored destination. Given Portland’s recent deal to sign forward Felipe Mora in a permanent transfer, a move for Ebobisse could make sense for both parties.

Young midfielder Eryk Williamson, who earned more playing time and excelled in 2020, is another name to watch.

Cole Bassett, Colorado Rapids

It’s unclear whether the Rapids — who have a shot to actually contend this season — are looking to transfer the 19-year-old Bassett, but if they do, they will have suitors. Bassett is a skilled and creative midfielder who can play in different systems and be productive in front of goal. He put up five goals and five assists last season.

The Rapids may decide to wait on transferring Bassett until the summer or after the 2021 season in order to let Bassett play his way into a better deal. That’s what the Philadelphia Union did with Brenden Aaronson last year, and it paid off handsomely.

Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas

Like Bassett, Pomykal probably isn’t a player who will move in this window. Pomykal’s health is still a question, as he had hip surgery in September that put him out for six months. He has an injury history, so he’ll have to prove he’s back in peak form this season in order to make him a commodity again.

But Pomykal is very talented, and at 21, he has plenty of room to grow. He already has the vision and ball skills to test himself at a higher level. A center midfielder, Pomykal can be an elite centerpiece of a team if given the opportunity.

Gianluca Busio, Sporting KC

At one point, there were rumors that FC Barcelona was interested in the 18-year-old midfielder. Busio is very talented and has been a consistent performer in Kansas City for the past couple of years, an impressive feat considering his age and SKC’s usual affinity for veterans.

Busio is young enough that he can continue growing in MLS and still retain immense value as a future asset. Sporting can wait for the right offer and situation to come along as Busio improves.

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