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American Players in Europe: The Best XI, from Davies to Wingo | Football

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AAs the European calendar officially switches to pre-season for the 2022-23 season (and well into the never-ending transfer season, sometimes the best season), let’s take one last look at the 2021-22 campaign for Americans and Canadians in the Foreign.

Here is an XI of the best Americans and Canadians in Europe from the 2021-22 campaign.

Goalkeeper: Josh Cohen, Maccabi Haifa

The most accomplished American goalkeeper in Europe is not on the national team’s radar. Josh Cohen, a star for Maccabi Haifa in Israel, wrapped up another title-winning season this year. He was even named the league’s Player of the Year two seasons ago.

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Perhaps Cohen can see the national team in a post-World Cup camp?

Under consideration: Milan Borjan, Red Star Belgrade; Zack Steffen, Manchester City

Borjan won the Serbian Super League as a starter again for Red Star, while Steffen was part of another dominant Manchester City side, although he was firmly the back-up. He is about to sign on loan from Middlesbrough.

Right back: Henry Wingo, Ferencvaros

Hungarian giants Ferencváros won another league title last season and competed in the Europa League. Often his starting right back was American Henry Wingo.

It is always a good reminder that development is not linear and that there are a myriad of successful career paths. This summer there was some interest from MLS clubs in bringing him back as well.

In consideration: Sergino Dest, Barcelona; Reggie CannonBoavista

Sergiño Dest receives an honorable mention almost by default, but in the past, simply being in the Barcelona squad made him an obvious choice. But the rollercoaster ride of whether or not Barcelona were using him as a scapegoat from week to week was enough to keep him out.

Central defender: Tim Ream, Fulham

The Fulham yo-yo returned straight to the Premier League, with Tim Ream, who often wore the captain’s armband, at the helm. He started all 46 games in the physically demanding Championship, guiding Fulham to the title.

Not bad for the 34-year-old. He now he has made 256 appearances for Fulham.

In consideration: Steven Vitoria, Moreirense; Chris RichardsHoffenheim

Richards has battled some injuries again this year and returns to Bayern Munich after his loan to Hoffenheim, although it seems very likely that he will leave again. Vitoria, 35, is a free agent after his contract with Moreirense expired, making 18 appearances this year.

Centre-Back: Cameron Carter-Vickers, Celtic

Another title winner, Cameron Carter-Vickers, was a defensive anchor for Celtic when they won the league. He started all but one of the games he was available for and scored a crucial goal against Rangers late in the season to help seal the title.

Carter-Vickers (finally) found a permanent home after years of being loaned out by Tottenham, with Celtic officially signing the American this summer after his loan expired.

Under consideration: John Brooks, Wolfsburg; Erik Palmer-Brown, Troyes

Despite all the polarizing talk about Brooks and his current (lack of) USMNT status, he made 31 appearances for Wolfsburg. But apparently they’re not convinced either, having decided to let him walk long ago when his contract expired this summer. He is currently without a club.

Left back: Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich

Still widely regarded as Concacaf’s best player, Alphonso Davies missed some time this year, but as usual, he was in the elite when he was on the Bayern Munich pitch.

For left backs in the top five leagues, Davies ranks in the 90th percentile and above in nearly every major attacking and defensive category. He moves the ball forward, creates shots and completes dribbles at an incredible rate. Even though he was limited to 22 appearances in BuLi, he is still the king.

Under consideration: Antonee Robinson, Fulham; Sam Adekugbe, Hatayspor

Robinson had a wonderful season with Fulham, the starting left-back for their title-winning side, adding 2g/4a in the process.

alphonse davies
For left backs in the top five leagues, Alphonso Davies ranks in the 90th percentile and above in nearly every major attacking and defensive category. Photograph: Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images

Defensive midfielder: Stephen Eustaquio, FC Porto

Canadian metronome Stephen Eustaquio started the season at Pacos in Portugal and moved to FC Porto in January, where he won his first league title and first domestic cup.

Let’s see if he can break into the Porto XI more regularly in 2022-23.

Under consideration: Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig; Atiba Hutchinson, Besiktas

I am convinced that Hutchinson could play until he is 48 years old if he wanted to. Adams has never won a regular starting role with Leipzig and is close to a move to Leeds United.

Box-to-box midfielder: Weston McKennie, Juventus

Before suffering a broken foot in February, Weston McKennie was in the form of his life for club and country. He was a regular in midfield for Juve and a leading figure with the USMNT.

The broken foot limited him to 21 Serie A appearances, but McKennie is already fit and ready for pre-season from day one. Expectations are high this year.

In consideration: Luca de la Torre, Heracles; Gianluca Busio, Venice

De la Torre (and Yunus Musah) did not perform on stage like McKennie at Juventus (and perhaps showed their best form for the USMNT). Busio played 29 games in Serie A, but could not avoid relegation.

Attacking midfielder: Brenden Aaronson, RB Salzburg

A leading figure in another title-winning season for RB Salzburg, Brenden Aaronson had another stellar season in Europe.

His traditional stats won’t draw the attention of a No. 10 (4g/5a), but the 21-year-old does a lot more at an elite level. Philadelphia Union athletic director Ernst Tanner called him “the perfect transition player,” as he was in the 99th percentile in pressure for his Champions League spot and also in the 99th percentile in distance covered.

Aaronson has since made a $30m transfer to Leeds United, where tactics should once again highlight his best qualities.

In consideration: Gio Reyna, Borussia Dortmund

The traditional 10 is a light position for the Americans and Canadians in Europe this year, in large part because, unfortunately, Reyna did not play enough due to various injuries this year.

Brenden Aaronson
Brenden Aaronson, centre, from FC Red Bull Salzburg has since made a $30m transfer to Leeds United. Photograph: Jasmin Walter/FC Red Bull Salzburg/Getty Images

Forward: Jordan Pefok, BSC Young Boys

BSC Young Boys finished a disappointing third in Switzerland, but Jordan Pefok took the league’s Golden Boot with 22 goals (and four assists).

Pefok moved to Union Berlin this summer as he continues to climb the career ladder that originally took off in the French second tier with Reims.

In consideration: Tim Weah, Lille; Tajon Buchanan, Club Brugge

Weah enjoyed his best season with Lille to date (3g/5a), Buchanan had some strong moments in his first half of the season with Brugge.

Forward: Cyle Larin, Beşiktaş

This year was not the most productive for Cyle Larin in terms of goals, but the Canadian talisman still scored a respectable tally of seven goals while dominating Concacaf when on international duty.

Larin has just signed for Club Brugge on a free transfer after his contract with Beşiktaş expired this summer, joining CanMNT teammate Buchanan.

In consideration: Christian Pulisic, Chelsea; Liam Millar, FC Basel

Pulisic was in and (mostly) out of Chelsea’s starting eleven this year and played all over the pitch. Millar had a respectable 7g/2a in his debut campaign in the Swiss league.

Forward: Jonathan David, Lille

The start of the year in France for Jonathan David was electric, and although it ended with less and less frequent goal celebrations, he finished with 15 goals in 32 starts. He has been earmarked for a big money move elsewhere this summer.

Under consideration: Haji Wright, Antalyaspor; Christian Ramirez, Aberdeen

Wright’s explosion in the Turkish top flight with 14 goals in less than 2,000 minutes landed him in the selection. Although he calmed down in the second half of the season, Ramírez finished just three goals away from the Golden Boot run in Scotland.

Coach: Jesse Marsch, Leeds

The start of the European season was tough. RB Leipzig sacked Marsch very quickly… but the way he rescued a burnt, injury-plagued and sunken Leeds ship for Premier League safety makes him the obvious choice here.

In consideration: Pellegrino Matarazzo, Stuttgart

He really is the only other option and there is a real argument that he should be ahead of Marsch by spending the entire season with Stuttgart and narrowly avoiding relegation from the Bundesliga.

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