Mixed news for Americans abroad
Landon Donovan was one of the U.S. stars in Europe last season, sparkling for Everton. Unfortunately for the Toffees, he returned to MLS. Brad Friedel, Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey were a few other standouts. Oguchi Onyewu, meanwhile, endured a nightmare at Milan, while Charlie Davies' promising campaign at Sochaux was cut short.
As the European season gets set to kick off, we examine the prospects of some Americans plying their trade across the pond.
Oguchi Onyewu, defense: Since the World Cup ended, Onyewu's priority has been to make sure he's in top shape for the forthcoming campaign with A.C. Milan. He told the Washington Post that while he's overcome the serious knee injury he sustained in October, the knee figures to be sore periodically. Onyewu made one appearance for Milan last season, so there's only one way to go. Or is there? Who knows what the new manager has in mind?
Jozy Altidore, forward: Altidore showed spurts of promise at Hull City. He was a handful for central defenders, and his hold up play impressed. Conversely, Altidore didn't score enough and had a few disciplinary problems. If he stays at Villarreal, the club that loaned him out last season, who knows how much playing time he'll get.
Charlie Davies, forward: Davies is back playing with Sochaux following the major injuries he suffered in a car accident in October. That's good news. Sochaux brass, though, say Davies (understandably) isn't yet the same player he was prior to the accident. Davies might be limited to coming off the bench the first half of the season.
Tim Howard, goalkeeper: Howard has done little wrong since joining Everton from Manchester United in 2006. He was mostly solid last season. However, for the first time at Goodison Park, Howard has serious competition in Slovakia international Jan Mucha, who had a solid World Cup. Mucha said he didn't move to England (from Poland) to sit on the bench.
Brad Guzan, goalkeeper: Speaking of sitting on the bench, Guzan figures to be doing plenty of that -- again -- at Aston Villa, especially after No. 1 Brad Friedel, 39, made his intentions clear in July. "Age is no issue at the moment, and the experience helps," Friedel said. "I feel physically the same way as I did when I was 25." Guzan showed off his excellent reflexes just this week when he came in for the U.S. in the second half against Brazil. If not for him, the U.S. could have lost by a few more goals. Why hasn't Guzan demanded a loan move?
Clint Dempsey, midfield: Dempsey was linked with Milan in the transfer window. In the end, it looks like he's sticking around at Fulham. A shame, given Dempsey has the tools -- and scores enough goals -- to move to a bigger club. He'll be playing under a fourth regular manager in three years at Fulham, now that Mark Hughes has replaced Roy Hodgson.
Jonathan Spector, defense: Spector must have been thoroughly disappointed at the World Cup. He didn't play a single minute. He struggled at West Ham last season, like most everyone else at Upton Park. With left back Herita Ilunga returning from injury, Spector's prospects look grim for starting many games this season. He could still be on the move.
Stuart Holden, midfield: Holden didn't see much action at Bolton after signing in the winter transfer window, courtesy of a nasty tackle by Dutchman Nigel de Jong. When he did play, manager Owen Coyle seemed impressed. Holden hopes to be a starter, and his set piece deliveries won't hurt his chances.
Maurice Edu, midfield: Finally injury free, Edu has a chance to nail down the holding midfielder slot at Rangers after Kevin Thomson's transfer to Middlesbrough. Rangers are favored to clinch a third straight league title in the SPL, even if they've lost a few players, as Celtic doesn't look that great.
London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.