Friday night’s news that U.S. midfielder Benny Feilhaber had signed with MLS—to be assigned to a team by tomorrow via the MLS allocation rankings—got us thinking about what foreign-based American players would do well to follow the former UCLA walk-on’s example and join the U.S. circuit.
Here is our Top 5:
DaMarcus Beasley, Hannover 96: The speedy winger has been on the national scene since 1999, when he won the Silver Ball at the U-17 World Cup, so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that he’s only 28. At that age, he could still summon a decent contract to return to the States. A few more years rusting in Germany and his price will go down.
Mike Grella, Leeds United: The former All-America at Duke signed with Leeds despite being drafted by MLS in 2009. Since then he’s received sporadic playing time with the club, gone on loan to League One sides Carlisle United and Swindon Town, and made an abortive loan move to Scottish side Motherwell. A transfer to MLS could not only get him much needed playing time—it could also simplify the poor guy’s life.
Frank Simek, Carlisle United: The St. Louis–bred former Arsenal youth product has five caps with the U.S. national team. He’s still only 26, and the most direct route to more U.S. appearances, it seems to us, is MLS—not the third tier in England.
Jose Torres, Pachuca: The skillful, diminutive midfielder gets plenty of PT in the Mexican League, but his game could use some grit. Put him alongside, say, Geoff Cameron in the midfield of his home-state Houston Dynamo, and see if Major League Soccer’s physical style doesn’t improve his game.
Marcus Hahnemann, Wolverhampton: Unlike the others on this list, Hahnemann is not in his prime. But goalkeepers typically have longer careers than outfield players (see Friedel, Brad), and MLS could use another solid veteran between the pipes. Maybe he takes over in Seattle—where he played from 1994 to ’96—when Kasey Keller retires after the 2011 season.