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Banner summer for Americans abroad

BANNER SUMMER
Dempsey made the switch to Tottenham on the final day of the transfer window.
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Ives Galarcep

Ives Galarcep is a 14-year veteran of the American soccer beat. He created and operates the popular American soccer blog, Soccer By Ives, which was voted Best American Soccer Blog by US Soccer in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Ives was also voted Best Football Writer by SoccerLens in 2010. 
 

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For so many years, American soccer fans have watched Europe’s top club competition and have been left hoping that the day would come when more Americans—and more US men’s national team players—would be taking part in UEFA Champions League.

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After a nerve-wracking and tumultuous transfer deadline day, American fans will not only see more US players competing in club soccer’s biggest competition, they will also see more American field players competing for top clubs throughout Europe.

Clint Dempsey’s deadline day move to Tottenham and Oguchi Onyewu’s move to Spanish Champions League side Malaga helped provide the perfect finishing touches on an outstanding summer in Europe for American players.

Dempsey joined Onyewu, Michael Bradley (AS Roma), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Maurice Edu (Stoke City), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna) and Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg) as Americans who made important moves this summer. A wave of transactions that not only provides clear evidence that opportunities are increasing and improving for American players, but will also allow American soccer fans to watch more and more of their favorite players competing in high-level competitions.

Dempsey’s desire to also play Champions League soccer led to what at times was an ugly and drawn out divorce from Fulham this summer, but his push for greener pastures ultimately resulted in what could wind up being a dream move. He joins a big-spending Tottenham side that was competing in Champions League just a year ago, and would have been competing this year of Chelsea had not won the Champions League title last season.

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At times, Dempsey looked like he might not be able to secure the big move he and so many felt he deserved after scoring 23 goals in all competitions for Fulham, but Tottenham swooped in late and made an almost $10 million move for the 29-year-old US national team star. The transfer not only gives Dempsey a much better chance of realizing his Champions League dream, it will also allow him to stay in London, where he has spent the past five years plying his trade.

Onyewu’s loan move to Malaga was probably the most surprising of Friday’s changes for Americans. After weeks of speculation about his future with Portuguese power Sporting Lisbon, Onyewu’s club future seemed to be in some doubt.

But he managed to secure a move that makes him the only American player competing in the Spanish Premier League, where he will have a chance to face off against clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona. Not to mention the fact Malaga is also competing in the UEFA Champions League, where Onyewu will have the chance to face former club AC Milan.

Onyewu’s move to Malaga means that four Americans will be taking part in the Champions League group stage just a year after there were no Americans in that stage of the competition. Jermaine Jones, Michael Parkhurst and Sacha Kljestan will all be competing in the group stage along with Onyewu, a fact that should mark a source of pride for USA fans and some satisfaction for US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has been vocal about the need for more Americans playing in the competition.

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Some might think that having four Americans in the Champions League group stage is just an anomaly, but the fact is Americans are beginning to secure moves to better club teams. Earlier this summer Bradley completed his move to Italian power AS Roma, and US teammates Cameron and Edu completed moves to Stoke City to increase the number of Americans playing in Europe’s most high-profile league.

It is no surprise that Americans are finding better opportunities in Europe these days. It is the product of the efforts of pioneers like Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller and Claudio Reyna, as well as the more recent success in Europe of Americans like Dempsey, Tim Howard, Bradley and Landon Donovan. European clubs believe in American players now more than ever, and are now starting to prove it by spending money on them.

The future is also looking bright as some younger Americans are also finding success overseas. Jozy Altidore is coming off an outstanding season with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar and 21-year-old Josh Gatt is lighting it up with Norwegian champions Molde. Gatt and Molde will also be competing in the Europa League group stage alongside fellow US national team youngster Boyd at Rapid Vienna and Diskerud at Rosenborg. Both Boyd and Diskerud secured their moves to their new clubs this summer, and each has responded by delivering vital goals to help their teams reach the Europa League group stage.

With more players performing on better and better teams, the upcoming European season is shaping up to be the best season yet for the US national team player pool. This is a season when American fans will be able to watch the UEFA Champions League and Europa League and have more countrymen to root for than ever before.

Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FOXSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the US National Team.

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