Ethan Horvath has completed his transfer to Club Brugge. The long-rumored move was made official on Tuesday and will see the 21-year-old American goalkeeper go from Molde, in the Norwegian league, to one of the top teams in Belgium.
This is a big move for Horvath, who isn’t just a prospect. Whereas many young Americans make transfers based entirely on potential and start with his new club’s youth team, Horvath has already proven himself to be a legitimate professional. He has been Molde’s goalkeeper for the better part of the last two seasons and has had some eye-opening performances, including in Champions League qualifying and the Europa League.
Horvath’s strong play in a European first division has made him unquestionably the United States’ top goalkeeping prospect. He even got his first cap for the senior team in the fall, which was extraordinary considering goalkeepers usually take time to develop, but Horvath has been ahead of the curve for years now.
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Going to Club Brugge won’t be easy for Horvath. They are second in the Jupiler League and have conceded the fewest goals in the league. They’re not buying Horvath to slot into the starting lineup right away so he’ll have to force his way in with good play in training and then cup matches. But doing so isn’t exceedingly difficult because the current starting backstop is a 33-year-old with minimal pedigree. It’s not as if he has to knock off a club legend or someone who has a chance to be a long-term mainstay so it may not be long before Horvath is starting for a Champions League caliber club, which Brugge would be if they manage to win the league.
With Tim Howard and Brad Guzan aging, not to mention in less-than-stellar form, the U.S. is desperate for some young goalkeepers to emerge. Bruce Arena may give longer looks to people like Bill Hamid, at least while the likes of 21-year-olds Horvath and Zack Steffen mature, but it’s also possible that someone like Horvath doesn’t need much more seasoning. He’s already making the jump to Club Brugge and, if he can take the starting spot there, he may do so for the national team not long after.