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Transfer window preview: 9 USMNT players that could change clubs in January
United States

Transfer window preview: 9 USMNT players that could change clubs in January

Published Dec. 21, 2023 5:07 p.m. ET

The January transfer window swings open a little more than a week from now, and a number of U.S. men's national teamers figure to be on the move.

Here are nine Americans who could be playing for new clubs come early 2024.

M/F Brenden Aaronson

Current club: Union Berlin (Germany)


Potential destination: Leeds United (England)

Aaronson's season-long loan from Leeds to Union hasn't gone as planned. The 23-year-old has no goals or assists in 19 Bundesliga and Champions League games, hasn't started since October, and has logged just 505 minutes in all.

As such, reports from both England and Germany have Leeds recalling Aaronson early this winter — either to help in their fight for promotion to the Premier League or to loan him somewhere else. Either way, it appears the former Red Bull Salzburg attacker will be on the move next month.

M Johnny Cardoso

Current club: Internacional (Brazil)

Potential destination: Real Betis (Spain)

The New Jersey-born, Brazil-raised central midfielder and Gregg Berhalter favorite has been linked to Betis since October, when ESPN reported that a January transfer to the La Liga club for more than $6 million had been signed off on by all parties.

Assuming it happens, it's a great destination for Cardoso, 22. Betis sits seventh in Spain's top division, and while breaking into legendary manager Manuel Pellegrini's lineup mid-season won't be easy, there's a spot available after starter Guido Rodriguez broke his leg earlier this month.

F Cade Cowell

Current club: San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

Potential destination: Bologna (Italy)

In August, San Jose turned down Bologna's offer to take Cowell on loan with a $3 million option to buy, according to multiple reports at the time. The Bay Area native was coming off a busy summer on the international stage; he had three goals for the U.S. at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina, then was part of the senior USMNT at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, scoring in the Americans group stage win over Trinidad and Tobago.

It's not clear if the Serie A side will come back to the table this winter after Cowell managed just one more goal in his final 17 games for club and country. Cowell started just two of the Quakes final six matches of 2023. There will still be interest in the 20-year-old elsewhere if not.

GK Ethan Horvath

Current club: Nottingham Forest (England)

Potential destination: Unknown

Horvath is in a terrible spot with Forest, where's he's a distant third on the depth chart behind Greece international Odysseas Vlachodimos and USMNT teammate Matt Turner and not even eligible to play should one or both get hurt after being left off the club's Premier League roster's before the season.

That is to say: Horvath must find a new club next month to have any hope of being considered for Gregg Berhalter's Copa América squad. Where could he land? A drop down to England's Championship probably makes the most sense. Horvath, 28, is a proven commodity in the second-tier, having started 44 times for Luton last season as the Hatters gained promotion to the Prem.

M Aidan Morris

Current club: Columbus Crew (MLS)

Potential destination: Unknown

He hoisted the MLS Cup earlier this month for the second time in his young career, playing an integral role in the Crew's 2-1 triumph in the final against LAFC. Morris signed an extension in April that keeps him under contract to his hometown club through 2026. But he's got nothing left to prove domestically and has been open about his desire to eventually play in Europe.

Given his age (22) it might be now or never — though Columbus could prefer to let him play in the 2024 Olympics in the hope that his value rises. There are some concerns about Morris' speed at the highest level, but he's more than capable of excelling in a mid-tier circuit like in Belgium or the Netherlands.

M/F Gio Reyna

Current club: Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Potential destination: Unknown

Like with Horvath, Reyna needs a change of scenery ASAP. The 21-year-old  has long since recovered from the leg fracture that limited him early this season yet is still hardly featuring for coach Edin Terzić. Reyna appeared in just two of BVB's six Champions League group stage matches and played just 228 minutes through the first half of the Bundesliga season. Worse, his time on the field is actually decreasing. That's an untenable situation for the youngster.

A loan in January therefore seems likely, with clubs in Germany, Spain and Italy reportedly interested in a short-term solution. Best case? Reyna finds his feet elsewhere in early 2024, rides that momentum into the Copa América, then leaves Dortmund permanently next summer for a pretty penny.

D Miles Robinson

Current club: Out of contract

Potential destinations: FC Cincinnati (MLS), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)

Robinson is headed out of Atlanta and has long been linked to PSV, where former U.S. Soccer sporting director Earnie Stewart is the director of football and where the center back's USMNT teammates Sergino Dest, Ricardo Pepi and Malik Tillman already play.

PSV is 16-0 in league play and qualified for the knockout stage of the UEFA Champions League. But while it might be hard for Robinson to break into a successful lineup immediately, he could replace Olivier Boscagli or Jerdy Schouten next season if the club sells either during the summer transfer window. Robinson could also stay in MLS; The Athletic reported that Cincinnati is courting the 26-year-old free agent. FCC appears willing to offer a salary comparable to the $2 million fellow U.S. central defender Walker Zimmerman got from Nashville last season — a figure Atlanta has been unwilling to match.

D John Tolkin

Current club: New York Red Bulls (MLS)

Potential destination: Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)

The left back had his best season as a professional this season, winning his first three USMNT caps along the way. The odds of Tolkin, 21, leaving for Europe next month are still probably less than 50-50. But if he does make the leap, it could be to the Red Bulls' sister club in Mozart's home town.

Salzburg manager Gerhard Struber loved coaching Tolkin during their three-plus seasons together in New York. And Struber eventually must find a replacement for current left back and team captain Andreas Ulmer, who turns 39 next year.

F Brandon Vazquez

Current club: FC Cincinnati (MLS)

Potential destination: Brentford (England)

The Telegraph reported this month that the 25-year-old target striker is on the January wish list of Premier League Brentford, which sources stateside told FOX Sports is accurate. 

The fee would be in the $10 million range, the sources said — roughly the same figure that German side Borussia Mönchengladbach had turned down by FCC over the summer. Cincinnati's priority was winning MLS Cup then, but the club made it clear to Vazquez, whose contract runs through 2025, that they wouldn't stand in his way after the 2023 season. Despite interest from other Bundesliga teams, the Bees are the clear front-runner right now.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men's and women's national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.


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