With DeAndre Yedlin set to move to Tottenham Hotspur at some point in 2015 following his £2.5 million signing from the Seattle Sounders in August, it’s clear that MLS is fast-becoming a league littered with ever-growing talent, capable of becoming household names in Europe.
Whether notorious work permit issues would prevent a few of the following five from linking up with the right-back in the Premier League remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that all have the potential to succeed at the highest level, and could well make the move to a club like Spurs in the future.
Bill Hamid (D.C. United)
Having established himself as United’s first-choice goalkeeper aged just 20, Hamid has proven the best shot-stopper in MLS this season, leading the league in save percentage [75%] to help the club finish atop the Eastern Conference.
The 23-year-old American earned his second international cap in Tuesday night’s match against the Republic of Ireland, and would have more were it not for Premier League number ones Tim Howard and Brad Guzan blocking his path since his debut in 2012.
Current Spurs keeper Brad Friedel has spoken in glowing terms of him in the past, and that connection may just lead to something in the future, especially if the club are forced to part with Hugo Lloris at some point.
Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids)
O’Neill is in fact currently in England for a training stint with Sheffield Wednesday, having done the same with Fulham last offseason, but conflicting information is doing the rounds over whether it could lead to a permanent switch.
Regardless, I’d suggest the centre-back could be setting his sights much higher in the not too distant future, with a top-10 Premier League club not out of the question given his undoubted potential.
Aged 21, O’Neill’s breakout 2013 season with the Rapids earned him his first US international call-up last winter, with numerous fans tipping him to compete for a starting spot once the 2018 World Cup rolls around.
However, with dual citizenship in the States and the Republic of Ireland, having moved to Colorado when he was just one, the County Cork-born defender could still opt to represent the Boys in Green, prompting his name to crop up at Jurgen Klinsmann’s press conference this week ahead of the match between the two countries.
Jurgen asked if Shane O’Neill is in his plans. “Yes, he’s in our plans.” When reminded O’Neill is Irish-born, JK “Yes, but he’ll go with us”— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) November 17, 2014
Also capable of filling in at right-back or at defensive midfielder, where he first started his career, O’Neill’s EU passport means he would have a more straightforward time than the average American prospect moving to Europe, and that’s where he will no doubt he heading if he continues to progress towards fulfilling his clear promise.
Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
A slick-passing but tough-tackling holding midfielder, Trapp grew up admiring taskmasters such as Andrea Pirlo, Xabi Alonso and Paul Scholes, and their influence is evident in his game.
Earning the nickname ‘Wily Franchise’ this season, the Ohio-native has already captained his hometown club at 21, while his recent performance in a 3-1 win at the New York Red Bulls even drew praise from opposition skipper and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
“Today they were better than us, there's nothing you can do. Wil Trapp was outstanding today,” the Frenchman told reporters.
“He has a good future ahead of him, he's American, you guys should be happy. Today, I thought he was the difference.”
Boasting a Greek grandfather who immigrated to the States, Trapp is reported to be in the process of acquiring an EU passport, so watch this space.
Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas)
If there’s one player in MLS who can rival DeAndre Yedlin for speed, it’s undoubtedly the ever-improving Castillo.
Aged 22, the Colombian winger’s pace and technical skills have seen him terrorise defenders all season long, as the finished up the 2014 regular-season with a league-leading 237 dribbles attempted [almost twice as much as his nearest rival] and 127 dribbles completed.
Mexican giants Club América have been reported as potential suitors in recent months, but the promising speedster could no doubt end up thriving in a top European league with the right coaching.
Erick Torres (Chivas USA/TBC)
Torres first burst onto the scene with local side Chivas de Guadalajara as a teenager, and drew immediate comparisons to former club icon Javier Hernandez with his finishing instincts.
His impressive performances even lead to rumours of him joining his compatriot at Manchester United in the summer of 2011, but his stock soon fell after first-team opportunities dried up over the following seasons.
However, after being dispatched on loan to sister club Chivas USA last summer, Torres has since been in dazzling form, scoring 22 goals in 44 games, despite a notable lack of service on the league’s perennial bottom-dwellers.
The 21-year-old star striker has even broken into the Mexico national team recently, as a new favourite of manager Miguel Herrera, but a big decision now awaits him on the club level.
With Chivas USA since disbanding for Los Angeles FC to take their place in 2017, their now-former backers Guadalajara would no doubt welcome Torres back to Mexico with open arms, but MLS hold a purchase option in his loan agreement.
The diminutive front man wasn’t eligible for this weeks’ dispersal draft as a result, with contract talks still on-going, but there remains no shortage of European interest in his reported $7 million signature.
His immediate future could well be in the States, but a move across the Atlantic is going to come at some point.