With DeAndre Yedlin already at White Hart Lane, here are three more MLS products who Tottenham Hotspur should be watching closely now the 2015 season is underway.
Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps)
After a testing 2014 season, Manneh’s first two outings of the new campaign have observers believing that the Gambian winger might just be heading for a huge breakout.
Aged 20, Manneh established himself as one of the league’s most exciting prospects during his rookie season after being taken fourth overall in the 2013 SupderDraft, becoming the first-ever teenager to score a hat-trick in MLS during a 4-1 win over the Seattle Sounders.
His exciting performances saw him linked to the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea that winter, per the Daily Star, but the diminutive wide man’s second season failed to lead to the big breakout most were expecting.
He has been tearing full-backs to shreds in the opening weeks of this term, however, and head coach Carl Robinson has been eager to sing his praises.
Speaking to the club’s official website following the 3-1 opening defeat to Toronto FC, the Whitecaps boss said: “He was a joy to watch in the first half, as was the team. If he’d scored three goals on Saturday in that first half then I think people would be saying he’s at that next level.
“He’s got to continue doing what he’s doing. Continue to work hard, continue to learn every day and get fitter, which he is doing.
Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 8, 2015
“He’s no different to any other player,” added Robinson, “but boy, when he’s on he’s exciting to watch."
Those clubs should be keeping a close watch on him over the coming months but one would expect more potential suitors to emerge if he keeps up his current level of form.
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 more than evident in his game.
Earning the nickname “Wily Franchise” since entering MLS in 2013, the Ohio-native has already captained his hometown club at 22, while his starring performance in October’s 3-1 win at the New York Red Bulls even drew praise from opposition skipper Thierry Henry.
“Today they were better than us, there's nothing you can do. Wil Trapp was outstanding today,” the Arsenal legend told MLSSoccer.com.
“He has a good future ahead of him, he's American, you guys should be happy. Today, I thought he was the difference.”
Since receiving his first US cap this winter, Trapp has also started the 2015 season off in stellar fashion, with the weekend’s 2-0 win over Toronto FC seeing him record 118 touches and 101 passes for an 87.1 per cent completion rate.
Eligible for a Greek passport through his grandfather, who emigrated to the States, work permit issues wouldn’t be a problem either in the event of a move to England.
Gyasi Zardes (Los Angeles Galaxy)
Zardes made his US debut alongside Trapp in January’s 3-2 defeat to Chile and, just like the Crew midfielder, he should go on to become an important part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans moving forward.
Signed to a Homegrown contract out of college in December 2012, the CSU Bakersfield product featured on the flanks for most of his debut campaign, when he netted just four times in 27 games, but has since been thriving in a more comfortable role at the head of the attack.
Aged 23, the emerging striker finished the 2014 regular-season as the second-highest American scorer in MLS, with 16 goals in 32 games, and grabbed the opener in December’s 2-1 MLS Cup final win over the New England Revolution.
Strike-partner Robbie Keane holds him in high-regard, too, having told MLSsoccer.com last month: “He played on the left [wing] in the first half, but striker is certainly his best position. He scored a lot of goals last year and he’s only growing with being called up the national team as well.
“[Jurgen] Klinsmann has spoken very, very highly of him and about his attitude in training and the way that he played. He’s only going to get better.
“He’s certainly got the potential [to excel in Europe], but we want to keep him here.”
Blessed with an impressive combination of size, speed, strength and skill, Keane’s wishes could well be crushed if Zardes keeps up his current form, having added another goal to his collection in the weekend’s 2-2 draw at the Portland Timbers.