Three MLS players who Everton should be watching over the coming months

With the 2015 MLS season now underway, here are three talents from across the pond who Everton should be keeping a close eye on ahead of the summer transfer rush.

Bill Hamid (D.C. United)

Long-considered one of the most promising talents in MLS, Hamid established himself as D.C. United’s first-choice goalkeeper in 2011, aged just 20, and has since made 116 regular-season appearances for his hometown club.

He experienced his best campaign to date in 2014, posting career highs in both clean sheets [10] and wins [14], as well as leading the league’s starters in save percentage [75%] to help United finish atop the Eastern Conference and win himself the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Earning his second US cap against the Republic of Ireland in November, the Virginia-native would have more were it not for the presence of Tim Howard, Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan and fellow MLS star Nick Rimando but his recent performances have led to suggestions that he could be in contention to start come Russia 2018.

Everton’s number one has even spoken of his compatriot in glowing terms in the past, while his protégée has admitted to once owning the email address ‘YoungTimHoward@ …’ as a teenager.

"Sometimes it's like looking in a mirror,” Howard told ESPN back in 2012. “I see him doing certain things I can vividly remember myself doing, good or bad."

Added Hamid: "A goal of mine is to one day play for a big London club, a big Premiership team like Tottenham, Arsenal or Chelsea.

“In that respect, I definitely lean on his advice and his words. I look up to him as a mentor."

Having trained with West Bromwich Albion during two previous offseason training stints, Hamid has experience of working in a Premier League environment and, with Howard drawing criticism for his performances this term, perhaps the man who he’s helped mentor could be brought in and groomed as his potential replacement?

Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids)

O’Neill trained with Sheffield Wednesday during the MLS offseason but, having done the same in 2013 with then-Premier League strugglers Fulham, there’s no doubt that he could develop into a defender capable of making the grade at Goodison Park.

Aged 21, the emerging centre-back has been called up to the USA’s past two winter training camps after a breakout 2013 campaign, although he is still to earn his first senior cap and, having been born in Ireland, could even represent Martin O’Neill’s men.

Also capable of filling in at right-back or at defensive midfielder, where he first started his career, his EU passport means he would have a more straightforward time than the average American prospect in moving to Europe and that’s where he will be heading soon if he continues to progress towards fulfilling his clear potential.

Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids)

O’Neill’s Colorado teammate, Powers also picked up his potential ticket to Europe this winter in the form of an Italian passport and, having been overlooked for a senior US call-up since a stellar rookie season in 2013, has admitted that he’s open to representing the Azzurri.

Drafted out of Notre Dame as a defensive midfielder, the former Under-20 international has since morphed into an all-round, Steven Gerrard-like talisman, picking up five goals and six assists in his first MLS campaign to win the Rookie of the Year award ahead of now-Tottenham Hotspur defender DeAndre Yedlin.

He added another five goals and nine assists to his collection in 2014, while captaining the team on several occasions, and stood out as one of the few bright spots as Pablo Mastroeni’s side finished in a disappointing eighth-place in the Western Conference.

Now aged 24, the time might be right for Powers to make the switch across the Atlantic and, if he manages to impress over the first half of the season, then potential suitors are sure to come knocking.

However, how well the fact he’s a self-admitted Liverpool fans would go down with Everton supporters remains to be seen.

Speaking to US Soccer in 2009, he said: “Liverpool is my team and Steven Gerrard is my favorite player. Some people say I play like him, and I guess my strength as a player is getting on both sides of the ball. I don’t try to model my game after anyone though.”

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