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Lack of USMNT players starting in Premier League cause for concern


This is something which has been eating away at me for a little while and I’m sure many others are concerned.

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Just where have the U.S. players in the Premier League gone and will they ever come back?

As of right now, there are just five U.S. national team players who are first team players in the Premier League’s 20 teams, plus a smattering of talented youngsters in academy and reserve squads.

Of those five only one is starting regularly at the time of writing: Geoff Cameron.

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Cameron, 30, has been a regular starter at Stoke City over the past four seasons since he arrived at the Britannia Stadium from Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo. He has made 132 appearances for Stoke and if it wasn’t for a few niggling injuries over the past two campaigns he’d be over the 150 mark. The former Houston star is a lone ranger right now. He’s excelled at right back, in central defense and central midfield under both Tony Pulis and now Mark Hughes at Stoke and after missing the last six weeks with an ankle injury the Potters have missed his presence, experience and ball-playing expertise on the backline.

With Cameron nearing a return to full fitness — he has returned to training and should be available for Stoke’s clash with Newcastle next week — he’ll soon be back to being the only American playing consistently in the Premier League. He’s an integral part of the U.S. national team and that’s because he’s playing week in, week out in the most competitive league in the world.

What has happened to the others in the PL?

Tim Howard, 36, has recently lost his place at Everton to Joel Robles after suffering a minor injury. Howard has been in the PL for over a decade and his credentials don’t need to be backed up but with some sections of the Everton support critical of his displays this season, it seems like his time in England’s top-flight may be coming to an end. A move to the Colorado Rapids is edging ever close and looks likely in May and his manager Roberto Martinez hardly dismissed that notion last week.

Brad Guzan, 31, has lost his starting spot at Aston Villa and the goalkeeper will be playing in England’s second-tier next season as Villa look doomed to relegation. DeAndre Yedlin, 22, has been loaned out by Tottenham Hotspur to Sunderland and has only made a handful of appearances for the struggling Black Cats this season. Things are looking up for Yedlin as he played in the 2-2 draw at Liverpool and started in the 2-1 win against Manchester United last time out, but it still seems like a spot as a regular starter for a solid PL club is some way away for the Seattle Sounders product.

After that you have Matt Miazga, 20, who has just arrived at Chelsea in January but is highly unlikely to play a starring role for the Blues anytime soon and will likely be loaned out to gain experience. After Miazga there are two promising youngsters in the PL academy setups who have both been loaned out this season in Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem and Sunderland’s Lyden Gooch, plus Cameron Carter-Vickers making waves at Tottenham Hotspur but then… nothing but prospects.


This downward trend of Americans playing in the Premier League is down to many things. Maybe Major League Soccer is finally able to keep the better players at its disposal (Matt Besler and Jordan Morris are just two who’ve turned down moves to Europe in recent years) which is great for the domestic league, but if you look through North America’s top-flight you’ll also see it littered with USMNTers who called it quits in the PL. They all wanted to make it England but in the case of Brek Shea, Maurice Edu and a growing number of others, it hasn’t worked out.

Jozy Altidore‘s poor record in England with Hull and Sunderland is well documented, while Michael Bradley could never get interest from a PL club despite shining at AS Roma and his brief stint at Aston Villa on loan didn’t work out the way anybody wanted. Clint Dempsey, 32, obviously was one of the most successful American players to ever suit up in the PL, if not the most successful, as Deuce produce goals and played regularly at Fulham and even at Spurs for a while. Although, Dempsey was on the outs at Tottenham before he decided to move back to MLS but that was more about a personal decision to move back to the U.S. than a playing one.

The point I’m trying to make here is that the number of U.S. national team players in England’s top-flight has dwindled drastically in recent years and that should be worrying to fans of the Nats. Worse still, it may become tougher for non-EU players to get work permits in the coming years with the English FA hoping to tighten up its regulations and this trend could continue. Unless a young American player has a European passport then then likelihood of them breaking through in the PL seems ridiculously slim. That’s bad news for the U.S. national team.

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The era of Carlos Bocanegra, Brian McBride, Stuart Holden, Brad Friedel and Howard being regulars in the PL are over. Now, only one regular outfield player (Cameron) remains. Purely for soccer fans in the U.S. who love the Premier League, of which there are plenty, is it concerning that the number of U.S. national team players in the PL is so small? It could point to a lack of quality in the national team which sometimes happens in a certain cycle. There are plenty USMNT men in the Bundesliga, Alejandro Bedoya is excelling in Ligue 1 and of course there’s a whole host of USMNTers in the Championship, England’s second-tier, but perhaps we just have to accept that despite the best efforts of Jurgen Klinsmann and his coaching staff, young American players are no longer getting chances to come to England.

If it’s from a pure quality standpoint then that’s the most worrying aspect for Klinsmann. The fact that this downturn in U.S. players making an impact in England has coincided with a year of struggle in 2015 for the U.S. may be more than a coincidence. Or maybe not, it’s hard to measure player development in one league over another but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if the U.S. had 8-10 regular starters in the PL compared to MLS then it would obviously be a much better thing for the USMNT. Obviously. With the level of play and strength of opposition, it just makes sense. MLS is getting there but every promising young talent in the league would want to head to the PL and make a difference if he could but the reality is that hardly any are getting the chance to do that anymore.

There’s many reasons for that, but the fact that the most-watched league in the world — with arguably the highest concentration of top clubs among its 20 members — has just five USMNT players in it, and only one of those is a regular starter, should be a cause for huge concern.

Lampard: ‘We need more personality’

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Frank Lampard‘s baptism of fire as Chelsea boss continued on Sunday, as the Blue coughed up a 1-0 lead and were lucky to draw at home against Leicester City.

[ MORE: Pulisic watch. How did he do?

After being hammered at Manchester United in their opening PL game last weekend, then losing to Liverpool on penalty kicks in the Super Cup final in Istanbul on Wednesday, Chelsea started superbly against Leicester but only led 1-0 thanks to academy graduate Mason Mount scoring his first goal for the club.

Speaking to our partners Sky Sports after the game, Lampard revealed he was not happy at all with the second half display and urged his young side to show more personality on the pitch.

“It was a really good start, fantastic, and we could’ve been two or three goals up. We were quick, bright, energetic, then we allowed Leicester back in the game and in the second half I was not very happy, we offered them too many chances on the counter attack,” Lampard said. “We can only look at ourselves. In all our matches I have been delighted in big passages of having the ball but we didn’t have enough angles or options to keep the ball moving. We have to have more personality, we saw that in midweek, but today we didn’t have that.”

The most disappointing thing for Lampard will be the way Leicester grabbed hold of the game in the second half.

Brendan Rodgers‘ side launched counter after counter as Jorginho and N’Golo Kante were overrun in midfield by James Maddison and Youri Tielemans, and both Maddison and Jamie Vardy should have won the games for the Foxes.

“You can attack, but still be in positions to not allow the counter-attack,” Lampard added. “I’m not here to play great attacking football and then concede counter-attack goals. We need to show more than we did. I was under no illusions that there would be moments like this. We have to work on the pitch on the things we can improve.”

Lampard is spot on with his assessment, but how does he change things?

The most obvious thing is that he needs his team to be more consistent. They’ve started their last three games fast but failed to make the most of big chances and have been made to pay for that with some sloppy passing in midfield.

It is still early days for Lampard in his first season as a PL boss, while many of his youngsters are also finding their feet in the top-flight. Chelsea’s fans will stay patient but the fact that have yet to grab a win shows there is plenty of work to do but the Blues have shown flashes of brilliance, usually at the start of games.

Having a consistent lineup is one thing, but Lampard now needs his players to be brave, show their personality and stand tall for the cause as he ushers in his new era. Too many of them went missing in the second half against Leicester at Stamford Bridge, which will be more than a little concerning for the Chelsea legend.

Pulisic watch: How did USMNT star perform on home debut?

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Christian Pulisic made his home debut for Chelsea on Sunday, as the USMNT star started for the Blues against Leicester City at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: What did we learn? ]

How did the 20-year-old from Hershey, Pennsylvania get on during his first start in the Premier League?

The American playmaker played 70 minutes and although he, like Chelsea, started well, it’s safe to say he faded in the second half as the west London club gave up their lead and drew 1-1 against the Foxes.

2nd minute: Pulisic follows up after Schmeichel saved Mount’s effort but the Leicester goalkeper bundles the ball wide.

3rd minute: Gets free at the near post from the resulting corner but can’t flick the ball goalwards.

15th minute: Gives away a free kick for a foul on Ricardo Pereira.

19th minute: Cuts in from the left and plays a nice pass across the pitch to start an attack.

20th minute: Works back well defensively to put Pereira off his cross.

26th minute: Starts a great move which almost sees Kante score. Flicks it out to Emerson who finds Giroud to play in Kante.

27th minute: Pulisic pops up on the right flank and tries to cross into the box but his cross is blocked and goes out for a goal kick.

29th minute: The American switches flanks with Pedro and is now on the right wing.

30th minute: Pulisic races onto a loose ball but Schmeichel slides out and gets there just before him.

34th minute: Back on the left, taken down by Ayoze Perez as he runs towards the halfway line and looks to pass. Wins a free kick.

39th minute: A few nice touches on the ball but then loses the ball on the halfway line.

41st minute: Plays a bit of a strange back pass to Kepa which puts Chelsea under pressure.

45th minute: Pulisic blocks a cross as the ball smashes him in the ankle and he goes down injured.

46th minute: He is back on his feet and sends in a cross which is deflected out for a corner.

53rd minute: Drifts in from the left and plays a nice ball inside, moment laters plays it to Pedro who loses the ball.

63rd minute: Chases down a lost cause but Caglar Soyuncu calmly flicks the ball over his head.

66th minute: Cross comes in and looks like he is winding up for a bicycle kick but is bundled to the floor. No penalty kick.

70th minute: Shortly after Leicester equalize, Pulisic subbed off and replaced by Willian. A ripple of applause from the home fans.

Chelsea, Leicester put on a show in draw

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An amazing encounter saw Chelsea draw 1-1 with Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as Frank Lampard‘s tough start to life in charge of the Blues continued.

Academy graduate Mason Mount, his first for the club, put Chelsea ahead early on but Leicester rallied valiantly in the second half as Wilfried Ndidi headed home the equalizer.

The game then turned into a wild end-to-end clash as the Foxes impressed mightily.

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Chelsea have now failed to win any of their opening three games of the season, with a defeat at Man United, a penalty shootout defeat against Liverpool in the Super Cup and now a draw at home against Leicester.

The Foxes have now drawn both of their opening games, against Wolves and Chelsea, in a solid start to the season for Brendan Rodgers, who will be a little upset they didn’t make the most of their second half chances.

3 things we learned

1. Fast start evaporates once again: This is now becoming a slightly worrying theme for Lampard. Just like they did against United and Liverpool, Chelsea dominated the early proceedings but failed to make the most of it and Mount’s goal was as good as it got. The high-press was relentless in the first 20 minutes but Chelsea don’t seem to have the fitness levels to regain that momentum, and the way they needlessly gave the ball away in the second half was worrying. Lampard’s midfielders, Jorginho and Kante, failed to provide a shield and this young Chelsea side were a little too naive. Plenty of work today for the Blues.

2. Classy Leicester shine: It took them about 25 minutes to get going, but once they did Rodgers’ side showed their class. Tielemans and Ndidi dominated midfield and Maddison and Vary were so dangerous in attack. This Leicester side has dealt well with the departure of Harry Maguire as Caglar Soyuncu looked composed in central defense. A very promising display from a team who will push for a top six finish.

3. Pulisic struggles to make impact: It was a rough first start in the PL for the USMNT star, who had a few nice touches early but just couldn’t get into the game after Leicester improved dramatically. He played well in Istanbul on Wednesday and maybe he was a little tired after a big few weeks. Not his best display as he failed to get in dangerous positions and was subbed out in the 70th minute.

Man of the Match: James Maddison – Ripped Chelsea apart in the second half and grabbed an assist, plus should have scored the winner but fired over. Incredible quality as he ran at Chelsea’s ragged defense time and time again.

Chelsea almost got off to a perfect start as Olivier Giroud teed up Pedro but the Spaniard sent his volley into the side-netting. Moments later Mount and Christian Pulisic almost scored but Kasper Schmeichel denied both players after a lovely forward pass from Jorginho.

And Chelsea’s rapid start grabbed them a deserved opener as Mount robbed Wilfried Ndidi of the ball and slotted home past Schmeichel as Lampard had his first PL goal as Chelsea boss.

Leicester eventually settled down as Ricardo Pereira broke free but couldn’t find Jamie Vardy, while Mount headed at goal after a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta. James Maddison’s free kick almost found Ndidi at the back post but he couldn’t get on the end of it as Leicester improved as the game wore on.

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The Foxes started the second half well and Maddison rounded Kepa but Chelsea cleared after he played the ball back. Hamza Choudury whipped in a dangerous cross which Kepa held on to as Leicester continued to pour forward in the second half.

Leicester’s equalizer arrived from a corner kick as Ndidi atoned for his error which led to Chelsea’s goal with the Nigerian rising above Cesar Azpilicueta to make it 1-1.

Maddison should have put Leicester 2-1 up moments later as Fuchs found him in the box and he bundled towards goal before somehow firing over from eight yards out. Jamie Vardy then drilled just wide after good work from Maddison as the Foxes continued to flood forward.

Youri Tielemans smashed a shot on goal which was pushed away, then Vardy couldn’t get his feet right in the box as Leicester had the final big chance of the game and were left feeling a little underwhelmed with their point gained at Chelsea. That says it all.

Legendary left back Ashley Cole retires

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Ashley Cole has called time on his 20-year playing career.

The former Arsenal, Chelsea, Roma, LA Galaxy and Derby County left back will go down as one of the best full backs in the game, with the England international winning three Premier League titles, a UEFA Champions League, Europa League, League Cup and seven FA Cups during his glittering career.

Cole, 38, most recently joined Derby on a short-term contract last season after spending three seasons playing for the Galaxy in Major League Soccer, and revealed he is now looking forward to move into coaching.

“After hard consideration, it’s time to hang my boots up and look towards my next chapter, which will hopefully be coaching,” Cole said. “As a young kid, I never expected to play one game or be a professional. Looking back, to be able to say I played in World Cups, Champions League finals, being lucky enough to lift Premier League titles – it’s a young kid’s dream. I fulfilled my dream and now I look to the future, hopefully as a great coach.”

Cole’s decision to leave Arsenal for Chelsea in 2006 was a huge talking point for many years, as the Arsenal academy product upset the majority of their fanbase as he joined the Roman Abramovich-led revolution across London.

He made 107 appearances for England and is considered the Three Lions’ best-ever left back, as he played at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups as well as EURO 2004 and 2012.