(Monday, May 26, 2008) -- With the European ended, attention will now turn to player movement with the summer transfer window opening. Several Americans could be changing addresses.
One of the American standouts in Europe was defender Oguchi Onyewu, who was not happy he had to return to Standard de Liège in Belgium's Jupiler League after his loan deal to Newcastle United of the English Premier League did not end up with his getting a long-term contract.
Onyewu helped lead Standard to its best season ever and its first championship in 25 years. The team lost only once in a 22-1-11 campaign and came within a penalty kick of becoming the the first team to go undefeated in the league in 49 years.
It is quite likely Standard will sell Onyewu once the transfer window opens, seeking a reported $4-million fee, so Onyewu will probably have to wait to see who might ne interested.
U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley also is expected to be on the move after helping lead Heerenveen to fifth place in the Dutch Eredivisie and a berth in Europe's second-tier UEFA Cup. Bradley led his club with 17 goals, his 16 in league play tying him for sixth in the Eredivisie behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's 34.
Bradley is the 20-year-old son of the United States men's coach Bob Bradley.
Despite late-season struggles, Heerenveen tied for fifth with Feyenoord Rotterdam, both 18-10-6 with 60 points, but Heerenveen took the last berth in the Champions League playoff because its goal differential of plus-40 was 17 better than Feyenoord.
Second-place Ajax eliminated Heerenveen from Champions League consideration with a 5-2 triumph in a two-match playoff semifinal. After losing 2-1 at home, Heerenveen traveled to ArenA in Amsterdam, where Bradley was sent off with his second yellow card in the 39th minute and his shorthanded club was thumped 3-1.
Heerenveen then moved into a two-leg playoff with NAC Breda of the Eredivisie and prevailed 4-2 for its spot in the next UEFA Cup. Suspended for his expulsion, Bradley missed the opening 2-0 decision over Breda at home, then came back to play in the a 2-2 draw at Breda.
Bradley did not score in his three playoff outings, but there is considerable interest in him around Europe.
U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley ended his injury-plagued season with Glasgow Rangers on a high note, figuring in all three goals in Rangers' 3-2 victory over lowly Queen of the South in the Scoittish Cup final.
After missing six months of the season following knee surgery, Beasley finally returned for the final and he was fouled to set up Rangers' first goal. He scored the second and then assisted on the third in his 76 minutes before being replaced by Steven Davis.
Kris Boyd scored on a free kick in the 33rd minute after Beasley was fouled just outside the penalty area. Seven minutes later, Beasley side-footed home a shot from 12 yards out on a pass from Carlos Cuellar. In the 72nd minute, he sent a perfect cross to Boyd for a game-winning header.
That ended Rangers' marathon 68-game season and made it clear they had missed Beasley although the club also won the League Cup, though finishing second in the Premier League behind hated rival Glasgow Celtic).
Rangers also advanced to the UEFA CUP final before falling 2-0 to Russia's Zenit St. Petersburg.
Carlos Bocanegra is out at Fulham of the English Premier League, where the club let him go after his contract expired. He was a starter at Craven Cottage under managers Chris Coleman and Lawrie Sanchez, but when current manager Roy Hodgson arrived in December, he decided that the 29-year-old American defender was simply not tall enough to play in the center of defense. So Hodgson acquired 6-foot-5 Norwegian international Brede Hangeland, who interestingly was born in Houston.
Bocanegra, who is training with the U.S. men ahead of their match Wednesday against England, told reporters "I got a call about the release earlier today, but we had both known it had been coming for a while. I love England and had great four-and-a-half years at Fulham. I would like to stay in the Premier League, but I'm focused on the U.S. team right now, so I will let my agent handle all that. We have some big games coming up and then we have World Cup qualifiers."
In the media, Bocanegra has also been linked with a move to PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands or Spanish outfit Osasuna. But his former manager Coleman is now at Coventry City and said he would like to sign Bocanegra to play in the second-division English League Championship.
U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller's future at Fulham is less clear. If he stays, it will probably have to be as a backup. Fulham acquired Australian international keeper Mark Schwarzer from Middlesbrough of the Premier League and he is expected to be the starter next season.
Keller's contract has expired, so he is a free agent. This season, he had been signed as a backup for Finnish international Annti Niemi, but Keller became the starter when Niemi was injured and never relinquished the job.
Whether Keller stays may depend on whether Niemi is willing to be a backup after expressing dissatisfaction last month to be playing behind Keller. Age is a factor. Keller turns 39 this year, while Schwarzer, an 11-year Premiership veteran, is 35. Niemi is 36.
The new Major League Soccer franchise in Seattle will start play next year and has said it would love to have Washington native Keller in goal. But it remains to be seen if they can afford Keller should me get another offer in Europe.
Three other Americans remain under contract to Fulham. Striker Brian McBride and midfielder Clint Dempsey are key members of the club, while forward Eddie Johnson, a mid-season acquisition, saw little action. Little has been said about Johnson's future with the Cottagers, who didn't escape relegation until the last day of the 2007-08 season.
U.S. keeper Brad Friedel had a another strong season in the Backburn Rovers' net and signed a contract extension during the season. American defender Jonathan Spector also had a solid campaign with West Ham United.
With Reading relegated to the League Championship, U.S. keeper Marcus Hahnemann intends to remain with the Royals. Oft-injured American midfielder Bobby Convey remains under contract. Though little has been said about his future, Convey was not among eight players who were cut after the season.
American striker Nate Jaqua finished off a five-month stay with SCR Altach in the Austrian Bundesliga with his fifth goal of the season in the final match of the season, a surprise win over second-place Salzburg. The team finished its second-ever season in the top division in eighth place with a 8-12-16 record with 40 points and was 3-4-6 since Jaqua's arrival in January.
The team is quite happy with Jaqua as the starter, but he says he is weighing options to perhaps move up in Europe before re-signing for next season.
U.S. forward Josh Wolff's, contract has expired at 1860 Munich of the 2.Bundesliga and he was told he will not be asked back. After talks with MLS did not prove fruitful -- money apparently being the problem -- Wolff is looking for a new club in Europe.
U.S. men's and under-23 men's midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who plays for Derby County, which was relegated to the English League Championship, tore the meniscus in his right knee while playing for the under-23s against Turkey in the 2008 Toulon International Tournament. He will have orthroscopic surgery by doctor Bert Mandelbaum in Los Angeles and is expected to miss at least 4-6 weeks.
U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis' status with Derby is not clear.
American defender Danny Califf, whose contract extends at least one more year, captained Aalborg to its third-ever Norwegian Superligaen title and the club’s first since 1999. The team tore through the league, collecting the fourth-most points in history while setting club records for points, goals and road victories.