A 19-year-old FC Dallas sensation is poised to make a switch to one of Europe’s major clubs in further validation of MLS’s development as a strong soccer league.
For years, American soccer was viewed as a place for big players to accept a final big payday, from Pele in the late seventies, through to David Beckham in more recent times. That notion is shifting in a major way, with young players from the US now making serious waves across the Atlantic in Europe’s biggest leagues.
Bryan Reynolds is the FC Dallas player currently the subject of intense speculation. Links with Turin giants Juventus have been around for a few weeks now, whilst Roma are also credited with interest, desperate to take the Fort Worth-born defender over to Italy.
It is believed that Juventus, who have lifted their domestic title for nine successive years, were hoping to loan Reynolds out upon completing a deal, with Benevento the likely destination. Juventus are one of the strongest teams in Europe and Bwin currently has them ranked as fourth favorites in this season’s prestigious Champions League competition, which means it could be a dream move for Reynolds and offer him the chance to follow in the footsteps of another young US star.
If and when Reynolds does make the move, be it to Juventus, Roma or another suitor, he will be joining an illustrious list of US players moving abroad and hopefully impacting major competition. Last season, Tyler Adams bagged a goal in the Champions League quarter-final for RB Leipzig, making him the first US-born player to net a goal in the final stages of the competition. That was described by popular media as a landmark moment for US soccer players abroad, as it underlined their potential at the very pinnacle of European club football.
Of course, plenty of US players have tried their luck abroad, with England a particularly good hunting ground for them. John Harkes made history by being the first American to play in a professional cup final at Wembley Stadium, as well as the first American to score in a cup final there the following year. Clint Dempsey also enjoyed success with Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, but neither won a major European competition, although Dempsey did appear in the 2010 Europa League final, which Fulham lost.
Reynolds will certainly hope to eclipse that success when he does move abroad, despite not yet having appeared for the US Men’s National Team. He has represented his country up to Under 18 level, but still only has a handful of appearances for FC Dallas, as well as getting senior experience during a 2019 loan spell with USL League One side North Texas FC.
It is believed that any potential suitor will be paying around €8m ($9.7m), with Roma reportedly offering a four-and-a-half-year deal worth €800,000 ($972,000) per season. It is a huge statement of trust in the young defender, but as part of a wider picture, it is great for MLS clubs. It finally signals a change of status in the eyes of the world, from a novelty league for retiring stars to a genuine producer of world-class talents. In the context of US football, it also signals a bright and hopeful future for the USMNT, who will be aiming to qualify, and impress, at the World Cup in Qatar.