USMNT forward Gyasi Zardes is saying all the right things. Give him credit for that. The LA Galaxy star and one of the most promising younger players for the USMNT said recently he never considered moving to Europe during the summer transfer window despite the rumors and remains committed to the LA Galaxy.
As for his future though the California born forward isn’t ruling anything out.
“There are so many rumors out there. There are so many people out there saying, ‘hey this team is interested in you’ and I’m like that’s not my focus. I’m an LA Galaxy player and this is my primary focus and this is my job.” Zardes told reporters.
“Anything can happen once I walk out those doors [of the Stubhub Center] but this right now matters.”
“I still have two more years on my contract.” Zardes said, “but I’m just going to take it day to day and work extremely hard because I don’t know what tomorrow holds.”
Too often too many people take what is said to the media at face value. In this case it’s refreshing to see a player like Zardes admit that when he shows up to work he is fully committed to his team, but he’s not naive and is willing to listen to offers of a move elsewhere.
Zardes broke through with the U.S. National Team during the January camp and has since emerged as one of the U.S.’s brightest new players. Since emerging from the January camp, Zardes has made 17 appearances for the U.S., featuring in nearly every match.
Zardes is now 24 and has emerged as a star for the Galaxy and one of the best names in the U.S. talent pool. Unfortunately for him, as amazing as living in Los Angeles all year is, the best thing he could do for his development, and that of the USMNT, is to move to Europe now.
Though the teams rumored in him may not be the biggest clubs you’ve ever heard of — English Championship side Reading, and Belgian side K.R.C. Genk are amongst those coveting Zardes — the time is now for him to make the move. While we may look at 24 as still being young, for a developing soccer player he’s starting to get old and if he waits any longer, the opportunity to move to Europe may not be there.
What is certain is that at 24 Zardes has already conquered the MLS, he’ll only develop so much and get so much better playing there. While the hardcore MLS fan may argue whether or not the English Championship or the Belgian Premier League is actually a step up over MLS, that doesn’t mean a move wouldn’t benefit him. Even if the Championship was on par with MLS, it would certainly benefit a player to go to another country and play in a league with a different style then that of MLS.
The time for Zardes to move is now. Sure moving to a club in January is difficult and teams often use the first half season to simply let the player get acclimated to the new club, but playing even for four months in Europe could significantly help his development prior to next summer’s Copa America Centenario. A good performance there, against the tough teams from South America, could really cause some European scouts’ heads to turn and could earn him a move to an even bigger club.
The U.S. has struggled to develop game changing younger players in the past few years. Zardes has emerged as one of a very few, and therefore he has become a very important piece in the USMNT puzzle, making his development crucial to the teams long-term success. That makes it imperative for Zardes to get out of MLS and challenge himself over in Europe.