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Soccer Transfer Window Brings Big Moves For WNT Stars, MNT Rising Stars

By Chrös McDougall | Oct. 06, 2020, 12:46 p.m. (ET)

 Tobin Heath controls the ball during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup on July 7, 2019 in Lyon, France.


International soccer’s transfer window closed on Monday, and oh what a 10 weeks it was for U.S. players.

In what might have been the most significant transfer window in U.S. soccer history, six veteran stars from the USWNT crossed the Atlantic, with five of them ending up in the burgeoning English Women’s Super League. Although most are expected to come back to the NWSL if next season goes off as planned, their transfers represent a new level of European investment in the women’s game, as well as an opportunity to see U.S. stars wearing some of the most famous uniforms in the world.

Meanwhile, on the men’s side, an unprecedented group of talented young players continued moving around as they position themselves for big steps ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying period. Among the blockbuster moves were the first Americans signing with the senior teams at Barcelona and Juventus, two of the sport’s biggest clubs of all time.

Here’s a look at 11 key moves from U.S. players this summer.

Reggie Cannon - Boavista

One of the MLS’ most promising young American players, Cannon made his long anticipated move to Europe when he joined Portuguese first-division club Boavista in September. The 22-year-old right back had been a starter for Dallas since 2018, and he’s played every minute of Boavista’s first three games this season.

Sergiño Dest - Barcelona
Going from one iconic club to another, Dest, a 19-year-old defender, completed a move to Barcelona on Oct. 1, and three days later made his Camp Nou debut as a 75th minute substitute in a 1-1 draw with Sevilla. Dest, who reportedly was also being pursued by European champions Bayern Munich, is expected to play a key role as a right wingback feeding crosses in to six-time world player of the year Lionel Messi.

Tobin Heath - Manchester United
One of the most creative offensive players in recent USWNT history, Heath ended a seven-year run with the Portland Thorns to join Manchester United on Sept. 9. The star winger, 29, has scored 33 goals and record 40 assists with the national team, while winning two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals. Now United fans are hoping those skills translate to the Women’s

Super League. Heath made her debut as a 70th-minute substitute on Sunday, then assisted on the final goal as the Red Devils beat Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0.

Rose Lavelle - Manchester City
The bronze ball winner at the 2019 World Cup, Lavelle is seen as the next big superstar for the USWNT, and in August she announced she’s joining one of the world’s most ambitious clubs. It was clear something was up when the midfielder, 25, was traded from the Washington Spirit to OL Reign on Aug. 16. Just two days later she inked a deal with Man City in the Women’s Super League. OL Reign will retain Lavelle’s NWSL rights, but in the meantime she’s settling in with the Citizens, having made her debut in last week’s FA Cup semifinal win over Arsenal and then her WSL debut as a substitute on Sunday as the Blues beat Tottenham 4-1.
Weston McKennie - Juventus
Dest wasn’t the first U.S. player to join an iconic club with a multi-time world player of the year. McKennie, a 22-year-old central midfielder, joined up with nine-time defending Serie A champion Juventus in September, where he’s quickly fit in alongside five-time world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo. McKennie, who had been playing with Schalke 04 in Germany, joined the Turin club on a one-year loan with an option to make it permanent.

Sam Mewis - Manchester City
Among the USWNT stars who moved to England this year, midfielder Mewis has been the most impactful thus far. The 27-year-old signed with Man City on a permanent deal on Aug. 10, and on Sunday she scored her second goal in as many games. The first, last Thursday, sent City to the FA Cup final, where theyll face Everton on Nov. 1. The second helped the Citizens beat Tottenham 4-1. A key member of the 2019 World Cup champs, Mewis helped the North Carolina Courage win the 2018 and ‘19 NWSL titles.

Alex Morgan - Tottenham Hotspur
Following the birth of daughter Charlie in May, Morgan is aiming to play her first game of 2020 in the coming days for Tottenham Hotspur in the Women’s Super League. Of all the big-name moves to the WSL, Morgan’s might have been the biggest, both because of her status as an Olympic gold medalist, two-time World Cup champ and one of the most potent scorers in the world, but also because she joined Tottenham, a team with a more modest stature in the WSL. Morgan, 31, will aim to make a big impact with the north London team before likely heading back to the NWSL’s Orlando Pride next season.

Matt Miazga - Anderlecht
Perhaps Chelsea in name only, the 25-year-old center back remains a member of the west London club but for the fifth season in a row will be playing somewhere else. This time the Blues are sending Miazga to Anderlecht in Belgium on a one-year loan, where he’ll play under former Belgium star Vincent Kompany.
Christen Press - Manchester United
Not long after Manchester United announced Heath’s signing, it revealed USWNT strike partner Press would be joining her. A two-time World Cup champ, Press, 31, made her WSL debut as a 77th-minute sub on Sunday, but United clearly has bigger plans for her as the season progresses.

Fans have high expectations, too. In the three days after the American duo signed with the team, their jerseys outsold those of any player on the iconic club — man or woman — according to the Daily Mail.

Antonee Robinson - Fulham
Robinson appeared to be on the move in January, and it was a big one. However, his transfer from Wigan Athletic in England’s second division to Italian blue bloods AC Milan was scuttled when he failed a physical due to an irregular heart rhythm, reportedly related to caffeine consumption. Instead Robinson returned to northwest England for a tumultuous conclusion to the season before securing an August move to newly promoted Fulham in the Premier League. Robinson, a 23-year-old left back, made his Premier League debut over the weekend in a loss to Wolverhampton.

Emily Sonnett - Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC
Sonnett, a defender who played on the winning 2019 World Cup team, joined Sweden’s Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC in August, where she’ll stay until November. The first overall pick in the 2016 NWSL draft, Sonnett, 26, was a mainstay for the Portland Thorns until 2020, when she joined the Orlando Pride, though she had yet to play a game for the Pride. Her Swedish team currently sits atop the league standings.

Chrös McDougall

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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