cover photo from tottenhamhotspur.com
All around the world there are goalkeepers with American ties playing in professional leagues. Some of them are at the end of their careers while others are passing on the college route to sign with a team. It's easy to have higher expectations for players who are getting an early start on their professional career but realistically a large majority of them aren't going to make it. In any case, the allure of being in a great environment - whether it's receiving USYNT call ups, playing for well known clubs, or simply signing professionally before their peers do - raises a lot of questions about a player.
There are three reasons why we may have question marks for a goalkeeper: we might not know how good they are currently due to low exposure, we might not know how they'll develop, or another country might be vying for a dual-citizen as well. There are no expectations on these goalkeepers, seeing as there's no guarantee from playing in any environment, but we are very interested in their future. Here are fifteen goalkeepers we don't know enough about yet.
1. Kaeli Anne Schmidt, 21 - Barcelona
It's not often you see a goalkeeper playing abroad at such a early age on the women's side. Schmidt has not only left St. Mary's to do so, but she went to Barcelona of all places. She signed an amateur contract for last year and was listed on Barcelona's UEFA Champions League roster. It's not clear if Schmidt is still at Barcelona this season or if she's moved on elsewhere.
Since she was on an amateur contract, Barcelona wouldn't permit an interview but Kai Edwards, who coached her at St. Mary's, commended Schmidt's style. "Kaeli has incredible feet. Not just for a goal keeper but for a field player. Kaeli allows a team to play from the back with skill and advance tactics. She is an imposing goalkeeper at about 6'0 and she understands the game well."
2. Brandon Austin, 17 - Tottenham
With his father being born in the US Virgin Islands, there are two main questions for Austin at the moment. First, how soon is he exactly to represent the US? It could take time for him to be eligible or it might be right away. Second, and perhaps more importantly, is he more interest in playing for England instead?
3. Alejandro Iturbe Encabo, 13 - Atletico Madrid
He's thirteen and is rumored to have ties to the midwest. Possibly the loosest claim to American citizenship but it's Atletico Madrid so needless to say he's worth the early interest if the rumors are true, although we have many years to wait to see anything from him.
4. Will Pulisic, 18 - Dortmund
Sure, sure we all know Pulisic is currently at Dortmund but it's not common practice for the Bundesliga to snipe incoming Duke freshmen. Pulisic did well with the U17s but that also doesn't warrant direction placement into Dortmund. There's no doubt he's getting topnotch training so the finished stage of Pulisic will be very interesting.
5. Carlos dos Santos, 16 - Benfica
Thankfully dos Santos has already shown interest in the US by playing for the U17s. However Dos Santos is in the same boat as Pulisic: we know he's good but there's a lot of developing that goes on from 16-20. Benfica hasn't been a magic pill for USYNT players in the past and now we're waiting to see if Benfica is a good fit for Carlos.
6. Benjamin Machini, 20 - Barakaldo CF (Spain)
Machini helped RCD Mallorca earn promotion last year and now he is on loan with Barakaldo (third division Spain). The Swedish-American goalkeeper is a typical product of a Spanish club: great with his distribution and light on his feet. Machini is a little undersized but looking at Rimando's career, it may suit the US very well. (I spoke to Machini earlier this year in a brief interview.)
7. Nicolas Defreitas-Hansen, 15 - Weston FC (Florida)
It's not often a fifteen year old is called into a U17 camp. The worry here is that if a player is playing up a year or two, especially at goalkeeper, it's because of his physical ability and not because of his his technique. Hopefully he is getting the correct training appropriate to him and not just reps on making him a better athlete.
8. Benny Diaz, 17 - Queretaro
The U19s have done a wonderful job of bringing in a variety of players and not just the same names over and over. Diaz went to Queretaro in 2015 and was then called up for the Slovakia Cup with the U19s in April of this year. The US hasn't had great success with Mexican-American goalkeepers siding with the US in the past so this is definitely a rare pick up.
9. Christian Hererra, 19 - Pachuca
The 6'7" goalkeeper was loaned to Pachuca from Real Salt Lake in February earlier this year and... that's about it. Similar to Defreitas-Hansen, Hererra is in need of very specific training. You cannot train a 6'7" goalkeeper the same as a 5'10" or even a 6'3" goalkeeper. The Mexican-American hasn't made much of a peep on loan, which could be really good or an unpleasant surprise for RSL when he returns from loan. Hererra has also been involved with Mexico's YNT program as well, which could be cause for concern.
10. Matias Reynares, 17 - Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Reynares joined Fort Lauderdale before the start of this season and was then brought into a U19 camp in September. It's an odd progression for the youngster but coming from a premier Uruguayan club, clubs are going to take the gamble on the goalkeeper. Reynares turns eighteen later this month and if you're interested in watching him as a 14 year old goalkeeper, you're in luck. Otherwise, we don't really know how he plays.
11. Carlos Avilez, 17 - FC Dallas
Avilez was called into USYNT camps fairly regularly up until early 2015 and hasn't been involved since. The 2017 graduate hasn't signed to a college yet, implying that he's looking to skip the collegiate game completely. If FC Dallas gets a USL side going for 2017, we could very well see Avilez on the field.
12. Bakary Sanyang, 22 - Pfeddersheim (Germany)
It's in a pretty low tier in Germany but Sanyang, who was born in New York, has been sent on loan to earn some time on the field. He's a little bit older than the rest of the goalkeepers on this list but he's still the age of a college senior playing professionally in Germany.
13. Nicholas Ammeter, 17 - FC Aarau (Switzerland)
Ammeter was with Switzerland's U16s last fall but he hasn't made too much noise with the first team. He's still young and we don't have clue on his development but he was born in New York so he may be worth keeping an eye on down the line.
14. Luis Zamudio, 18 - Club America
Zamudio is a Sueño MLS product and apparently stood out so well that Club America has kept him on for a second year. It doesn't look like he's first in the depth chart but if America is looking to keep him around, it's at least a little promising.
15. Alex Stimac, 20 - Pro Patria (Italy)
The USMNT hasn't had much success with Sammarinese goalkeepers in the past but Stimac could potentially change that. He's playing in the fourth tier in Italy although no starts to his name yet.