Miguel Almiron - Newcastle United - vs Arsenal
Scott Heppell-Reuters

MLS Exports: New season, new hopes and challenges across England, Germany

The major European leagues are all at or near their starting positions, meaning it's time for a fresh outlook on all the Major League Soccer alumni playing their soccer in the Old World spotlight.

The English Premier League kicked off its new slate this past weekend and the second-flight Championship is already two rounds in, while Germany's Bundesliga is set to for first kicks this coming weekend. Those three divisions boast a total of 11 former MLS aces to keep track of over the next nine months, and we're here to set the initial scene with an outlook for those players and their respective clubs.

We're going to tackle everything in alphabetical order, which means we start in the England's top flight with Major League Soccer's record outgoing transfer item.

England

Miguel Almiron
ATL: 2017-18

We start our look at the MLS alums in the Premier League with Almiron, who enters his second Newcastle campaign carrying heavy expectations. As he had done in Atlanta, the Paraguay motor greatly impressed Magpies supporters with his work rate and ability to drive play during an abbreviated stint following his arrival last winter.

However, that notoriously demanding fan base is now also insisting he start to provide enough goals and assists to be one of the club's top offensive weapons. If Almiron can form a productive partnership with new record signing Joelinton, the Toon Army should be free of any relegation worries for another year.

Geoff Cameron
HOU: 2008-12

The veteran has put last season's injury woes in the past and is off to a flying start with Queens Park Rangers. Now firmly entrenched in defensive midfield, Cameron has been a standout in each of the Hoops' first two league matches. After making a manager switch late last season, it's been a summer of turnover for the Loftus Road side. The squad is now loaded with youth, putting Cameron in a leadership role on a team aiming for mid-table or better.

Jack Harrison with Leeds United | Reuters

Jack Harrison
NYC: 2016-17

More will be expected of the young winger as he embarks on the second year of his Leeds United loan. After notching four goals and as many assists in his first full Championship campaign, both management and the local faithful will want to see those totals in or near double figures this term.

With Marcelo Biesla leading a talented squad, the Whites are considered co-favorites for the two automatic elevator rides to the EPL along with Fulham. They'll need to be more consistent in attack to close the deal and if Harrison (who tallied in their season-opening win) can build off his fine start to the season, it will go a long way toward their promotion goal.

Matt Miazga
RBNY: 2013-15

The Chelsea defender is back for his second loan go-around with Reading, and has picked up where he left off in the spring by retaining his lineup spot. Miazga became a fast fan favorite with mostly strong performances at the back last season, but the Royals will need him to raise his game another level to avoid another relegation scrape.

The US international, partner Liam Moore and active, athletic defensive midfielder Andy Rinomhota likely form the key triangle for the often goal-shy Royals. They are relying on a group of veteran loan returnees, summer buys and academy grads to lift an offense that barely scored over once per game last season. 

Tim Ream
RBNY: 2010-11

Now in the final year of his Fulham deal, Ream will try to help the west Londoners bounce straight back into the Premier League. The Cottagers were widely viewed as the Championship title favorite in preseason prediction articles, but those hopes probably took a fair hit when teen flank ace Ryan Sessegnon departed for Tottenham on transfer deadline day. Ream should be a key figure in Fulham's promotion drive as manager Scott Parker now has the team playing out of the back, a scheme that should shine a light on Ream's passing game.

DeAndre Yedlin
SEA: 2013-14

Almiron's Newcastle teammate was not in their opening-day selection, as the comeback from his spring groin operation has hit a late snag. Following a fresh scan, Yedlin has been ruled out for another 3-4 weeks. When Yedlin does return, he faces a new fight for a starting role. His place in the lineup became more complicated when the Magpies snapped up Sweden right back Emil Krafth last week.

Germany

Tyler Adams with RB Leipzig | Reuters

Tyler Adams
RBNY: 2016-18

The RB Leipzig midfield ace is still striving to reach the finish line of a recovery road from the groin issue that kept him out of the Gold Cup. Adams missed the club's weekend DfB-Pokal win this weekend and remains in heavy doubt for their league opener. When back to full fitness, there will be no debate about where the youngster should be stationed. He'll be the starting mobile destroyer for a side that will be expected to post another top-four finish while also holding hopes of attaining passage through the Champions League group phase for the first time.

Alphonso Davies
VAN: 2016-18

As Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben have both moved on, it was thought that we'd see a lot more of Davies in Bayern Munich action during the 2019-20 campaign. Sure, he still had Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry in front of him, but the Canada winger looked a great bet to quickly surpass the 74 minutes in six sub outings he got last season. Tuesday's loan arrival of Ivan Perisic may have poured a bit of cold water on those hopes, but the Croatia star could also eat up minutes being used centrally.

Davies could also see some backup minutes at left back, a spot he knows from international duty and one where Bayern boss Niko Kovac gave him preseason training reps. As for the Bavarians, they will once again be title favorites and Champions League entrants with a Pot 1 seed for the group-stage draw.

Carlos Gruezo
DAL 2016-19

The road will be significantly harder for hoe for the Ecuador defensive midfielder, who returns to the Bundesliga after three fairly successful years with FC Dallas. New employers Augsburg are among the teams on the unofficial drop watch after narrowly avoiding the relegation mire last season. The roster has undergone a major renovation, and Gruezo is slated to be an ink starter charged with protecting one of the leakiest defenses in the league last season. The attack has also seen some smart additions, so the guys at the back may be able to work from friendlier game states this time around.

Khiry Shelton
NYC: 2015-17
SKC: 2018

There probably aren't many folks out there who imagined that the forward would end up a key depth cog in the Bundesliga when he left MLS, but here we are. Shelton appears to have won the role of fast, physical striker off the bench for promoted Paderborn. Now that he's past the injuries of last season, management are hoping he can beat up on tiring defenders this term. How much late game road-plowing the 26-year-old can accomplish will go a fair way toward determining if the Blau und Schwarz can beat their current rap of being relegation fodder.

Zack Steffen | USA Today Sports Images

Zack Steffen
CLB: 2016-19

The US netminder (who, like Harrison, is out on loan from Manchester City) has stepped straight into the No. 1 job with temporary employers Fortuna Dusseldorf. The locals are confident in hoping he's the man that can help the team dramatically cut their goals-against total. Only one surviving club conceded more Bundesliga goals last season, and pressure on Steffen to star will be high as the Merkur Spiel-Arena crew look rather weak in attack. They somehow managed to finish 10th last season, and matching or bettering that will be a tall task even if their new goalkeeper shines as expected.


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