Programming note: This summer in this space, we’ll take a look at a different American player each week instead of doing some sort of update on multiple Yanks abroad. This will be an opportunity to delve into some players we don’t normally feature in this space and evaluate their chances with the USMNT, their future prospects, other important things to note with them, or any combination of the three.
Club: Bournemouth (Premier League)
Emerson Hyndman is a name familiar to some American fans. It’s about to become a whole lot more familiar to a larger audience.
A 20-year-old midfielder from Texas, Hyndman has captained American youth sides extensively over the past few years and has appeared for the senior squad twice. He carries with him a tremendous soccer pedigree and an excellent early-career arc, and now he’s earned something
Long considered one of the top prospects in the American talent pool, Hyndman — the grandson of legendary former college and MLS coach Schellas Hyndman — began his career playing for the Dallas Texans, one of the top youth soccer clubs in the nation and where current USMNT captain Clint Dempsey played before becoming one of the most successful American outfield players of all time. He spent one year in the academy of the FC Dallas side his grandfather managed before jumping over the Atlantic for the opportunity to sign with another of Dempsey’s former clubs, Fulham.
Early in his stay at Craven Cottage, Hyndman emerged as a top prospect for the club. He played with U.S. U-15 and U-17 sides while entrenching himself in the Fulham youth outfits, eventually earning a first professional contract in April 2013 at the age of 17. The following season, he scored three goals in Fulham’s run to the FA Youth Cup Final and four times in the league for the Cottagers’ U-18 side.
The success continued in the 2014-15 season. After Fulham’s relegation from the Premier League, Hyndman was handed a professional debut on the opening day of the Championship campaign, although a highly inexperienced side lost to Ipswich. Still, Hyndman impressed over the first few months of the season with his composure, passing ability, and technical skills, with Fulham’s website calling him a “chief midfield orchestrator.”
He experienced his first professional setback that winter, suffering an injury during the Holiday period that stifled his progress. Nonetheless, Hyndman returned over the summer and captained the U.S. U-20 World Cup team in New Zealand. It seemed he was ready to step into the Fulham first team permanently.
But manager Kit Symons kept Hyndman on the periphery of the squad early in the 2015-16 campaign. It was another frustrating stretch, but it ended when Symons was fired and subsequently replaced by Slavisa Jokanovic with the Cottagers languishing in the bottom half of the Championship table. Including his first start in December, Hyndman played in 14 of Fulham’s final 25 games, making nine total starts and scoring one memorable goal, a 93rd-minute winner against Cardiff on Hyndman’s 20th birthday for his first professional tally.
However, despite becoming an important piece of the squad, Hyndman seemed to be headed for an exit from Craven Cottage. He had yet to extend his contract with the club, and rumors were heating up that some top clubs in England were interested.
For one, Hyndman will work with one of the best young managers in England at Eddie Howe, and he will have a chance to earn his spot in a Premier League side. Bournemouth generally play with two midfielders sitting deep, and Hyndman is talented enough already to rotate into one of those spots on a regular basis. With some seasoning and Premier League experience, Hyndman could become a dominant midfield player at the highest level. That’s essentially what Fulham’s head of recruitment said when the move to Bournemouth had been announced. Read that article for some absolutely glowing quotes about Hyndman’s potential.
From all angles, this move presents a terrific opportunity for another of America’s best soccer exports to test himself against the world’s best. Hyndman won’t walk into Dean Court and immediately be gifted a starting job for the Cherries, but he could well earn one sooner rather than later. When that happens, that name that’s only familiar to smaller segment of the U.S. population will quickly become a household one in the football sphere.