Hot List: Johnson continues stellar play 

December, 9, 2011

In our latest attempt to go beyond the ubiquitous weekly roundups of American soccer players abroad, we once again take a look at national team-eligible players who are trending up (or down) with their foreign teams. What's notable this time around? For starters, only one player (Fabian Johnson) who appeared on our first list in October is back. Could we soon see him in a new position for the Yanks?

And if there was ever any doubt about how quickly a player's fortunes can change in the cutthroat world of top-level club soccer, consider Brad Guzan, who'd been dropped rather unceremoniously by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Now, in the blink of an eye, Guzan appears to have returned to the mix. Here's a look at a few U.S. players whose evolving job situations overseas could affect their national team futures, both positively and negatively, and how. Plus, an U-23 update from projected backline starter Zarek Valentin.

Warming up

Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa (England)
Why he's here: After three-plus years in England, the 27-year-old Guzan is about to get his first shot at sustained Premier League action after Villa starter Shay Given suffered a torn hamstring against Manchester United last week.

What this means: The Illinois native was lauded by manager Alex McLeish for his relief work against the Red Devils, but the real test will come over the next month against the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. Unless he's terrible, though, Guzan -- who, you surely remember, has been in goal for big Yanks matches, including the 2009 Confed Cup shutout of Egypt -- should absolutely move back ahead of recent national team backup Bill Hamid, 21, who has a bright future but isn't yet ready to step onto the international stage should undisputed starter Tim Howard go down with injury.

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.