Lichaj to leave Aston Villa this summer

Eric Lichaj Aston Villa 2 (Getty Images)

By IVES GALARCEP

After five years that saw him spend far more time on the bench than on the field, Eric Lichaj is ready to leave Aston Villa for the next destination in his playing career.

The American fullback will be leaving Villa Park after the Villans declined to re-sign the 24-year old. Lichaj is one of several Villa players, including former San Jose Earthquake Simon Dawkins, who the club is letting go.

Lichaj featured in 17 matches for Aston Villa this season, making nine starts and playing mainly as a back-up left back. He saw time at his natural right back position later in the season.

The next step for Lichaj remains unclear but after successful loan spells with Leeds and Leyton Orient in the past, Lichaj is a good bet to be pursued by clubs in the English League Championship.

Lichaj had once figured prominently as a long-term fullback prospect for the U.S. Men’s National Team under former U.S. coach Bob Bradley, starting the final four matches of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup as a 21-year old, but he has yet to be called up by Jurgen Klinsmann.

A quick fullback who can get forward well, while also capable of delivering dangerous long throws, Lichaj struggled at times playing at left back, but looked more comfortable later in the year at his preferred right back position. A regular starter at the tail end of the 2012 season at left back, Lichaj has the sort of Premier League experience that should make him an attractive free agent.

Where would you like to see Lichaj go next? Think he should consider a move to MLS, or do you feel he is good enough to stay in England?

Share your thoughts below.

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66 Responses to Lichaj to leave Aston Villa this summer

  1. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    Why would JK call him up? He’s not German/American. I kid, I kid.

    • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

      I’d like to see him stay in g EPL. I really think he’s good and he can break through with a strong run of games.

      • PD says:

        I’d like to see him get minutes. If that happens in Bundesliga 2 or Belgium or France that’s fine, too…

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Actually he’s the child of Polish parents and plays in England under his Polish passport — though he is American born and raised — which gets him around work permit rules.

      I think both he and Dawkins should sign in MLS. I understand Dawkins wants to play for Jamaica, and Lichaj for the US. Come here, make your case.

      Lichaj already was in a top league for a bad team and wasn’t playing regularly. Why repeat that mistake? If he has short term aspirations he needs to either drop down a tier in terms of league quality (Holland, Scandinavia) or come to MLS or Mexico. I think the MLS makes as much sense as anything because he could not be ignored.

    • David M says:

      You kid? I’m sure there is a lot of truth to that.

  2. Jazzy Altidore says:

    He should be able to secure playing somewhere in a top league. I like his game.

    • Old School says:

      I do as well.

      If not for his injury, Bornstein never would have lost the Gold Cup for us. Lichaj was a beast that match on the left side.

      • Marcelo Balboa's Mustache says:

        Cherundolo’s injury you mean, yes? Lichaj stayed in. I can still see him leaping to barely miss heading out Dos Santos’s lob after Dos Santos taunted Howard out to the 18. I agree though. I thought he looked formidable all though the tournament.

      • GW says:

        In that game Guardado scored the tieing goal directly off of Lichaj’s weak clearance in the box.

        • Old School says:

          I had the injury incorrect but not the guilty party. Lichaj was hardly to blame for the debacle that was Jonathan Bornstein.

          Remove JB and you remove the Gold Cup trophy from the Mexican NT.

          • Ali Dia says:

            Pretty sure that was the last time Bornstein played in a soccer match. I wonder what he does all day down there?

          • GW says:

            I doubt the Mexicans give JB so much credit.

            He did not play well, though he put in a nice cross at the 59th minute that Deuce managed hit the crossbar with.

            Still he came in for Dolo at the 11th minute and then in the 20th minute the US took a 2-0 lead. That put Lichaj at his much favored right back spot so I would have expected better from Lichaj than what the US got out of him. Lichaj played better than JB but not by very much.

            It’s not like JB suddenly destabilized a juggernaut.
            Mexico had been attacking from early on and was hardly on their back foot even though they gave up two goals. Actually, the two goals seemed to galvanize them.

            Where Dolo’s loss hurt was in maintaining the kind of possession you need to maintain to keep some of the edge off a team like Mexico. Neither JB nor Lichaj were a big help there.

            Maybe more important was that Torres Nilo replaced the immobile Salcido in the 28th minute. A minute later Mexico scored their first. Seven minutes later Lichaj gifted them their second goal to tie the game.

            Overall no US players covered themselves with glory in this game.

  3. Beto says:

    Hopefully more pt or whatever it takes to get on jurgen’s good side; we need fullback depth..

  4. Hey now says:

    If he cant play in one of the top five leagues in Europe, which I doubt he will, I hope he comes to MLS. Someone please just pay him what it takes to prevent him from going to Sweden, Denmark, Austria, etc over MLS

    • patrick says:

      you’re crazy if you don’t think Lichaj will remain in a top 5 league. I can almost guarantee you that the newly promoted teams are already taking a look at him.

      • HoboMike says:

        How can you guarantee that? Especially since he barely got a look for the worst defensive team in the Prem.

      • Hey now says:

        I hope you are right. I just dont think he ever managed to make enough of an impact to get a starting role in a top five league, and he is American after all.

      • joe says:

        I would back up your guarantee with some speculation that a few existing Premiership (Norwich City?) teams will be looking at him, as well. I also would imagine that a relegated team (like a Reading) or a team in the Championship that has serious promotion aspirations (like a Bolton) would look long and hard at signing Lichaj on a free transfer.
        For me, I think Lichaj should look at Birmingham City. He could stay in Birmingham and they are a top club in the Championship with recent Premier League history. Their Europa League adventure this season didn’t help their league standing, but I could definitely see them at the top of next season’s Championship table.

        • FulhamDC says:

          I love guarantee’s backed up with speculation! It’s what he internet was born for. Don’t think he’d displace Martin at right back at Norwich, which means he’d have the same issue of playing out of position there. I agree that one of the higher tier Championship clubs like Bolton, Reading and I’d add Forest or Leeds as well, would be good. My biggest wish for him, however, is that he get out of Birmingham, that town is a dump!

        • GW says:

          Birmingham already have Spector.

  5. malkin says:

    Bolton?

  6. David says:

    With no transfer fee because he is out of contract, maybe one of the promoted teams in England will consider signing him? I think he would have to go through one of those crazy MLS lotteries or allocations or whatever those things are because of his Gold Cup appearances. His hometown Chicago Fire could use him at right back if he was interested in playing in the US.

  7. fischy says:

    He’s not a good defender…but he’s young enough that he can still improve. You can’t teach speed, so he’ll have that for years. If he can figure out how to defend without hacking down attackers all the time, he can still fulfill his top-flight goals.

    • MMV says:

      When Lichaj is played on his natural right side he is a much better defender. He looks more comfortable and overall tends to read the game a little better from the right side. Hopefully, wherever he lands, he will be given an opportunity as a RB — exclusively.

    • Hogatroge says:

      He’s not a consistent defender. On occasion he’s excellent.

    • Ed says:

      All of you are spot on regarding his game. Very quick, agile player, his speed in person is really impressive, just flys down the flank. Sometimes gets caught ball watching, but overall his marking is decent but has a tendency to make clumsy challenges. Could be a starter in the championship for the next decade, but will probably bounce around lower level PL clubs.

    • Vic says:

      He played very well in his time with the USMNT. The BPL is a tough league to be a defender because of the speed of play and back and forth game. Its especially tough if you’re not from the UK and not used to the style. Bocanegra had some tough times at Fulham and was benched for many games at the same time he always played well for USMNT.

    • Doug B says:

      He shut down gareth bale and aaron lennon along with other top wingers. Please tell me how he isn’t a good defender

      • Jamie Z. says:

        We’ve already discussed this: he’s not a consistent defender. On his day, he can shut down some of the best players in the league, but just as often he can be a massive liability at the back. In addition, he offers very little going forward. In a scheme like Aston Villa’s, which doesn’t offer much width from the midfield (sound familiar?), it’s important to have fullbacks who can get up and down the wings. Lichaj isn’t able to do that effectively. I would have been happy to keep him on as a squad player, because I do appreciate his work ethic and ability to step in and do a job on defense, but if he is looking for consistent playing time, Villa is not an ideal arrangement.

    • GW says:

      Actually, he is much better defending than attacking.

  8. Anthony says:

    Championship League Football in England bound

  9. USSoccerHomer says:

    Lichaj should be looking for teams in the following order:

    1) newly-promoted EPL clubs
    2) Championship-side clubs that just missed out on promotion
    3) recently-relegated EPL sides that will bounce back after one year in the Championship
    4) Celtic
    5) teams he can get PT in the top tier of France, Spain, or Holland (last bc moving to a new country is always hard and involves a bunch of paperwork)

    Let’s face it, he’s not getting into 1.bundasliga or serie a any time soon. there’s no reason for him to come to MLS at this point in his career. He can catch on in Europe and improve his play.

    • HoboMike says:

      You had me until Celtic. No one should ever go play in Scotland.

      • Evan W says:

        Do you think Lichaj would be good enough to start for Celtic? I’m not so sure….

        I’m sure it would never happen but I would have no problem seeing Lichaj play for Motherwell if they were somehow able to keep their team together. Stuart McCall is a very good manager and Michael Higdon, Henrik Ojamaa, Nicky Law, and James McFadden are no joke. It would be a nice opportunity for him to be able to play in the Europa League.

      • USSoccerHomer says:

        I agree that Celtic’s not a real option (but I’m glad you kept reading thru #4), but 1.bundesliga isn’t going to happen for lichaj. I’m not sure 2.bundesliga is better than the championship and championship doesn’t require a move.

        The idea of him moving to Hanover to be Dolo’s understudy is interesting…

    • Lost in Space says:

      I’d replace Celtic with a lower level club in Bundasliga….maybe newly promoted Hertha, nearly religated Hoff. or possibly as Dolo’s backup at Hannover. Regardless of where he goes I hope he gets serious PT and a chance with the US National team again.

  10. Brian says:

    If he wants to increase his chances of playjng for the USMNT, he should sign with the Stoke reserves.

  11. The Imperative Voice says:

    Simon Dawkins could be an interesting MLS pickup.

  12. matt says:

    He’ll be in the championship next year, although if he can get DP status and money he could take a hard look at MLS.

    • Mike says:

      Club Captain Jack is doing pretty good at RB but we have a DP slot open in Portland and could use an upgrade at RB. I’m sure there’s a team in the MLS that would unload Club Captain Jack for us.

  13. QuakerOtis says:

    I never bought the hype on this kid. Seems a lot like obsessing over your team’s backup QB: everyone loves him, sees his potential… because he never actually plays. Then, when he does, he burns you. However promising he looked in a few stints with the Nats, he did not make the most of his limited playing time at Villa.

    Here’s hoping he gets enough pt to prove me wrong. Championship sounds good, as does Belgium, 2. BL, or Holland. But why not MLS? I could see him on NYRB. Would be an upgrade over Roy Miller fo sho.

  14. Sabella says:

    It’s beyond me why he hasn’t been called in by Klinsi. He has had material playing time in the best league in the world and he doesn’t get called in to the USMNT?

  15. RSLfan says:

    Personally, though a move to a championship team wouldn’t be bad, I hope he is able to secure a move to a top flight team in a place like Belgium or the Netherlands.

  16. Skifast! says:

    I’m hoping he can latch on to a club in Europe that is not playing in its domestic second division. Perhaps somewhere like the Netherlands?

  17. Keith G. says:

    I dont like the fact that you ask is he good enough to stay in England or should he go to MLS? Right there you are saying that the MLS is a weak league. Yes I would love to see him come to MLS, especially to the Red Bulls, get rid of Roy Miller please. Now I know the MLS is not the best league in the world, but if the US has its way it will one day be one of the top in the world.

  18. biff says:

    FYI: It appears that St. Pauli has not exercised it’s option to extend Joe Gyau’s loan for another year. St. Pauli has used a lot of loans in recent years and the new director wants to stop the practice. I personally don’t feel Gyau was giving a fair shot at St. Pauli, especially after the coach that brought him was fired. I think Gyau’s Hoffeneim contract runs until 2015. Will be interesting to see what happens.

    link to bundesliga.de

    • biff says:

      Which reminds, Hoffenheim’s first leg of the relegation tie against Kaiserslautern starts today at 2:30 pm ET in Hoffenheim.

    • bryan says:

      this is okay with me. like you said, he wasn’t really given a chance there. really hoping he can find a good spot for next season.

  19. bryan says:

    well hopefully he finds a good spot to land. i’m with others, if he can’t find a team in the EPL, Bundesliga, Serie A, or La Liga, i think France, Holland, Portugal, Belgium, or the Championship would be fine. if not there, it would be cool to see him in MLS.

  20. Turd Bradley says:

    he would be perfect for chivas usa

  21. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    He did well at Leeds. Im sure some Championship clubs will come knocking at his door.

  22. Kung Fu Kangaroos says:

    Everton should take a look since they will be losing Baines soon.

    • GW says:

      Do you think Lichaj would be an adequate replacement for Baines?

      Lichaj is better on the right side.