Matt Miazga hasn't had a regular first-team starting gig since he left the New York Red Bulls to join Chelsea. One imagines the 21-year-old was not expecting to walk into the starting lineup of a Premier League title contender, even when he joined it during one the rare recent seasons that Chelsea has not been in contention for a Premier League title.
Landing at his new club at the end of January, Miazga did get a couple of starts toward the end of the season, but it has been increasingly clear since new manager Antonio Conte took over that the young American was going to need to continue to develop with a different team - at least for this year.
Despite Conte himself essentially green-lighting the rumor mill to go wild with Miazga-loan stories, there hasn't been a lot of chatter about the center-back's temporary home for this season. He was linked to Eintracht Frankfurt, and to two unnamed Premiership clubs, and - fleetingly - to Leeds United.
Lots of tweets from the Chelsea end suggesting Leeds are signing Matt Miazga on loan. Another player on loan!? #lufc— The Mighty Leeds (@themightyleeds) August 16, 2016
*Googles 'Matt Miazga'* #lufc— CK (@ephemeraljoy) August 16, 2016
The Guardian has graciously stepped in to fill the void, casually reporting Matt Miazga has been "offered" to Sunderland at the end of a piece about Younes Kaboul's departure from the Black Cats.
Sunderland has served the aspirations of a young American soccer player quite well in the recent past: it was DeAndre Yedlin's Premier League incubator last season.
Yedlin, as it happens, landed at a London-based Premiership club - Tottenham Hotspur - in January (2015), stuck around for the remainder of that season to win
limited one appearance with the first team, and then took a loan to Sunderland to get better opportunity for playing time.
It's not a bad example to follow. Yedlin is almost exactly two years older than Miazga (both have July birthdays). At 23, Yedlin has 23 Premier League appearances with Sunderland (and one with Tottenham) under his belt and 39 caps for his country. If Miazga can get similar time in the EPL this season, he stands a reasonable chance of getting the sort of regular USMNT call-ups to which Yedlin has become accustomed.
Sunderland did alright by one young American last season. Miazga plays a different position, and doesn't have the same potential to be an impact sub as Yedlin (though most of the former Seatlle player's EPL appearances last season were starts), but he needs a place to advance his career. Sure, Sunderland - why not? He'll have to fight for time on the field, but if he wasn't prepared to do that, he probably would not have left RBNY. Or have been signed out of the Red Bulls academy before he finished high school.
For now, this is just a rumor - no more than the first of many, if Miazga continues to linger on the unused fringe of Chelsea's first team squad - but it's not a bad one.