The soccer talisman: the player that possesses almost supernatural powers for his team and leads them to victory. The player who if the team is without, they will struggle to win.
Think Zinedine Zidane with the French National Team, Claude Makelele with Real Madrid, Xavi with Barcelona or Maradona with Argentina. Although usually a goalscorer or playmaker, this player is sometimes a defender, a holding midfielder or even a goalkeeper.
Over the past few years, the talisman for the United States Men’s National Team has been Landon Donovan. When the chips were down and the team needed someone to step up and win the game, Donovan has been there.
But, at 29, Donovan is entering what will most likely be his last World Cup cycle. And with other prospects to fill the void like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey or Carlos Bocanegra also nearing the end of their international careers, who will be next?
Note: For the sake of argument and looking to the future, anyone north of 25 years of age was excluded from the list, taking Stuart Holden or even outside candidates like Benny Feilhaber or Sasha Kljestan out of the running.