Clint Dempsey and the 10 Best USMNT Players of All Time

Ned HarwoodContributor IIIJuly 21, 2012

Clint Dempsey and the 10 Best USMNT Players of All Time

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    It's a debate that will never truly have an answer. Comparing different stars from different decades is a common practice that probably is unfair to all involved, yet we do it anyway to entertain ourselves.

    There have been plenty of great American soccer players over the years, but here are the 10 I think have been the best to ever put on a Yanks jersey.

    As always, feel free to comment below on what your list would be as I'm sure there are plenty of different opinions out there. Enjoy!

Honorable Mention

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    Earnest Stewart

    Tim Howard

    Paul Caligiuri

    John Harkes

    Tony Meola

    Alexi Lalas

    Marcelo Balboa

10. Brian McBride

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    Previously the most accomplished American forward ever to play in the English Premier League, Brian McBride remains an all-time U.S. legend.

    McBride netted 33 goals in his four-year stunt at Fulham, an American record that was recently topped by Clint Dempsey this season. He ranks third on the all-time U.S. goals list and first in the hearts of many Yanks fans across the country. 

9. Tab Ramos

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    Tab Ramos was the first real star of the modern era of U.S. soccer that began with the 1994 World Cup.

    In 1994 he was selected as the CONCACAF Player of the Year and his excellent club career that featured stints in Spain, Mexico and the U.S. earned him a spot in the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.

    Ramos now is the manager of the U.S. U20 team. 

8. Thomas Dooley

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    Although Dooley isn’t one of the first names that comes to mind when great American players are first mentioned, he certainly deserves a spot in the top 10.

    The former USMNT captain played over 250 games in the leagues of German football, the majority of them in the first division for FC Kaiserslautern in the early 1990s. Dooley played ever single minute of the 1994 World Cup and was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the year in 1993 for his solid defense on the back line.

    Being a German-American, it wasn’t always a sure bet that Dooley would put on a red, white and blue shirt, but we should all be very thankful that he did. 

7. Kasey Keller

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    The recently retired veteran played in four World Cups and featured for the national team for over 17 years.

    Even at the late age of 40, he was still showing his world-class saving abilities for the Seattle Sounders after a long pro career overseas.

    However, possibly the most impressive stat is this: Of all the tremendous keepers in U.S. history, nobody has featured for the Yanks more than KK. 

6. Eric Wynalda

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    Also known as the man who scored Major League Soccer’s debut goal, Eric Wynalda had a phenomenal career in the red, white and blue.

    Wynalda played in three World Cups, scored 34 goals and was named the 1990s U.S. Player of the Decade. His outstanding international career certainly made up for his lack of a strong club career compared to the other players on this list. 

5. Cobi Jones

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    Anyone who ever watched the old-school L. A. Galaxy games knows just how dominant Cobi Jones was in his prime.

    The midfield maestro is an MLS and USMNT legend and remains the most capped U.S. men's player of all time with 164 appearances. The dreadlock hair style, the confidence on the ball and performance in the attacking third all were things that made Cobi Jones’ legacy a great one. 

4. Brad Friedel

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    With such a plethora of well-accomplished American goalkeepers in the nation’s history, it is hard to pick just one as the best of all time.

    But Brad Friedel’s incredible club career over time mixed with his 13 years of USMNT service have earned him the right to be labeled the No. 1 shot-stopper.

    Simply put, no American keeper has done it better for a longer period of time than Friedel.

3. Clint Dempsey

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    If I had written this list two years ago, Clint Dempsey probably wouldn’t have even graced the top 20.

    However, Deuce’s phenomenal last couple of seasons for Fulham and his ascension to becoming the "go-to guy" on the national team have earned him a massive jump in the rankings.

    He is the U.S.’ all-time leading EPL goalscorer and was the first American ever to score more than 12 goals in a season in the Premier League. His stellar 2011 has resulted in him becoming a hot transfer target for multiple prestigious English sides such as Liverpool and Arsenal.

    The era of Dempsey is upon us, and there is still a chance he may eventually reach the top spot someday. But not yet. 

2. Claudio Reyna

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    Undoubtedly, Reyna was one of the greatest players ever to put on a U.S. shirt.

    He is the only outfield player in U.S. history ever to play in four World Cups, and captained the USMNT side to the remarkable quarterfinal run in the 2002 World Cup.

    But it wasn’t just the national team where Claudio excelled.

    In England he played over 100 games combined for Manchester City and Sunderland from 2001-2007. Reyna now is the U.S. Youth technical director as his contributions to American soccer continue to make an impact.

1. Landon Donovan

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    He is the most famous and talented American soccer player ever to play the game.

    His leadership has led the USA attack for over a decade. His statistics rank him atop multiple all-time USMNT records.

    And his moments of brilliance have left millions of us crying of joy. Landon Donovan is the most influential and best player ever to grace a U.S. uniform to date.