Ranking the 15 Best American Soccer Players in the World Right Now
And now for the lull in the action. The worst part about your favorite team being an international team is the return to club football and the month-long wait until the next set of games.
As those Americans who were called up to the United States Men’s National Team return to their clubs, and those who weren’t called up return from their breaks, let’s take a look at the 15 best American footballers in the world right now.
Just Missed the Cut
To be honest, once you get past the first 10 or 11 players, the competition gets pretty tight. So, let’s take a moment and recognize some of those who didn’t quite make the 15, but are certainly some of the top Americans out there right now.
Clarence Goodson—Goodson is a frequent USMNT call-up and the current captain of Brondby in the Danish League. He certainly isn’t flashy, but always puts in an honest shift and is a constant offensive set-piece threat.
Eric Lichaj—For the past year, Lichaj has been pushing his way into the starting lineup at Aston Villa with more and more frequency. Certainly, Jurgen Klinsmann will have to notice that, right?
Graham Zusi—At 26, Zusi is already a little long in the tooth to be called a hot prospect, but if his performance this week against Jamaica is any indication, he is just starting to hit his full potential.
Josh Gatt—The speedy 21-year-old winger for Molde received his first USMNT call-up last week—before having to drop out of the squad due to injury. Surely, he is one of the best American youngsters out there.
Terrence Boyd—The 21-year-old Rapid Vienna forward is just starting to come into his own and is off to a red-hot start with his club. It’s only a matter of time until he becomes a huge star with the USMNT.
Jozy Altidore—Ok, he didn’t do much to help himself this week on national team duty, but his club form over the past year has been more than solid. Hopefully, he’ll get out of his USMNT funk sooner rather than later.
Torres has been up and down for the USMNT as of late, but he is still one of the best hopes the Americans have for a true “playmaking” midfielder. His inclusion in this list while playing at less than his best is a testament to how shallow the American pool really is.
Kljestan has quietly become a consistent performer for Anderlecht in the Belgian League and has been picking up Europa League—and now Champions League—experience. Expect him to be called back into the USMNT camp sooner rather than later.
On pure talent, Jones is probably sixth or seventh on this list, but his propensity to do stupid things on the field, both with his club and internationally, have given him well-known reputations as a dirty player and a hothead.
The former Rangers midfielder—now at Stoke City—is a consistent, if not flashy player. He always puts in an honest shift and is versatile enough that he can be called upon to play in the back line when needed.
This rating is probably a little high just because Williams had such a solid game for the USMNT this week, but he has been a frequent call-up for the USMNT under Jurgen Klinsmann and the team has played better with him in the lineup than without. The USMNT has won 62.5 percent of their games with Williams in the lineup under Klinsmann. By comparison, Klinsmann’s has won 50 percent overall.
They may not always be pretty, but the fact of the matter is, Herculez Gomez’ ability to score goals has made him a valuable asset for both his clubs and his country. He has three goals in seven starts under Klinsmann and has become trusted by the USMNT manager because of his honest effort every time he steps on the field.
The former Houston Dynamo player has had a near-meteoric rise over the past year, turning a solid MLS season into a January USMNT call-up and then a move to England. Now playing for Stoke City, in his first two games starting as a central midfielder, Cameron’s smarts on the ball and physical prowess make him valuable in a number of positions.
Is Bocanegra more than a few years on the wrong side of 30? Yep. Is he still invaluable to the USMNT? Yep.
Bocanegra’s leadership on the U.S. backline is one of those intangibles you only notice when he’s not on the field. Like in last Friday’s 2-1 loss to Jamaica.
In addition, Bocanegra had been an intergral part of every club he’s ever played for: From the Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer, Fulham in the English Premier League, Rennes and Saint-Etienne in the French League, Rangers in the Scottish Premier League to Racing Santander in Spain.
Friedel has been retired from USMNT duty for a few years now, but the man dubbed “The Human Wall” for his performance with the U.S. in the 2002 World Cup is still going strong on the club front.
At the age of 41, Friedel has been an integral part of his team’s success at Blackburn, Aston Villa and now Tottenham, and holds the EPL record for most consecutive appearances.
At 33 years old, fans are always talking about how Cherundolo is nearing the end of his career, but the fact is, as Tuesday showed, he’s still getting it done.
The “Mayor of Hannover” captains his side in the German Bundesliga, no small accomplishment, and continues to beat out all comers for his spot in the USMNT’s starting 11.
Some fans have begun to sour on Donovan due to his less frequent, and to be fair, less impressive outings with the Nats over the past year. But, like it or not, Donovan is still one of the U.S.’ best players.
While he admits that he no longer has the passion for the game he once had, when he is in the mood, he can still put in a world-class performance, as he did against the Scots last May.
He is still one of the most dominant players in MLS despite the league’s growth and improvement over the last decade. And, like Cherundolo, despite his increasing age, he is still easily beating out dozens of younger competitors for his spot in the USMNT’s starting 11.
Johnson has quickly become a fixture in the starting 11 for both the USMNT and his club in the German Bundesliga, Hoffenheim.
Johnson is still very young at only 24-years-old, and is versatile. He can play as an outside back, a winger and an attacking midfielder. He will be one of the key players for the USMNT for years to come.
For years, many USMNT fans unfairly criticized Michael Bradley’s inclusion in the national team set-up as nepotism because his father was manager.
Even though that criticism was unfair, Bradley has removed any doubt among any lingering haters with his play for club and country over the past year.
After a failed loan stint with Aston Villa, Bradley turned a solid season at Chievo Verona in Serie A into a move to Italian powerhouse Roma where he looks to become a consistent contributor to a powerful midfield.
For the USMNT, Bradley has emerged as the team’s deep-lying playmaker, particularly impressive in his passing in this summer’s friendly against Brazil.
It wouldn’t be a USMNT game without the crowd chanting “Tim-my Howard!” after yet another big save.
A fixture for the USMNT and Everton in the EPL for the last half decade, Howard’s ability to make brilliant saves keeps both the U.S. and Everton in games against superior opponents.
With the USMNT, Howard always gives the U.S. a chance to win and has been the rock of a defense that has undergone a lot of changes and experimentation over the past few years.
Dempsey’s 23 goals for Fulham last season were part of the most prolific season ever enjoyed by a U.S. international in England and, prior to his ugly transfer saga this fall, made him a fan-favorite at Craven Cottage.
Dempsey has also been the most consistent goal scorer for the USMNT over the past year-and-a-half. His 28 international goals place him fourth highest goal scorer of all time for the USMNT. He only needs two goals to catch fellow Fulham and USMNT legend Brian McBride in goals scored and only six more goals to catch USMNT legend Eric Wynalda.
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