International Football

7 Players Americans Should Fall in Love with

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2013

7 Players Americans Should Fall in Love with

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    Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    We all know about the current stars of United States soccer like Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey

    While those stars are the present for the United States men's national team, the stars of the future are beginning to make noise in all parts of the globe. 

    Here is a look at seven stars of the future you should fall in love with right now because of their recent exploits on the soccer pitch. 

Aron Johannsson

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    Kyle Rivas/Getty Images

    Let's start this list with a young player who has the potential to become the next great American forward.

    Aron Johannsson, the 22-year-old blonde Kevin Bacon look-alike born in Mobile, Alabama has lit up the scoreboards in Holland this season for AZ Alkmaar.

    Johannsson has essentially replaced Jozy Altidore at the club level at the forward position due to Altidore's summer move to Sunderland, and the former Iceland U-21 international could easily do the same at the international level sooner rather than later.

    The 6'0" target man has already scored nine goals in all competitions for AZ this season and that form has earned him a consistent spot on Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man roster for international competition. 

    If Johannsson continues to develop at this rapid pace, he could easily be the top American scorer at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, especially if Altidore's form continues to drop at the club level. 

Danny Williams

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    Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

    Danny Williams was one of the first surprise call-ups to the national team of the Klinsmann era, but recently he has faded off the radar of mostly all American fans. 

    The 24-year-old defensive midfielder is now plying his trade in the English Championship with Reading, where he has made seven appearances, two of them being starts. 

    Williams will most likely earn another shot at the national team level in the months leading up to the World Cup as Klinsmann searches for role players that can fill a void off the bench in Brazil. 

    While he may not be considered a legitimate option in the defensive part of the midfield as of now, Williams' name is one to keep in the back of your mind, especially if he plays well in the upcoming months for the Royals. 

DeAndre Yedlin

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    The right-back position is the one position in the American squad where literally no one knows who will start there at the World Cup.

    One of those options is a player who a year ago was playing for the Akron Zips in the collegiate ranks. 

    Seattle Sounders right-back DeAndre Yedlin has had a spectacular season for the club mired in a major slump at the moment.

    Yedlin has stood out in more ways than one as his play, and electric hairstyle, have impressed many people surrounding Major League Soccer.

    The first homegrown player in Sounders franchise history was named as the third-best player on MLSSoccer.com's 24 Under 24 list that was released in September. 

    The 20-year-old is still a bit of a raw talent, but he is the future of the American back four, and with Steve Cherundolo aging rather ungracefully at the moment because of his injury issues, Yedlin's name should be mentioned more in the right-back conversation right now, instead of a year from now. 

Darlington Nagbe

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Darlington Nagbe is one of the best young talents in MLS at the moment, and although he has garnered plenty of attention for his play, he has received more press because of his citizenship situation. 

    The 23-year-old Liberian-born midfielder will earn his United States citizenship in 2015, and once he becomes a citizen he will surely get a phone call from whomever is in charge of the national team at that point. 

    The 2010 winner of the Hermann Trophy, which is the college soccer equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, has excelled in his third season with the Portland Timbers and it is only a matter of time before he attracts interest from European clubs. 

    The No. 2 pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft has scored nine goals and recorded four assists in 33 matches for the Timbers this season and his skill set would fit perfectly into the current 4-2-3-1 that is employed by the national team. 

    While his first appearance for the Yanks is still at least two years away, American fans should admire the play of Nagbe while he is still playing on their home soil. 

Osvaldo Alonso

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Diehard fans of MLS know all about the play of Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, but not many casual fans of the game know much about the Cuban defector. 

    Alonso is yet another player whose citizenship situation is a sticky one.

    Alonso is currently a United States citizen, but he played for Cuba when he was still based in the island nation. 

    The eligibility situation surrounding the 27-year-old two-time MLS All-Star may be a mess, but it is clear that there is mutual interest between Alonso and Klinsmann for the midfielder to suit up for the national team. 

    In an April article on MLSSoccer.com, both parties commented on just how difficult the process has been. 

    If, and only if, Alonso is cleared to play for the Yanks, his name will be mentioned more than it is now as he could potentially become a massive part of the American squad at the World Cup given the lack of consistency seen from Jermaine Jones in the defensive midfield. 

Paul Arriola

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    Photo via fifa.com
    Photo via fifa.com

    One player who could make a potential impact at the 2018 World Cup in Russia is Paul Arriola, who plays up front for Club Tijuana in Liga MX. 

    As an 18-year-old, Arriola has been able to earn consistent time in the first team at the club that is located just across the United States-Mexico border. 

    At the youth international level, Arriola has represented the U-17 and U-18 sides fielded by the United States. 

    While his name may not be in the national team discussion until the next World Cup cycle, Arriola's development over the next two years should be paid attention to by American fans that are constantly searching for the next best thing. 

Cody Cropper

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    Photo via saintsfc.co.uk
    Photo via saintsfc.co.uk

    Since it is common knowledge that American goalkeepers thrive in England, it came to no one's surprise that Cody Cropper earned a move to Southampton this summer. 

    Cropper is a long, long way from starting in net for the Yanks given the fact that Tim Howard and Brad Guzan will both be around for quite some time. 

    However, Cropper was the first-choice keeper for the United States U-20 team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup this summer. 

    Cropper may not see himself in the first team at Southampton any time within the next 12 months, but he is gaining plenty of valuable experience training at the club and playing in reserve matches. 

    At the raw age of 20, Cropper has plenty of time to develop given the shelf life of goalkeepers, who like fine wine usually get better as they age. 

    Cropper's name is one for the long-term future, but he is a player that fans should keep an eye out for every once a while as he is the best option at the moment to take over the American goalkeeping throne when the time presents itself. 

     

    Which American players do you think fans should fall in love with? 

    Leave me a comment below or send me a comment on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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