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Ranking the Top 10 American Goalkeepers in History

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2014

Ranking the Top 10 American Goalkeepers in History

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    Don Ryan

    Over the last 20 years since the United States hosted the 1994 FIFA World Cup, one position has produced star after star.

    The goalkeeping position has made people gain more respect for the Yanks over the years because of how well the players at that spot on the pitch have done at home and abroad. 

    While not all the players on the list of the top 10 keepers in American history were able to see the bright lights of the English Premier League, and the World Cup, they still held their own during a lengthy career. 

    Continue reading on for the complete ranking of the top 10 'keepers that the United States has produced. 

10. Zach Thornton

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Zach Thornton was never a consistent member of the first team at the international level, but he was always a model of consistency as the first-choice 'keeper with two different Major League Soccer franchises. 

    Thornton, who was always left in the shadow of the likes of Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Marcus Hahnemann, made eight national team appearances from 1994 to 2001, but during that time, he was a stalwart between the sticks for the Chicago Fire

    After a lengthy career in the Windy City, Thornton ended his career on a high note with Chivas USA by winning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time in 2009. 

    During his club career, Thornton won three U.S. Open Cups, one MLS Cup and one Supporters' Shield.

9. Kevin Hartman

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    Brandon Wade/Getty Images

    With Kevin Hartman, you came to watch because of his bright blond hair and you stayed to watch his stellar technique in goal.

    Hartman, just like Thornton, never latched on as a permanent member of the United States team at the international level, but that did not stop him from becoming a legend in club football. 

    Hartman currently holds the records for most clean sheets, victories and saves in MLS history, as well as the honor of being the first 'keeper to win 20 games in consecutive seasons. 

    He spent most of his club career with the LA Galaxy, but he also turned in plenty of quality showings in goal for the Kansas City Wizards and FC Dallas.

8. Frank Borghi

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    Frank Borghi may not have had a long, illustrious career like the other players on this list, but he did leave an important mark on United States soccer history. 

    Borghi, who earned just nine caps for the Yanks, was in goal for one of the most important victories in the 101-year history of U.S. soccer.

    In 1950, Borghi held a clean sheet against England in the famous 1-0 victory that turned the entire squad that went down to Brazil into soccer immortals in the States. 

    And 26 years after the famous win in Belo Horizonte, Borghi and his teammates were inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. 

7. Nick Rimando

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Nick Rimando is presently the best goalkeeper in MLS, and his performances for Real Salt Lake over the last few years have solidified his spot as the No. 3 keeper on the United States depth chart. 

    The 34-year-old has made 14 appearances for the national team with his most recent coming on April 2 against Mexico. 

    The 35th overall draft pick of the Miami Fusion in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft is a three-time MLS All-Star and 2004 champion of MLS Cup.

    Rimando was also the first-choice keeper at the 2013 Gold Cup, a competition in which he started five of the six United States matches, including the 1-0 final victory over Panama. 

6. Marcus Hahnemann

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    At 41 years young, Marcus Hahnemann is still active with the Seattle Sounders, although he doesn't play much at all. 

    Before he returned home to the Seattle area in 2012, Hahnemann put together a respectable career in England with Fulham, Reading and Wolverhampton. 

    Hahnemann played the most for Reading, for whom he made 270 appearances, and he flipped between the Premier League and the Championship during his eight seasons with the Royals.

    The 'keeper, who only has nine United States appearances to his name but was named to two World Cup squads, also played 27 games in all competitions for Wolves during the 2009-10 season before he was relegated to the bench for the rest of his career in England.

5. Brad Guzan

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    Tony Marshall/Getty Images

    If you check back in a year or two, Brad Guzan could be higher on this list, but for now he remains further down on the list because of his lack of international appearances. 

    The Aston Villa first-choice 'keeper has recorded a total of 24 appearances for the United States at the age of 29, due to the domination at the position by Tim Howard. 

    Sometime after the 2014 World Cup, a changing of the guard at the position should come since Guzan has more than earned his spot at the top of the American goalkeeping totem pole.

    For the last two seasons, Guzan has been a rock between the sticks for Aston Villa, a club that avoided relegation after the 2012-13 season thanks to the efforts put in by the former Chivas USA player. 

4. Tony Meola

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    Dave Kaup/Getty Images

    Before it was a requirement to have no hair while manning the United States goal, Tony Meola blazed the trail for the current star 'keepers on the United States roster.

    Meola made 100 appearances for the United States from 1988 to 2006, and he was one of the best players of his generation. 

    At club level, Meola played for the MetroStars franchise before and after they changed their name to the New York Red Bulls

    In between his two spells for the New York club, he played for the Kansas City Wizards with 2000 being his best season in the midwest.

    In 2000, Meola won MLS Cup, MLS Cup MVP, MLS MVP and was named Goalkeeper of the Year. 

    The three-time World Cup squad member, and 2012 inductee to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, also holds the MLS record for most shutouts in a single season with 16 in that landmark year of 2000. 

3. Brad Friedel

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Brad Friedel began his international career as a backup to Meola at the 1994 World Cup on home soil, but as the years progressed, he developed into a reliable first-choice option for the United States. 

    Friedel's defining moments at international level came at the 2002 World Cup when the Yanks went on a run to the quarterfinals before falling to Germany. 

    During that tournament, Friedel became the first player since 1974 to save two penalty kicks outside of a penalty shootout at the World Cup.

    At club level, Friedel was one of the best 'keepers in the English Premier League for years with Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham. 

    Friedel started his time in England with Liverpool, but he never developed into a consistent first-choice 'keeper overseas until he moved to Blackburn. 

    The UCLA product ended his international career in 2005 with 82 caps, but he is still plugging away at the club level as the reserve 'keeper for Spurs. 

2. Tim Howard

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    Hans Punz

    Just like every great goalkeeper, Tim Howard has become even better with age. 

    At 35 years old, Howard is in great form for both Everton and the United States. 

    The leader of the United States back line is on track to travel to his third World Cup, his second as the first-choice 'keeper, and earn his 100th appearance in the process. 

    The two standout moments of Howard's international career came on the biggest of stages, as he held Spain to a clean sheet in the semifinals of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, and started the run down the field on the Landon Donovan goal against Algeria. 

    Early in his club career, Howard made headlines for leaving the MetroStars for Manchester United, but he has made his real mark on English football at Everton, where he has rarely had a bad game since his arrival at Goodison Park in 2006. This week Howard signed a new deal that will keep him at Everton until he's 40.

1. Kasey Keller

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    MICHAEL SOHN

    By the slimmest of margins, Keller edges out Howard for the top spot on the list—for now. 

    Keller, whose record for most appearances by an American goalkeeper at international level will be eclipsed by Howard in 2014, meant the most to the United States during a time where the nation was still finding its feet at international level.

    Keller's most memorable moment in the red, white and blue came back in 1998 when he made 10 saves against Brazil in a 1-0 landmark victory for the United States. 

    The four-time World Cup veteran also starred at club level in a plethora of countries from Spain to Germany to the United States. 

    The former Leicester City, Rayo Vallecano and Borussia Monchengladbach player returned home in 2009 to play for the Seattle Sounders, and in his final season, he was named the 2011 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. 

    Because of his career longevity, and the fact that his form never dropped below average before he retired, Keller is still the best 'keeper that the United States has ever seen. 

     

    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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