Ranking the Top 5 United States Men's National Soccer Team Players of All Time
The U.S. men's national soccer team has churned out some of the greatest players to ever take the world stage.
Every World Cup, it seems the international community is always surprised that the U.S. has one of the best goalkeepers between the posts, or when an American scores on a breakaway or makes a great tackle. But so it goes.
As the 2014 World Cup approaches, here's my compilation of the five best players to ever wear the stars and stripes...and only one of them is on the current squad.
Let the arguments begin!
Here are some who didn't make the list. As you'll see in the next few slides, these guys barely got beaten out, but they still missed the cut.
- Eric Wynalda, because other than Landon Donovan, no player has scored more goals for the U.S.
- Tim Howard, who anchored the national team during the 2010 World Cup and showed himself to be one of the best 'keepers of the tournament.
- Michael Bradley, because he's currently the best player on the squad that will go to the 2014 World Cup.
- Carlos Bocanegra, the most versatile defender in the history of the U.S. men's national team.
- Kasey Keller, whose performance between the posts against Brazil in the 1998 Gold Cup will keep him in the conversation for quite a while.
No. 5: Clint Dempsey
The most accomplished member of the national squad in England, Dempsey has filled in at winger, striker and attacking midfielder—and done superbly each time.
When Landon Donovan was out of the squad and Michael Bradley was coming into his own, Dempsey quite literally carried the team.
He's versatile, decorated and the second-leading scorer in American history. He most certainly cracks the top-five list.
No. 4: Claudio Reyna
Agile, clever and an excellent possession player, Reyna was a true No. 10—quarterbacking the team and always distributing the ball to the right person at the right moment.
When he wasn't excelling for country, he was with some of Europe's best clubs, including Rangers, Manchester City and Bayer Leverkusen. He was the type of player that every manager loves to have, unselfishly helping strikers score goals that wouldn't have been as easy if someone other than him were in midfield.
No. 3: Brad Friedel
When the U.S. men's national team made its improbable run in the 2002 World Cup, it was Brad Friedel who was in goal. His knack for stopping penalty kicks helped earned him the "Human Wall" nickname with fans.
Also, the fact that he's still on Tottenham's roster at the age of 43 is something to behold. I'd be surprised if any American goalkeeper is still playing in Europe at that age.
No. 2: Brian McBride
Incredibly exciting to watch, McBride helped put the U.S. on the map during the 2002 World Cup with his ability to score on the open play or in the air. The national team is still searching for a player of his ability to fill the void at striker.
No. 1: Landon Donovan
Any list of best players in U.S. men's national team history has to begin and end with Landon Donovan. Not only was he the spark the team needed in the 2002 World Cup, but he provided it shortly after his 20th birthday.
His absence from the 2014 World Cup notwithstanding, no one has scored more goals for country, no one has done more for the MLS, and no one has done more to make international soccer more popular in the United States.