Lists are a popular trend in sports.
Whether meaningful or meaningless, lists are good. They force fans to think, to choose sides. Either you agree with the list and the order or you don't.
Lists aren't about being right. They're about creating a topic for conversation.
So here's the topic: Which U.S. players have had the biggest impact on American soccer?
Maybe it came through one big game, a great run of form, or through career achievements, but by whatever means, these players have left an indelible impression on America's soccer psyche.
This is a list of 10, so it is by no means complete...that's why a U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame was created. Soccer is a team sport, and American soccer is what it is today because of the efforts of a large group, not 10 individuals.
What follows are 10 athletes whose contributions to American soccer are a step above most.
A couple of caveats: The list is based on the "Rebirth of American Soccer," which began in 1990, when the U.S. Soccer got organized in a big way, sponsoring players, setting up a plan for the '94 World Cup, and setting long-term goals (say for 2010).
It is a list based on the accomplishments of players as of today. This list will change between now and the end of the World Cup, not to mention by the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It's more of an assessment of where the U.S. stood right before the 2010 World Cup.
Already players like Oguchi Onyewu (by playing for free at AC Milan next year) are making a huge impact. Even though he's barely missed the cut this time, he may find his way on the list in the near future.
Other honorable mentions include: Frankie Hejduk, Freddy Adu (for the hype), Paul Caligiuri, Michael Bradley, Bob Bradley, Carlos Bocanegra, Tab Ramos, Preki, Alexi Lalas, Marcelo Balboa, Earnie Stewart, and Cobi Jones. Clearly, there are too many names to list them all here.
Finally, the players were rated in how their accomplishments reflect the MNT. Club successes were considered, but only on how it affected the reputation of the player in relation to being an American or the national team.
If a player is a top-10 all-time scorer for in the New Zealand Premier League but only had one cap for the national team, his accomplishments have few repercussions for America or its team and the player was less likely to have an overall national impact.
The players are in order of their success; the greater the impact, the lower the number.