The United States is hardly renowned for its soccer with leagues such as the NFL and NBA dominating the sporting landscape. Even if many prefer to centre their attentions in the NBA expert picks, soccer is still a sport that is growing a lot in the US.
The country has also produced some genuine quality over the years and here we look at five of the best.
NUMBER 5 – COBI JONES
There are a few players who can count themselves unfortunate to miss out on our top five but simply put, we couldn’t not include the man who has made more appearances for the USA than anybody else.
Jones spent a year in the English Premier League with Coventry City. Although we’d happily place our bets on the fact, he would have been a huge success had he hanged around it was back in his homeland where he made a real name for himself – after a short spell in Brazil.
The dreadlocked midfielder spent 13 years with LA Galaxy from the formation of the MLS through to his retirement and his legend was secured as Galaxy retired his shirt number – a first in MLS history.
NUMBER 4 – TIM HOWARD
Howard is unquestionably an American hero and after racking up 121 appearances for the national team it’s no surprise he’s highly thought of. He’s played at two World Cups where he’s helped the US out of the group stage on both occasions and even set a record for most saves in a match (16) in the 2014 tournament. His side fell to a narrow defeat against Belgium.
At club level, he represented one of the biggest teams in the world in Manchester United where he won a League Cup and FA Cup.
The other European club he represented was Everton for whom he clocked up well over 300 appearances, including one where he scored from goalkeeping position. He wrote his name into Premier League history as one of four keepers to achieve such a feat.
NUMBER 3 – CLINT DEMPSEY
Dempsey spent three years with New England Revolution where he averaged a goal every three games, which saw Premier League Fulham bring him to England. Whilst with the Cottagers, he netted 60 goals including a hat-trick in January 2012 that saw him become the first American to net three goals in a Premier League match.
During that season he also set the record for the best goal return in a top tier European league by an American with 17 goals to his name. Dempsey’s performances earned him a big money move to fellow London club Tottenham where the sum involved (£6m) saw him become the most expensive American transfer. He produced the goods for the national team too as he notched 57 goals in just 141 games making him the nations joint top scorer.
NUMBER 2 – BRAD FRIEDEL
Friedel might not have as many international caps to his name as Howard but ranks above him as the greatest keeper the US have produced in our eyes. He still managed 84 caps and appearances at three World Cup finals, which is no mean feat but what really sets him apart is the records he set in England. He managed to play in the Premier League for 18 years (across four clubs) and did so until he was in his forties.
All in all he made 450 league appearances ensuring he’s turned out more than any other player from the American continents and remarkably 310 of those games were consecutive giving him the most back to back appearances in the competition, which is proof of his fitness, quality and consistency.
NUMBER 1 – LANDON DONOVAN
Was it ever in doubt? Donovan might have struggled to set the world alight in Europe but on home soil his place as a legend is assured. At club level he boasts more MLS assists than anyone else, has triumphed in the MLS Cup more than anyone else and his impact on the US game has been so great that the annual MVP award has been renamed in his honour.
That’s without his international achievements where he’s also the assists leader and shares the goal scoring record with Dempsey. Donovan is more than just numbers though and during his career with the US side he helped them to four Gold Cup wins and a World Cup quarter final in 2002 where he won the best young player award.
There you have it, five players who prove there is much more to the USA sporting system than quarterbacks. Have we got our five, right? Let us know below.