Contentious 10 – The Best US Mens National Team Players Since 1980

It’s another edition of our ever popular Contentious 10 series. Today sees MLS expert and all round football enthusiast, Michael Chapman give his run down of the best US Mens National Team players since 1980. 

First of all the short list, for those who deserve at the very least an honourable mention:

  • Earnie Stewart 1990-2004: 101 caps, 17 goals; Scored 115 goals in 437 matches in at club level in the Netherlands.
  • Bruce Murray 1985-1993: 86 caps, 21 goals; 13 appearances for Millwall and 1 for Ayr United.
  • Eddie Lewis 2006-2008: 82 caps, 10 goals; Played for four different English clubs. An excellent left sided midfielder and left back.
  • Joe Max Moore 1992-2002 100 caps, 24 goals; *Scored 4 goals, 2 assists in 1 match 12/5/93 vs. El Salvador).
  • DaMarcus Beasley 2001-2013: 104 caps, 17 goals; Played for PSV scoring 10 goals in 56 matches.

So, here is the ten best American soccer players of the past 33 years. To come up with the list I ranked them both on their USMNT and club performances. Of course this will cause controversy, thats the point after all.

10. Cobi Jones


1992-2004: 164 caps, 15 goals: A leader on the pitch, creative and intelligent.  A sound defender who could mark his opponent out of a match and still make a few key passes. Jones totaled 70 goals and 91 assists in 306 MLS games. Also played one season at Coventry City.

9. Brad Friedel


1992-2004: 82 caps: Possibly the most under-valued of American keepers in the past thirty years. He was crowded out mostly in the early days by Kasey Keller and in his later days by the excellent Tim Howard. At club level he has been undervalued as well, as recently as at Spurs. 132 shut outs in 447 PL matches. His Favorite food is salmon.

8. Thomas Dooley


1992-1999: 81 caps, 7 goals: A former captain and leader of the back line for the USMNT, Dooley played most of his club football in Germany where he was born. He finished his club career in the MLS. While many mention Alexi Lalas or Marcelo Balboa as the best centre back in recent US history for me it was the calm and cool Thomas Dooley.

7. Claudio Reyna


1994-2006: 112 caps, 8 goals: Captain America as many have called him, was an excellent holding midfielder and right back throughout his career abroad and with the USMNT. Played for Rangers, Sunderland and Manchester City amongst other clubs. Reyna was considered a leader on the pitch, he lead by example.

6. Steve Cherundolo


1999-2012: 87 caps, 2 goals: For me Cherundolo is one of the most consistent American footballers of the past 30 years. Not just for the USMNT but for his club Hannover 96 as well, for which he has played 368 matches since the 98/99 season. In that time the right back has scored 8 goals and 22 assists for the club. Since 01/02 he has consistently been Hannover’s starting right back only recently giving way slightly. An American, starting for twelve years in Germany, for a Bundesliga club….impressive.

5. Kasey Keller


1990-2007: 102 caps: A USMNT regular who has played for top clubs in top leagues in England, Germany, Spain and the US. The most capped US goalie of all time. Rather than go on with stats and hyperbole, let a world footballing legend tell you how great he was. In the USMNT’s famous shutout win against Brazil the legend Romario said of Keller’s performance “That is the best performance by a goalkeeper I have ever seen.”

4. Clint Dempsey


2004 – : 94 caps, 32 goals: Arguably the most successful non-keeper in American soccer history to play in an overseas league. Dempsey followed up his early success in the MLS by joining Fulham in 2006. While it took him three seasons to truly find his footing, he was their most important offensive player during the 10/11 and 11/12 season. He earned a move to Champions League contenders Tottenham Hotspur in 2013. Dempsey has scored 31 goals in 77 matches for the USMNT since 2005.

3. Tim Howard


2002-  : 90 caps, 27 shut outs: A stand out keeper for the MLS club previously known as the New York-New Jersey Metro Stars. After one loan spell, Everton bought him outright in 2007. Since then he has been the most consistent net minder in England. Howard earned the number one spot in 2007 and has never looked like losing it. Athletic enough to have been “drafted” by the Harlem Globetrotters, his ability to stop shots even when out of position is legandary. He is the type of goalkeeper that thrives on action, the more shots he faces the better he plays. Oh, he’s also scored a goal at club level. Is with out a doubt the unofficial captain of the USMNT.

2. Landon Donovan


2000 – : 145 caps, 51 goals – He was the golden god that US Soccer felt they needed to build a new professional league around. After a failed attempt with the Bayer 04 senior side, he returned to the MLS with the Los Angeles Galaxy and essentially has never looked back. The most versatile offensive threat that the USMNT have ever had, playing as an attacking wing, attacking midfielder or even central striker. He makes quick accurate passes, is a talented dead ball artist and a threat from anywhere on the pitch.

1. Brian McBride


1993-2006: 95 caps, 30 goals – Quite simply the greatest centre forward that the United States has ever seen. Fantastic in the air, rarely could he beaten to a ball or knocked off one. Not the fastest player on the pitch, he countered this with his ability to find open space. Lead the charge of the second great American soccer revolution. He was the first ever US player to score in two World Cups, a considerable feat considering. McBride is considered one of the best forwards to ever play in the MLS.  Fulham Football Club and their supporters think so highly of him that they named the Craven Cottage bar after him.

Do you agree with Michael’ s choices? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @90minutecynic.

Michael is a cat enthusiast and a talented beard cultivator from middle America. To supplement the dull ache that comes with being a Newcastle United FC supporter he not-so-secretly roots for Celtic, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund. Besides football his other hobby is being the living embodiment of the Korean word Han. Follow Michael on twitter @NUFC_monkey

'Contentious 10 – The Best US Mens National Team Players Since 1980' have 2 comments

  1. July 27, 2013 @ 1:51 pm Neilmace

    Surprised that Tab Ramos’ elbow skills were overlooked.


    • July 27, 2013 @ 5:45 pm NUFC_monkey

      as an American I don’t know what you’re talking about… Tab doesn’t even have elbows… his arms stop at his shoulders…


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