Monday, November 10, 2014

USA Greatest All-team 23 member team

USA at World Cup, 1950

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

African American Players
German Americans/American Germans
Hispanic/Latino American Players(USA)
What if USA World Cup 2010
NY CosmosLA GalaxyDC United,
University of VirginiaUCLA.

Although Football(soccer) is an obscure sport in the United States until the 1990's, however, the Americans performed well in the early history of the World Cup.  In 1930, they reached the semifinal.  And, in 1950, they pulled the biggest upset in WC history up to that point when they beat England 1-0.  However, the sport did not take off in the US.  Between 1950 and 1990, the Americans failed to qualify for any of the WC Finals.  

Then, in 1990's, a new generation of American players who grew up watching Pele, Beckenbauer and Cruyff playing in the NASL helped to put the national team back on the football(soccer) map.  They qualified for the 1990 WC Finals after a 40 year absence and reached the second round of the 1994 WC Finals.  In 1995, they beat Argentina 3-0 at the Copa America and advanced into the semifinal.  In 2002, the United States reached the quarterfinal of the WC Finals.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  The team is not an All-Star team. I tried to be as realistic as possible.   A few of the players are selected for tactical reasons at the expense of more famous players.

This is my all-time team for the USAIf there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  
World Cup 2002

GK: Brad Friedel
Brad Friedel is the current holder of the English Premier League record for most consecutive appearances with 310.  He played with Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspurs.  He is one of the oldest player to start a game at the English Premiership.  He also played for clubs in Denmark and Turkey.  He earned 82 caps.  He represented the USA at the World Cup in 1994, 1998 and 2002. He is best remembered for reaching the quarterfinal in 2002. 
Brad Friedel at the WC Finals, 2002
GK: Kasey Keller
Keller became the first American keepers to break through in Europe when he played for Millwall.  At Leicester, he won the League Cup. He also played with Tottenham Hotspurs, Southampton and Fulham.  He played in Spain with Rayo Vallecano and in Germany with Borussia Mönchengladbach.  In 2009, he returned home and played for Seattle Sounders.  He was capped 102 times.  He went to four World Cup finals.  He was the starting keeper at France 1998. 

Tim Howard earned over 120 caps since 2002.  He led the USA to the 2nd round at the World Cup Finals in 2014 with stunning performances throughout the tournament.  Howard started his career with the North Jersey Imperials before making a move to the MetroStars in the MLS. His appearances soon attracted the attention of Manchester United, who signed him in 2003. He moved to Everton in 2007 where he became a star player and played until 2016. He is now with Colorado Rapids.

RB: Steve Cherundolo
Steve Cherundolo spent a year at the University of Portland before going to play in Germany. He was the captain of Hannover 96 of the German Bundesliga, where he spent his entire club career.  He later set the team record for Bundesliga appearances.  He played for the United States men's national soccer team at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups.  He had 87 caps between 1999 and 2012.

RB:  Paul Caligiuri
Paul Caligiuri is best remembered for his game-winning goal widely dubbed the"Shot heard round the world," which helped the USA to qualify for the World Cup Finals in 1990.  He played at UCLA before turning professional. He was one of the few professional players on the 1990 WC team.  He spent most of his career playing in Germany and the MLS. He was capped 110 times. He went to two World Cup Finals: 1990 and 1994.

CB: Marcelo Bilboa
Marcelo Bilboa was known for his bicycle kicks.  He was the first player to break the 100 cap barrier for the United States.  He went on to earn 128 caps between 1988 and 2000.  He played in 3 World Cup Finals: 1990, 1994 and 1998.  He was best remembered for his career with Colorado Rapids for 5 seasons and a season with Leon in Mexico. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.  He was named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 1992 and 1994. 
Marcelo Bilboa
CB: Eddie Pope
Eddie Pope is considered one of the greatest American defenders.  He spent 11 seasons with DC United, where they dominated MLS in 1990's. He won the MLS defender of the Year award in 1997.  He later played for Metrostars and Real Salt Lake City.  He was capped 82 times between 1996 and 2006.  He went to three World Cup Finals: France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He helped the USA to win the Gold Cup in 2005.

Carlos Bocanegra started his career playing NCAA soccer with UCLA. He joined Chicago Fire in 2000. He also played professionally in England, Scotland, France, and Spain. His longest European stint was with Fulham, where he played from 2004 to 2008. He earned over 100 caps with the United States between 2001 and 2012, serving as captain for six years. He played in the World Cup Finals of 2006 and 2010.  He also won two Gold Cups for the USA.

CB/DM: Thomas Dooley
Thomas Dooley was the son of a US serviceman stationed in Germany and a German mother.  He won the Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern in 1990-1991 and then the UEFA Cup with Schalke 04 in 1996-1997.  He was capped 81 times between 1992 and 1999.  He was a key player as the United States reached the 2nd round at the 1994 World Cup Finals and was the captain at the World Cup in 1998.  He was the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 1993. He is a Members of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Thomas Dooley
LWB/LW: DaMarcus Beasley
After starring at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship, Beasley emerged as a star with the Chicago Fire before making a move to Dutch club PSV Eindhoven in 2004. He became the first American to play in the semifinal of Champions' League.  He spent a decade abroad, playing for clubs in Scotland, Germany, England, and Mexico before returning stateside in 2014.  At the time of writing, he plays for Houston Dynamos. He was capped over 120 times since 2001.  He is the only American to have played in 4 World Cup Finals.

Walter Bahr was thcaptain of the American team that upset England at the 1950 World Cup Finals.  He assisted on the goal that beat England. The game was considered the greatest upset in World Cup history as it was also England's first ever World Cup Finals.  He earned 19 caps from 1948 to 1957. He was a left halfback(which is left midfielder).  All three of his sons played professional soccer and Two of them were famous place kickers in the NFL.
 Walter Bahr (R) vs England in 1950 WC Finals
RB/CM: Rick Davis
He was one of the few American player who played in the height of NASL.  He played with Pele and Franz Beckenbauer at the NY Cosmos.  He is considered by many the best U.S.-born player of the North American Soccer League era and is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. He was capped 35 times.  He received a serious injury in 1989 and was not a part of the 1990 WC team.

Claudio Reyna was a star in the late 1990's.  He played college soccer with University of Virginia, winning three NCAA titles in three years.  He started his career with Bayer Leverkusen.  While playing with Wolfsburg, he became the first American-born player to captain an European club team. He also played for Rangers and Manchester City.  He earned 112 caps.  He was on 4 World Cup teams.  In 2002,  he was named in the World Cup all-tournament team after the USMNT reached the quaterfinal.  
Claudio Reyna
CM/RM: John Harkes    
At one point, John Harkes was considered the"Captain for life".  He had a great career in England when only a few Americans found successes overseas.  While playing for Derby, he scored the 1991 Goal of the Year in England. He also played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Nottingham Forest. He was a part of the great DC United team in the mid-1990's winning two MLS Cup in 1996 and 1997.  He played college soccer with Virginia.

Michael Bradley is the son of former US head coach Bob Bradley.  He played professionally in Germany, Holland, Italy, England and now, in MLS.  He was best-known for his stint with Borussia Mönchengladbach.  He was the first American player to play in Serie A since Alexi Lalas.  He played for Chievo Verona and Roma over there. At the time of writing, he earned 120 caps.  He played in the World Cup Finals in 2010 and 2014.  

RW/AM: Christian Pulisic 
Since 2016, Pulisic has been a part of the US players' pool. He is the the youngest player to score for the United States in the modern era. In 2015, he joined Borussia Dortmund.  Then, in 2019, he moved to Chelsea. The transfer fees was the most expensive of all-time for an American. After making his senior debut with the club as a teenager, he had been a regular player for them.
Christian Pulisic
AM: Tab Ramos  
Tab Ramos was probably the best American player in the early 1990's.  He spent his career playing in Spain before moving to the MLS.  In 1994, he was seriously injured after Brazil's Leonardo hit him with his elbow during the round of 16 at the WC Finals.  Because of his injury, he never played for Real Betis again, his club team at the time and ended his career in Europe.  He returned to the USA where he became a star with NY Metrostars. The same year, Ramos was chosen as the CONCACAF Player of the Year.

Bert Patenaude was only capped by the USA for 4 times, but scored 6 goals.  He scored 4 goals at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay.  He was also credited for scoring the first ever hattrick in World Cup history after scoring 3 goals against Paraguay. His total of 4 goals in the WC Finals stood as the all-time career mark for an American player for eighty years, until it was broken by Landon Donovan during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Billy Gonsalves was on the 1930 and 1934 World Cup team.  He was considered the greatest American player until the 1990's generation.He was often referred as the "Babe Ruth" of American soccer.  He spent over 25 years playing in various American professional leagues and was a member of the U.S. squad at the FIFA World Cup in 1930 and 1934. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

SS/AM: Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan is perhaps the greatest American player of the modern era.  He is the all-time leading scorer for the US national team.  He represented the USA at three World Cup Finals.  In 2002, he was named the best young player at the World Cup Finals. He was Honda Player of the Year for 6 times and US Soccer Athlete of the Year for 4 times and numerous awards in MLS.  He had a brief spell with Leverkusen before returning to MLS.  With LA Galaxy, he won four MLS Cup.
Landon Donovan
FW/AM: Clint Dempsey 
Clint Dempsey was perhaps the most successful American-born outfielder playing in Europe.  He was best remembered for playing for Fulham between 2007 and 2012.  He was their top-scorer for two seasons.  He was their Player of the Season twice.  He has also played for New England Revolution and Tottenham Hotspur. At the time of writing, he plays for Seattle Sounders in the MLS.  He has over 130 caps and played in the World Cup Finals of 2006, 2010 and 2014.

FW: Eric Wynalda 
At one point,  Eric Wynalda was the all-time leading scorer for the USA. He also scored the first ever goal in MLS history when he played for San Jose Clash.  He also played in the Bundesliga with FC Saarbrucken and Bochum.  He played in MLS with San Jose Clash, New England Revolution and Chicago Fire.  He had 106 caps and played at the World Cup Finals in 1990, 1994 and 1998.

ST: Brian McBride 
Brian McBride first made his name with Colombus Crew before moving to play in the English Premier League. He played for Fulham and served as their captain for 2007-2008 season.  He was their Player of the Year for both 2005 and 2006.  He earned 95 caps.  He was part of the U.S. team that played at the 1998, 2002, and 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals. He scored at the 1998 and 2002 tournaments and in doing so, became the first American player to score in two World Cups. 
Brian McBride
Honorable Mention
Tony Meola, Frank Borghi, Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando, Sergino Dest, Harry Keough, DeAndre Yedlin, Jeff Agoos,  Gregg Berhalter, Tim Ream, Mike Windischmann, Desmond Armstrong, Omar Gonzalez, Alexi Lalas, Aldo Donelli, Ed McIlvenny, Werner Roth, Archie Stark, Juli Veee, Arnie Mausser, Fernando Clavijo, Frankie Hejduk, Fabian Johnson,  Preki, Roy Wegerle, Joe Gaetjen, Ernie Stewart, Adolf Bachmeier, Jermaine Jones, Eddie Lewis, Hugo Perez, Clint Mathis, John O'Brien, Christian Pulisic, Jozy Altidore, Joe Max-Moore, Weston McKinnie, Adam Tyler.
Gold Cup 2007
 Squad Explanation
-- The greatest American footballers were probably Claudio Reyna, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.  All three of them should be automatic selections.
-- The US Soccer released its official All-Time Men’s National Team Best XI in 2013 for their Centennial anniversary. Brad Friedel, Marcelo Bilboa, Carlos Bocanegra, Eddie Pope, Steve Cherundolo, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tab Ramos, Claudio Reyna, Eric Wynalda and Brain McBride were voted in that team.
-- The IFFHS chose the following players for their All-Time Best XI: Brad Friedel, Steve Cherundolo, Marcelo Balboa, Thomas Dooley, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley, Claudio Reyna, Landon Donovan, Eric Wynalda, Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey
-- Until 1930's, soccer in the United States was a growing sport, but Between 1950 and 1990, the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup Finals.  The American players got limited exposure outside the United States.  The level of the domestic league before the signing of Pele by the NY Cosmos in the NASL was weak.  Rickey Davis was the only American of note playing in that era.  After the NASL folded in 1984, professional domestic soccer went dead for 12 years.  So this all-time team was geared toward the generation in the 1990's.  The selection was influenced by the 1994 World Cup and the launch of MLS in the 1996.  Furthermore, it was a period when American footballers started to play aboard regularly.  Those events shaped American "football".
-- Walter Bahr was the only player from the 1950 World Cup team to make this team.  The Americans beat England 1-0, which was considered to be the biggest upset in World Cup history.  It was turned into a movie "The Games of their lives".  John Harkes played Ed McIlvenny in the movie.
-- Only four players were not from the MLS era.  They are Billy Gonsalves, Walter Bahr, Ricky Davis and Bert Patenaude. The Major League Soccer All-Time Best XI was selected In 2005 as part of the league's tenth anniversary celebrations.  Seven of them were Americans.  Landon Donovan, Marcelo Bilboa, Jeff Agoos, Eddie Pope and Brian McBride made this team.  The other American players were Tony Meola and Preki.
-- The Americans reached the second round of a World Cup Finals for the first time as a host in 1994. Brad Friedel, Claudio Reyna, Paul Caliguri, John Harkes, Eric Wynalda, Tab Ramos, Marcelo Bilboa and Thomas Dooley played in that tournament.
-- In 2002, the Americans had its best result in their World Cup history.  They reached the quarterfinal.  Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel, Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and Eddie Pope were on that team.
-- The Americans have good goalkeepers, but Brad Friedel, Tim Howard and Kasey Keller were obvious choices.  The three of them had long and relatively successful careers in Europe.  
-- Brad Friedel was my number one because he led the Americans to the quarterfinal of the 2002 World Cup Finals.  He became the first goalkeeper to save two penalties in a World Cup Finals outside the shootout since 1974.  He also holds the Premier League record for most consecutive games played with 310.  During his prime, he had to share the duty with Kasey Keller.  They were rated almost equally, but Keller did not shrine in a World Cup Finals, which put him behind Freidel on this team.  He was remembered for his outstanding performance in an upset win against Brazil in 1998.  Meanwhile, Tim Howard had a great tournament at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup as well as the 2014 World Cup Finals. He also held the record of international appearances for an American goalkeeper.  His club career in England also spoke for itself.  I did not have a preference for number 2 or 3 on the team.
Tim Howard
-- Tony Meola was the fourth greatest.  I gave him credit for playing in two World Cup Finals.  For a long time, he kept both Friedel and Keller off the national team although most pundits rated the pair better than Meola.  He was chosen MLS's All-Time Greatest goalkeeper in 2005. Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando also made honorable mention.
-- Frank Borghi was the starting goalkeeper for the USMNT as they beat England in the 1950 World Cup Finals.
-- Paul Caligiuri is probably still among the greatest fullback in American history.  His shot against T&T in 1989 also helped him to get into the team.  That magical shot put US soccer back on the map. He was the USA Male Player of the Year in 1986. Steve Cherundolo established himself playing in the Bundesliga. He is probably Hanover 96's greatest fullback.  DeAndre Yedlin, Harry Keough and Desmond Armstrong also made honorable mention. Yedlin played over 120 games in the English Premiership. 
--The leftback position had been their weak spots.  In 2014, apart from Jeff Agoos, I could not find another leftback worthy of a spot.  I considered Fernando Clavijo and Frankie Hejduk.  That year, DaMarcus Beasley had just been converted into a left wingback. At the time,  I did not know where the change would lead him into.  Since then, he had established as a top left wingback in the United States.  I am unsure if he was a better leftback than Jeff Agoos, but he was a better overall player.  He was the first American to play in 5 World Cup cycle. I won't be bringing a left back backup.  Instead, I would use Carlos Bocanegra and Walter Bahr as the emergency backup leftbacks.  Sergino Dest also played the leftback position. It would be interesting to see if he would take the second spot in the future.  Fabian Johnson was also considered.  
-- Jeff Agoos played college soccer with Virginia. He joined DC United in 1996.  He won 5 MLS Cup titles, a record.  He was the 2001 MLS Defender of the Year. He was named the Best XI All-time MLS team in 2005.  He earned 137 caps for the USA, starting in 1988.  However,  he did not play his WC games until the 2002 WC Finals. He was elected for induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2009.  It was a difficult decision to cut him.
-- Eddie Pope was the first choice starting central defender for 9 years.  Marcelo Bilboa was close to being the best ever defender.  Then, I took Carlos Bocanegra.  The three of them was selected by the USSF as their greatest defenders alongside rightback Steve Cherundolo.  The IFFHS took Thomas Dooley instead of Carlos Bocanegra.  He had a great career in Germany.  In the 1990's, he offered professional experience to a relatively young US side before and during the 1994 World Cup Finals.  When he became a US citizen in 1992, his impact was immediately felt.  He earned 80 caps. 
Eddie Pope
 -- I omitted Alexi Lalas because his peak was too short.  It lasted for only 3 to 4 years.  His first season in Italy was great, but his second one was uneventful.  He was not always the starting central defender for the USMNT before and after the 1994 World Cup Finals. I did give him credit to be the first American soccer player who became well-known to the mainstream media.  However, I rated the four centrebacks I chosen ahead of him.  I also considered Oguchi Onyewu. He never settled in a bigger club playing in Europe. I counted that against him.
-- For midfielders, Walter Bahr was the captain of the 1950 World Cup team, probably one of the greatest ever performance by an American team at the World Cup Finals.  He was a left midfielder.  His three sons were also professional footballers in the NASL.  Two would become well-know kickers in American "gridiron" football.
-- Ricky Davis was the only American-born players who made a name in the NASL.  He played with Pele in New York Cosmos. He represented an era in American soccer history. John Harkes had a great career in England when only a few Americans found successes overseas.  He was the first American soccer player to ever feature in the Premier League. His goal for Sheffield Wednesday against Derby in 1990 was voted the Goal of the Year.  Michael Bradley had over 150 caps for the USA. He established himself in Europe.  Of course, Claudio Reyna was an automatic selection.  In 2002, he was named in the All-Star selection at the World Cup Finals.  How could I leave out Tab Ramos? He was MLS's first ever player signee.  He was featured in three World Cups and was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.  From 1990 to 1996, he was probably the best American player.
Tab Ramos
-- Preki was one of MLS's best players in the 1990's and were selected as on the MLS All-Time Best XI in 2005, but he did not earned his cap until he was 33 years old.  I left him off the squad because he did not have a long career with the national team.  I also found no space for Hugo Perez.  Perez was probably the best American player in 1990, but an injury kept him from the World Cup Finals.  
-- Ed McIlvenny briefly joined Manchester United in 1950.  He captained the match against England at the 1950 World Cup Finals.  Normally, Walter Bahr was the captain.   As mentioned, the American's participation of the 1950 World Cup has turned into a movie "The Games of their lives".  John Harkes played Ed McIlvenny in the movie.  Harkes made this team while McIlvenny made honorable mention.
-- In 2021, Weston McKennie is only 23 years old. He already earned over 30 caps.  He also held a position in a big club (Juventus). Tyler Adams captained the 2022 World Cup team.  I put them on honorable mention.
-- John O'Brien and Clint Mathis would have made the team if their careers were not cut short by injuries.  Both made an impact at the 2002 World Cup Finals. Jermaine Jones started his national career late. I don't know much about Adolf Bachmeier.  Chris Armas was selected MLS Best XI 5 times, but he never played in a World Cup Finals. They are on my honorable mention only.   
-- In 2014,  I selected Cobi Jones because of his long-time service to the national team.  He remained the most capped American player in history.  However, about 50 of his caps were played when the US national team was training full-time in Mission Viejo. So in 2023, I replaced him with Christian Pulisic,  He was a key contributor as Chelsea won the Champions' League.  He also had a successful career in Borussia Dortmund. No other American could claim that.
-- After playing college soccer with UCLA, Cobi Jones played with Coventry City and Brazilian side Vasco da Gama before joining the MLS in 1996, where he won two MLS Cups with LA Galaxy.  He was capped 164 times. He is the all-time cap recorder for the USA.  He played in three World Cup Finals(1994, 1998 and 2002). He also won the 2002 Gold Cup with the national team. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
-- On the left, Clint Dempsey could be deployed there.  He is the joint All-Time leading scorer for the USA.  In 2023, I added DaMacus Beasley to the team as a left wingback.  He actually deserved to be on the team back in 2014, but I could not find a space for him.  The left wide position would be well-covered.  I left off Eddie Lewis who played 82 times for the USA.
Clint Dempsey
-- For attackers, I first selected Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.  Both were tied for all-time leading scorer for the United States. Both were considered the greatest Americans of all-time.
-- Eric Wynalda was at one point the all-time leading scorer for the United States.  Brain McBride also had a steady career in England.  During his time at Fulham, he voted "Player of the Season" two times.
-- Roy Wegerle's club career in England was better than some of the players selected.  He was a star in England, but his impact to the USMNT was limited. He became a US citizen around the same time as Thomas Dooley and Earnie Stewart. The latter two all spent a fruitful career with the national team.  Perhaps, the prime of his club career was played before he became an American citizen.  In 1994, he had a bench role in the World Cup Finals.  By 1998, he barely made it to the team.  So I left him off the team.
-- Joe Gaetjens scored the most important goal in US history, namely the lone goal against England in the 1950 World Cup Finals, but he only played three games for the national team.  Moreover, we do not know much about him outside the three games. He only made honorable mention.
-- Aldo Donelli basically played one great game for the national team. It was hard to justify his selection. His career as an American football "gridiron" player and coach was however every interesting.  He had a storied career coaching Duquesne University, Columbia University, Boston University, and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Rams of the National Football League.  
-- Jozy Altidore, Ernie Stewart and Joe-Max Moore also only made honorable mention.
-- If Billy Gonsalves was nicknamed "Babe Ruth" of soccer, he must be on the team.   Bert Patenaude held the record of the most goals in a World Cup Finals by an American player.  He was the first player ever to score a hat trick in a World Cup. That record stood for 80 years. 
Billy Gonsalves and Bert Patenaude

Starting lineup
Perhaps, Billy Gonsalves could have started instead of Dempsey, but I opted for a younger lineup. Bahr was a left half-back.  I considered him to be box-to-box midfielder or defensive midfielder.  Some sources said that he could also play as a leftback.  I might move him there and start Michael Bradley, Ricky Davis or John Harkes on the midfield position.


1 comment:

  1. I had lost this list:
    scraps and leftovers:
    Davis Lalas Balboa Caligiuri
    Harkes Dooley
    Preki Patenaude Pulisic