Monday, November 10, 2014

USA Greatest All-team 23 member team

USA at World Cup, 1950
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.  

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
African American Players
German Americans/American Germans
Hispanic/Latino American Players(USA)

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.

Gold Cup 2007
GK: Brad Friedel
Brad Friedel is the current holder of the 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 Premiership.  He also played for clubs in Denmark and Turkey.  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 first made his name with Millwall, making one of the first American keepers to break through in Europe.  He went on to play in the English Premiership, La Liga and Bundesliga.  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 WC finals.  He was the starting keeper at France 1998.  

GK: Tim Howard
Howard 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. His appearances soon attracted the attention of Manchester United, who signed him in 2003. He moved to Everton in 2007 where he was a star player.
Tim Howard

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.

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

CB: Eddie Pope
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 was capped 82 times.  He went to France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. 
Eddie Pope
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.  He played in 3 World Cup Finals: 1990, 1994 and 1998.  He is best remembered for his career with Colorado Rapids and a season with Leon in Mexico.  He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

CB/LB: Carlos Bocanegra
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. He earned over 100 caps with the United States, serving as captain for six years. He played in the World Cup Finals of 2006 and 2010.

CB/DM: Thomas Dooley
Dooley was the son of a US serviceman stationed in Germay.  He won the Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern in 1990-1991 and then the UEFA Cup with Schalke 04 in 1996-1997.  Capped 81 times.  He was a key player as the United States reached the 2nd round at the 1994 WC Finals and was the captain at the WC 1998.  He was the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 1993.
Thomas Dooley
LB: Jeff Agoos 
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.

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 Virginia, winning three NCAA titles.  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.  
Claudio Reyna
CM/RM: John Harkes    
At one point, 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 was a part of the great DC United team in the mid-1990's.  He played college soccer with Virginia.

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 WC Finals in 2010 and 2014.  

RW: Cobi Jones
After playing college soccer with UCLA,  Jones played with Coventry City and Brazilian side Vasco da Gama before joining the MLS in 1996, where he won two MSL 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. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

Walter Bahr was the captain of the American team that upset England at the 1950 WC Finals.  He assisted on the goal that beat England. The game was considered the greatest upset in WC history.  He earned 19 caps. He was a left halfback(which is left midfielder).  Two of his sons were famous place kickers in the NFL.
 Walter Bahr (R) vs England in 1950 WC Finals
AM: Tab Ramos  
He 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.
Tab Ramos
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
Donovan is perhaps the greatest American player of the modern era.  He is the all-time leading scorer for the NT.  He represented the USA at three WC Finals.  In 2002, he was named the best young player at the WC 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 
He 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.  He has over 130 caps and played in the WC Finals of 2006, 2010 and 2014.
Clint Dempsey
FW: Eric Wynalda 
At one point, he 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, NE Revolution and Chicago Fire.  He had 106 caps and played at the WC Finals in 1990, 1994 and 1998.

ST: Brian McBride 
He 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: 2005, 2006.  He earned 95 caps.  He was part of the U.S. team that played at the 1998, 2002, and 2006 FIFA World Cups. He scored at the 1998 and 2002 tournaments and in doing so, became the first American player to score at two World Cups. 
Brian McBride
Honorable Mention
Aldo Donelli, Ed McIlvenny, Bertram Patenaude, Werner Roth, Archie Stark, Juli Veee, Tony MeolaFernando Clavijo, Frankie Hejduk, Alexi Lalas, Preki, Roy Wegerle, Joe Gaetjen, Ernie Stewart, Jermaine Jones, Alexi Lalas, Hugo Perez, DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Mathis, John O'Brien, Christian Pulisic.

Squad Explanation
  • The leftback position was very tough.  Apart from Jeff Agoos, I could not find another leftback worthy of a spot.  I considered Fernando Clavijo and Frankie Hejduk.  So I won't be bringing a left back backup.  Instead, I would use Carlos Bocanegra and Walter Bahr as the emergency backup leftbacks.  
  • I omitted Alexi Lalas because his peak was too short.  It lasted for only 3 to 4 years.  I did give him credit to be the first American soccer player who was well-known to the mainstream media. However, I rated the four centre backs I chosen ahead of him.  
  • 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.
  • Joe Gaetjens scored the most important goal in US history, but he only played three games for the national team.  Moreover, we do not know much about him outside the three games. 
  • Aldo Donelli basically played one great game for the national team. 
  • Roy Wegerle and Preki played their best games at the club level.  Perhaps, they were too old when they became eligible for the national team.  Their contributions to the USMNT were limited. I left both of them off.
  • John O'Brien and Clint Mathis would have made the team if their careers were not cut short by injuries. They are on my honourable mention only.
  • Jermaine Jones, DaMarcus Beasley, Alexi Lalas and Hugo Perez should be on this team, but I went for older players to create a better mix.
  • Bert Patenaude held the record of the most goals in a WC Finals by an American player.  That record stood for 80 years.
  • If Billy Gonsalves was nicknamed "Babe Ruth" of soccer, he must be on the list. 
  • Matt Bahr was the captain of the 1950 World Cup team, probably one of the greatest ever performance by an American team at the WC Finals. 
  • Rick Davis represented an era (NASL) and he was the only American-born star there.
  • I selected Cobi Jones because of his long-time service to the national team.
  • DaMarcus Beasley was one point projected to be one of the greatest ever.  He had a great career, but in the end, I did not have space for him.  I had Ramos, Reyna, Dempsey, Donovan, etc ahead of him.
  • I put Christian Pulistic, still a teenager on Honourable Mention.  Am I crazy? He is the first American outfielder who held down an important position for a major European club.  Dempsey and Reyna played in Europe for a number of years, but he never played in a good team in the Champions' League.  Pullistic had at least two seasons of that. 
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.

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