The 5 Best U.S. Soccer Players Every Fan Should Know

Author: Jomathews


As it relates to soccer, the United States has a less rich heritage than many of the more famous nations of Europe and South America. Despite this, they have steadily made their way toward relevance over the last three decades. Between 1950 and 1990, the United States missed out on qualifying each year for the World Cup. Since 1994, however, the United States has qualified for every tournament since that time. Their own domestic league, Major League Soccer, was launched at the same time as the 1994 World Cup. It’s important to remember that while the standard of MLS is below that of the top leagues in Europe, keep in mind that the top leagues in other countries have over a century of experience with developing talent.

We are still searching for that one truly exceptional player, that player who makes an impact on the world stage and makes soccer the talk of the town. If a player is brought in for the USA, the player will probably be most prominent as a goal scorer, just as many of the world's greatest players were. Nonetheless, there is no denying that soccer has a rich history of talented players. We have listed the 5 Best U.S. Soccer Players till 2022 who have made significant contributions to the national team and have also achieved notable professional success.


1. Clint Dempsey


If you want to get a good idea of the psychology of an average American sports fan, Clint Dempsey might be the best candidate. Compared to others, who are considered to be more talented, forwards such as Donovan and Altidore are polarizing over their differences - the former for his bold approach, the latter for his inability to score; Clint enjoys widespread acclaim. The fast-paced attacker does not shy away from throwing tricks. 

But where some see arrogance, many Americans identify with a rugged, no-nonsense approach that’s just so American. While playing for the red, white, and blue, he has scored 47 goals, the fifth-fastest in tournament history, none more significant than his first World Cup goal against Ghana in 2014. In addition, he is Fulham’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League; his 50 league goals underline his versatility in adjusting his style of play to England’s combative style.

And this may be perhaps his greatest strength: no one has mastered the intersection of the advanced techniques of the modern game and the distinctively American no-give-up attitude quite like the man from Nacogdoches, Texas, they call Deuce. The chances of anyone ever doing so are slim. And so he easily makes it to the list of Best U.S. Soccer Players till 2022.


2. Tim Howard


The former Everton stopper recorded 16 saves – a World Cup single-match record – and was quickly labeled the “Secretary of Defense,” even receiving a call from President Obama and spawning the #ThingsTimHowardCouldSave hashtag for his exploits. But Howard’s shining moment was less an anomaly and more of the culmination of years of consistency and hard work.

A New Jersey native, the 6ft 3in Howard excelled in basketball as well as soccer in high school, but it soon became clear his true calling would be between the posts. After playing a mere six matches for the New Jersey Imperials, he was snapped up by the New York/New Jersey Metrostars of the MLS. Howard stayed there for five seasons, growing in stature each year and becoming one of the Best U.S. soccer players.

Soon he was attracting attention from abroad, and English giants Manchester United secured Howard’s services for $4m in 2003. Howard started well, but some inconsistent performances followed. It wasn’t until he was sent out on loan to Everton in the 2006-07 season that Howard lived up to his potential. He amassed over 300 appearances for the Toffees, and became a club legend in his own regard. However, Howard showed signs of decline, but if his World Cup performance truly was the last hurrah, it isn’t such a bad way to go out. 


3. Claudio Reyna


Reyna was a smooth midfielder who excelled at distributing the ball calmly from his position in the center of the park. Reyna was a key member of the ‘98, ‘02, and ‘06 World Cup teams, and US fans will always wonder if he could have contributed to the ‘94 team when the US hosted the World Cup and Reyna was unable to play due to a hamstring injury.

The son of Argentinian parents, Reyna was raised in New Jersey and opted to attend the University of Virginia even as European clubs made offers. He still went on to become one of the Best U.S. Soccer Players till 2022 to have a successful career abroad, playing in Germany for Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, in England for Sunderland and Manchester City, and in Scotland for Rangers, where he often played on the right side of midfield, and even right-back. That experience on the outside helped Reyna in the ‘02 World Cup when coach Bruce Arena positioned him as a right midfielder in a knockout game with Mexico. From that position, Reyna set up the first goal in a 2-0 US victory.

He finished his career with 112 caps and eight international goals. Reyna is currently the director of football operations for New York City FC in Major League Soccer. 


4. Michael Bradley


The son of former US national team coach Bob Bradley, Michael earned his first cap at the age of 18 under Bruce Arena but became a starter in the US midfield under his father in 2007. Known for his indefatigable work ethic, Michael played as a box-to-box midfielder during his first World Cup cycle and was an influential player in the US team’s semi-final victory over Spain in 2009 Confederations Cup. However, in that match, he received a dubious straight red card in the game’s final minutes, which kept him out of the final against Brazil.

At the World Cup in 2010, Michael's lung-busting performances helped keep the US alive, and he scored a vital late equalizer in the team’s 2-2 draw with Slovenia. Michael reached the 100-cap mark during the Gold Cup and has scored 15 goals for the national team, including four against arch-rival Mexico.

Currently, the captain of Toronto FC in Major League Soccer, Bradley played with distinction in Europe for eight years, in Holland for Heerenveen, Germany for Borussia Mönchengladbach, briefly in England for Aston Villa, and in Italy for Chievo Verona and AS Roma. He played every minute of all four matches for the US in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where coach Jürgen Klinsmann moved him into more of a central attacking role, and he eventually became one of the best U.S. soccer players till 2022.


5. Cobi Jones


If not for the elbow thrown at him by Mexico’s Rafa Marquez in the 2002 World Cup, Cobi Jones would still be part of US soccer history. The image of a 5ft 7in Jones lying on the field as Mexico raged at their World Cup collapse to their bitterest rivals is one of the most revisited ones from a famous rivalry. Jones was not just a victim, though. The battling midfielder was one of the most versatile attacking players of his generation – capable of filling in at forward or across the midfield for the national team and his beloved LA Galaxy, who he joined upon the founding of the league in 1996.

Jones played his way into contention in 1992 and was an ever-present in the residential camp that prepared for World Cup '94. He played 33 games for the national team in 1993, set records for assists, and became the first US player in 28 years to score in three consecutive games. By 2002, he was still an impactful substitute – though Jones himself felt the impact of Marquez’s head during USA’s famous 2-0 win in the knockout rounds. He continued to play until 2008, eventually amassing a record 164 caps for the national team. That ubiquity, and the conspicuous work rate that drives it, put him this high on the list.



Although, there has been a range of best U.S. soccer players till wear the American jersey, rather the opposite. America has produced outstanding - and sometimes legendary - sports stars throughout history who would probably hold legendary status if they played consistently in Europe. Instead, they are merely adored by the small but rapidly increasing segment of Americans who identify as soccer lovers. 


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