The Best American Soccer Players (August 2015)

Clint Dempsey (Photo: AP)
Clint Dempsey (Photo: AP)

With the conclusion of the 2015 Gold Cup, World Soccer Source is releasing its rankings of The Best American Soccer Players, a feature also called The Best American Footballers.

World Soccer Source believes that favoring Jürgen Klinsmann’s picks for the U.S. Men’s National Team paints an incomplete picture of the talent in the American player pool. Many of the best American soccer players have seen few to no call-ups under Klinsmann.

This list contains some new additions to MLS plus several young players who are too talented and performing too well to ignore. Another important thing to remember about American soccer players is some of the best ones are relatively new to professional soccer or underrated by their clubs.

Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley stand head and shoulders above all other American players. Benny Feilhaber is also finally receiving almost universal recognition for his outstanding form in MLS as a center midfielder and attacking midfielder.

After these three players, Fabian Johnson stands out, but the rest is debatable.

Below is World Soccer Source’s subjective rankings of The Best American Soccer players for August 2015:

1. Clint Dempsey (Forward); 2. Michael Bradley (Midfielder); 3. Benny Feilhaber (Midfielder); 4. Fabian Johnson (Defender/Midfielder); 5. Geoff Cameron (Defender/Midfielder)

6.  Brad Guzan (Goalkeeper); 7. Juan Agudelo (Forward);  8. Sebastian Lletget (Midfielder); 9. Ethan Finlay (Midfielder); 10. Dillon Powers (Midfielder)

11. Tim Howard (Goalkeeper); 12. Jozy Altidore (Forward); 13. DeAndre Yedlin (Defender/Wing); 14. Charlie Davies (Forward); 15. Mix Diskerud (Midfielder)

16. Lee Nguyen (Midfielder);  17. Alejandro Bedoya (Midfielder); 18. Bradford Jamieson IV (Forward/Midfielder); 19. Rubio Rubin (Forward); 20. Dax McCarty (Midfielder)

21.  Maurice Edu (Defender/Midfielder); 22. José Villarreal (Midfielder/Forward); 23. Kellyn Acosta (Midfielder/Defender); 24. Andrew Farrell (Defender); 25. Matt Miazga (Defender)

Honorable Mention: Joe Corona (Midfielder); Gyasi Zardes (Forward); Ventura Alvarado (Defender); Greg Garza (Defender)

 

23 For the U.S. National Team (August 2015)

Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey (Photo: Julio Cortez/Associated Press)
Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey (Photo: Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

After a very poor 2015 Gold Cup showing by the U.S. Men’s National Team, World Soccer Source proposes a new 23-man roster for the United States.

This current version of the roster proposal is based on a 4-3-1-2 or 4-3-3 formation, so there is a first choice and a second-choice option listed for all 11 starting spots, plus a third goalkeeper.

Ethan Finlay and José Villarreal are listed as wings, but neither is proposed as a starter because of World Soccer Source’s support of a midfield composed of Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, Benny Feilhaber, and Sebastian Lletget in a 4-3-1-2 formation.

The general tactical scheme for this 23-man roster is a Back Four with four midfielders and two forwards or a Front Six with a three-man midfield and an attacking trident.

Notes about the positions in the proposed roster and lineup options:

• Benny Feilhaber can be thought of as an attacking midfielder or as a center midfielder, and Sebastian Lletget can be thought of as an attacking midfielder or even something of a forward in certain formations.

• Ethan Finlay and José Villarreal are wings listed in the general category of attacking midfielders. Both players can play as forwards as well.

• The four forwards are essentially comprised of two second strikers and two first strikers. These positions are also referred to as withdrawn forwards or False 9s and center forwards.

• Juan Agudelo is both a second striker and first striker.

• Clint Dempsey is a second striker that also excels as a wing or attacking midfielder.

Here is World Soccer Source’s current 23-man roster for August 2015, and the center backs were hard to pick (a asterisk denotes the starter):

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan*, William Yarbrough, Clint Irwin

Center Backs: Maurice Edu*, Ventura Alvarado*, Andrew Farrell, Tim Ream

-Alvarado is likely ready to start after being tossed in the deep end during the Gold Cup.

Right Backs: DeAndre Yedlin*, Eric Lichaj

-Lichaj can play left back as well

Left Backs: Fabian Johnson*, Greg Garza

– Johnson also plays right back or as a wing.

Center Midfielders: Geoff Cameron*, Michael Bradley*, Kellyn Acosta, Dillon Powers

Attacking Midfielders: Benny Feilhaber*, Sebastian Lletget*, Ethan Finlay, José Villarreal

Forwards: Juan Agudelo*, Clint Dempsey*, Jozy Altidore, Bradford Jamieson IV

-Honorable Mention: Rubio Rubin

 

NT XI Proposal (4-3-1-2 or 4-3-3): Guzan; Yedlin, Edu, Alvarado, Johnson; Bradley, Cameron, Feilhaber; Lletget; Agudelo, Dempsey.

Tactical Formation:

Guzan

Yedlin-Edu-Alvarado-Johnson

Bradley-Cameron-Feilhaber

Lletget

Agudelo-Dempsey

 

Here is World Soccer Source’s 23 in a concise list:

NT 23: Guzan, Yarbrough, Irwin; Edu, Ream, Farrell, Alvarado; Yedlin, Lichaj, F. Johnson, Garza; Cameron, Bradley, Acosta, Powers; Feilhaber, Lletget, Finlay, Villarreal; Dempsey, Altidore, Agudelo, Jamieson IV.

 

The USMNT Must Improve its Midfield

Dillon Powers (Photo: Colorado Rapids)
Dillon Powers (Photo: Colorado Rapids)

 

After the United States’ poor play in the 2015 Gold Cup, improving the midfield should be the first thing to address.

With the exception of Michael Bradley, the U.S. Men’s National Team needs a total overhaul.

The American midfield must have some logical balance of center midfielders and attacking midfielders. There’s no possession or clinical and elegant passing in the American midfield, and there’s no collective defense being played.

The real problem with the midfield is the personnel. The right players aren’t starting, and the right combination of players are not being played together.

Under various national team coaches, the United States has not fielded a midfield with the right balance of possession and ball recovery.

In a time when the best club and national teams are mostly using a three-man midfield made up of a defensive midfielder, a center midfielder (box-to-box midfielder), and an attacking midfielder, the United States refuses to field something similar.

The American player pool has all of these types of midfielders, even if they aren’t famous, world-class players.

In the past, World Soccer Source has backed Dillon Powers, Michael Bradley, and Sebastian Lletget, and there’s no reason that these three midfielders cannot start for the United States now.

Many observers seem to want guarantees and years of experience from American players before even a single national team call-up for a friendly comes, but the United States isn’t at the level yet where qualified midfielders like Powers and Lletget can be left off the National Team, especially when they fulfill a specific need.

For a national team that needs to improve, inserting the impressive two-way play and engine of Powers with the skill, creativity, and activity off the ball of Lletget can improve the American midfield.

Bradley thrives in the center of the midfield, so he should start the deepest and in the middle of a three-man midfield. Powers provides enough running and defending to allow Bradley to go forward, but the midfield should really be a unit of three players working together with and without the ball.

Based on all of the available information, there is nothing to suggest that Powers and Lletget lack the talent, the confidence, the mentality, the work rate, or the athleticism to play for the National Team.

If the goal is to improve the National Team with quality players that can represent the team long-term in order to raise the level and respect of American soccer, then Powers and Lletget are the two players right now that can partner with Bradley for years to come.

Time will tell what other players make their case or how the careers of Powers and Lletget go, but these two midfielders are exactly what Bradley and the United States need to be more successful.

If for no other reason, Lletget and Powers can play with Bradley and produce quality and effective soccer, and this is so important for the midfield of a soccer nation on the rise.

The United States needs better coaching decisions to improve the midfield, and it shouldn’t be acceptable for various players that aren’t midfielders to be forced to play out of position in the midfield.

Powers and Bradley in slightly deeper midfield roles than Lletget is a sound formula to fielding a quality three-man midfield for the United States.

This trio gives the National Team technical skill, a high work rate, effective defending, and quality midfield passing.

 

Who Should the USMNT Start vs. Jamaica?

 

No one knows who Jürgen Klinsmann will start in the 2015 Gold Cup semifinal against Jamaica. Not even Klinsmann himself knows this. No point in guessing.

What about who should start and why? That’s easier to discuss.

Up to this point, Klinsmann has frequently forced Gyasi Zardes to play as a midfielder, and Alejandro Bedoya even played some 20 plus minutes at left back.

Let’s start with the center of the defense. Omar Gonzalez and Ventura Alvarado started together the last game and went the full 90, so starting them again makes sense for chemistry and consistency reasons.

Alvarado with John Brooks in the center of the defense gives the National Team more speed, but why throw the defensive chemistry into flux again?

Fabian Johnson has done well at left back, and starting DeAndre Yedlin at right back – his real position – gives the American defense more speed to chase down Jamaican attackers on the left side of Jamaica’s attack.

Yedlin is better than Timothy Chandler at chasing down and tackling attackers, so why continue to use Yedlin in the attack when the United States has Gyasi Zardes and Aron Jóhannsson to occupy the center to right side of the American attack?

In the midfield, Kyle Beckerman is a solid option anchoring the midfield as the defensive midfielder, but playing a three-man midfield of Mix Diskerud, Michael Bradley, and Joe Corona makes more sense. This gives the United States more skill, creativity, and possession, and Bradley can anchor the midfield in this tactical scheme.

Diskerud is not only a creative player that sets up goals and gets close to and into the penalty box to score them, but he’s also a center midfielder with a great engine and strong defensive skills. Corona is underrated in this area as well.

With Bradley and Diskerud carrying most of the burden of winning back possession in the midfield with Corona chipping in, as he did against Cuba in the second half of the previous game, the United States should have a nice balance of ball-recovery and possession.

This midfield isn’t perhaps up to the standards needed for a stronger opponent, but the United States could very well lose to Jamaica, so it’s important to give the midfield the pieces needed to keep possession and create goals.

It’s important to note that Alejandro Bedoya deserves to start in place of Corona or Diskerud, and most observers would say that he should.

Diskerud played well against the Netherlands and Germany before the World Cup, so it’s hard to say that his abilities wouldn’t be beneficial to the squad despite being relegated to the bench in recent games.

The USMNT would be wise to use a fluid attacking set-up against Jamaica to get Aron Johannsson, Gyasi Zardes, and Clint Dempsey all into the lineup, so an attacking trident would be a good option. Zardes has really been playing as a third forward anyway, and he is the ideal player to lead the line with Dempsey and Jóhannsson floating around him.

 

Below is the lineup discussed above, and it’s not the lineup the USMNT will likely use:

GK: BRAD GUZAN

RB: DeANDRE YEDLIN

CB: OMAR GONZALEZ

CB: VENTURA ALVARADO

LB: FABIAN JOHNSON

CM: MIX DISKERUD

DM: MICHAEL BRADLEY

AM: JOE CORONA

RW: ARON JOHANNSSON

CF: GYASI ZARDES

LW: CLINT DEMPSEY

Young American Attacking Talent

 

 

Is it true that the American player pool lacks the types of game-changing attacking players to take the U.S. Men’s National Team to the next level?

No.

The United States doesn’t have a Lionel Messi or a Neymar or an Alexis Sánchez, but that doesn’t mean that the United States doesn’t have dynamic, quick, and talented attacking players that can improve the Americans’ offense.

Besides the veteran Clint Dempsey, there are plenty of other young, talented American attacking players. These players aren’t veterans, but they are willing and able to be effective at the international level. Some are more ready than others.

Any American starting lineup should have two center midfielders responsible for recovering possession in the midfield, but it should also have four attacking players.

A respectable squad should have a center forward and either an attacking midfielder or a second striker. Likewise, fast and dynamic wings are also advisable to really compete at the highest level.

The formation impacts what kinds of attacking players start, but we can divide attacking players into four categories (some of which overlap): attacking midfielders, wingers, second strikers (withdrawn forwards), and center forwards (first strikers).

Below, World Soccer Source discusses several of these attacking players, and Juan Agudelo is excluded because he is a known commodity.

Bradford Jamieson IV, the jewel of this list, fits into every category.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of new American attacking players.

Let’s break down the players into categories:

Attacking Midfielders

(Sebastian Lletget, Emerson Hyndman, Marc Pelosi, Bradford Jamieson IV, Luis Gil, Benji Joya)

Technically, attacking midfielders includes wings and Number 10s, but here the term attacking midfielders will refer to Number 10s.

Sebastian Lletget has a ton of exposure playing with the LA Galaxy, and he keeps surpassing expectations. If you’ve been waiting for an American attacking midfielder or Number 10 that checks all the boxes for skill, athleticism, and workrate, then look no further than Lletget. The LA Galaxy attacking midfielder combines very well with elite teammates, and he puts the ball in the back of the net.

Now back in MLS, Marc Pelosi should have the playing time to be able to show more of what he can do. Luis Gil is a known talent that continues to improve, and Bradford Jamieson IV is more of a forward that is good enough to thrive in any attacking position (he’ll be discussed more later).

Benji Joya is a center midfielder that also thrives as an attacking midfielder or out wide, and he should soon see the consistent playing time to show all of his talent and qualities.

Wingers

(Bradford Jamieson IV, Ethan Finlay, José Villarreal, Paul Arriola, Jordan Allen, Romain Gall, Dillon Serna)

Ethan Finlay is playing outstanding in MLS where he showcases his speed and two-footed skill. Finlay’s bombing runs down the wings and inside toward the penalty box are a joy to watch. His first-time right-footed chipped goal, and his curling goal off his weaker left foot after cutting inside are two highlights that stand out for him.

José Villarreal has been displaying his creativity and footwork in MLS for several years, and he continues to show with the LA Galaxy why he should soon be a national team player. The Inglewood native is a prototypical winger who despite his flair likes to get physical. Villarreal is an ideal player to play as a wing in the midfield or in an attacking trident.

Paul Arriola had an excellent U-20 World Cup where he showcased his skill, speed, and toughness, and this club season with Club Tijuana should be a big one for him.

Jordan Allen continues to improve in MLS, and a more consistent playing position should see him thrive. Allen is mentally strong, fast, and technical with a big ceiling.

Romain Gall and Dillon Serna are similar to Allen in that more minutes and a more consistent position on the field should cause them to thrive. Serna has a collection of golazos going.

Second Strikers

(Bradford Jamieson IV, José Villarreal, Ethan Finlay)

Bradford Jamieson IV is a dream of a second striker or withdrawn forward. Amazing speed and exceptional skill and creativity make Jamieson the jewel of the United States’ upcoming attacking talents. Jamieson is a young Clint Dempsey, but much faster and maybe more technical and creative.

Ethan Finlay and Villarreal are normally thought of as wings, but they have all of the qualities to excel as second strikers, which is what Villarreal frequently plays for the Galaxy anyway.

Strikers

(Rubio Rubin, Jordan Morris, Mario Rodriguez)

Anyone that follows the U.S. Men’s National Team has seen Rubio Rubin and Jordan Morris play, and in the U-20 World Cup, Rubin gave American soccer fans a lot to be excited about. Both players have featured for the National Team.

Mario Rodriguez hasn’t featured like Rubin and Morris have, but he has all of the qualities to be a Number 9 for the United States. Talented, two-footed, fast, and tall, Rodriguez is a complete striker like Rubin and Morris are. Rodriguez is a big striker that excels with the ball at his feet, plus he’s good in the air.

It will be interesting to see if all three of these players play much for the National Team and how they compare to one another.

Lineup Decisions For the LA Galaxy

 

Who should start for the LA Galaxy?

With the arrival of central midfielder Steven Gerrard and attacking midfielder Giovani Dos Santos, who should start for the Los Angeles Galaxy?

There’s no need to change up the Galaxy’s solid defensive unit made up of Jaime Penedo in goal, Dan Gargan at right back, Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza as the center backs, and Robbie Rogers at left back, but there’s not enough room in the Front Six for all of the LA’s deserving players.

Making up the two-man center midfield or defensive midfield pairing, Juninho and Steven Gerrard is a strong and non-controversial pairing.

Juninho is a solid MLS center midfielder with several years of consistently good performances. Gerrard is a legenday center midfielder that can play a box-to-box role or deeper role where he anchors the midfield with his passing, vision, and recovery play.

Both Gerrard and Juninho are intelligent players that know how to adapt their midfield play to what is needed, so there’s no need to designate one as the defensive midfielder and the other one as the box-to-box midfielder. Both players will go forward or drop back depending on what the other one does.

The more attacking roles are where the 50/50 personnel decisions will arise. Whenever Robbie Keane retires or goes elsewhere, there will be one less set-in-stone starting spot, but for now, there are many line-up decisions to be made.

In the four attacking roles, Sebastian Lletget has cemented himself as a starter, and playing as an attacking midfielder right, left, or center likely makes little difference to his positive impact in the lineup.

Lletget can also play as a forward in several tactical setups.

Gyasi Zardes has to be considered the center forward, first striker, or Number 9 for this squad with Keane sitting underneath him as the second striker or withdrawn striker, and this already turns the Galaxy’s formation into a 4-4-2 with Juninho and Gerrard in the center of the midfield.

With the personnel in the roster naturally lending itself to a 4-4-2 formation, this puts Lletget and someone else as the outside midfielders or wings. Along with Lletget, the decision is Dos Santos or José Villarreal, and Dos Santos’ salary is several million dollars.

Dos Santos’ reputation and salary tends to make him be thought of as a starter, but Villarreal offers so much to the squad, not to mention his natural ability as a wing.

Villarreal like Dos Santos is left-footed, which makes him a strong choice to play as a left wing or as an inverted winger on the right wing.

For all of Villarreal’s skill, Dos Santos has to be considered more talented for now, but Villarreal is still on the rise. Villarreal is also a tougher player that runs more, tracks back more on defense, and plays with more physicality.

Comparing Villarreal and Dos Santos, Dos Santos is a more dynamic attacker, but Villarreal is also a skilled, quick, and dynamic attacker that provides more work rate and defending.

For the Los Angles Galaxy, the real lineup toss up will be the Dos Santos or Villarreal decision, and likely circumstances like fitness, injuries, and matchups will dictate who starts.

The Galaxy should be considered arguably the best team in MLS this season with their current roster, and the second half of the season should provide plenty of storylines about players and lineup decisions.

Bruce Arena will have to see what his best lineup really is and if there is more than one best lineup.

The New Look French National Team

 

Raphaël Varane and Paul Pogba. (Photo: AFP)
Raphaël Varane and Paul Pogba. (Photo: AFP)

 

Monsters in the midfield. Monsters in the defense. Watch out, Germany. France is still a real threat.

Paul Pogba and Raphaël Varane, arguably the best midfielder and the best central defender in the world. Both French. Both 22 years old.

UEFA Euro 2016 is next year, and the French National Team has built on its 2014 World Cup success to have an even stronger national team that must be regarded as one of the very best.

With Kurt Zouma and Raphaël Varane in the center of the defense and a midfield comprised of Blaise Matuidi, Morgan Schneiderlin, Geoffrey Kondogbia, and Paul Pogba, Les Bleus are a stacked and formidable squad poised to threaten Germany.

Not only is the entire spine of France virtually impenetrable, but every one of those midfielders and central defenders is technically-gifted – and all but Schneiderlin are truly world-class athletes.

Varane is a phenomenally smooth defender with explosiveness and refined fundamentals, and Zouma gives rivals night terrors.

While Varane is hard to wrong foot and next to impossible to outpace, Zouma is just plain scary to face.

With Varane, France already had arguably the best defender in the world, and Zouma has looked equally as good for Chelsea.

The French midfield is a four-man wall of center midfielders, and only Schneiderlin is strictly a defensive midfielder as opposed to the other three midfielders who are all complete center midfielders with the versatile to change positions during games.

Both Matuidi and Kondogbia are left-footed, but either one can line-up slightly right of center in the midfield. With Pogba best used in a more advanced position in the midfield, Matuidi or Kondogbia will have to be deployed as the right midfielder on paper.

With the exception of Schneiderlin, France’s midfield should prove to be a fluid trident of Matuidi, Pogba, and Kondogbia – any of them can play anywhere in the midfield.

While Antoine Griezmann deserves to start with Karim Benzema in the attack, Kingsley Coman of Juventus might just have too much skill, creativity, and speed to leave on the bench. Griezmann is an excellent passer and dribbler that leaves defenders for dead, but Coman is an a phenomenon like Varane and Pogba.

It’s unfair to Griezmann, but Coman might deserve to start over him for Les Bleus.

France has been excelling with the 4-3-3, and they should stick with this formation for consistency. In this set-up, Pogba can be thought of as part of the Front Three as a trequartista that defends.

 

In front of the Back Four, the two blocks of three would look as follows:

Matuidi  Schneiderlin  Kondogbia

Benzema  Pogba  Griezmann/Coman

 

As for the full 11, here is arguably France’s best line-up:

GK- HUGO LLORIS

RB- LAYVIN KURZAWA

CB- KURT ZOUMA

CB- RAPHAËL VARANE

LB- LUCAS DIGNE

RM- BLAISE MATUIDI

DM- MORGAN SCHNEIDERLIN

LM- GEOFFREY KONDOGBIA

AM- PAUL POGBA

F- KARIM BENZEMA

F- ANTOINE GRIEZMANN/KINGSLEY COMAN

 

Clint Dempsey, American Soccer Legend

 

 

Clint Dempsey continues to demonstrate how special of an American soccer player he is. Landon Legend isn’t the only American soccer legend.

Along with Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley, Dempsey’s abilities are on a different level than other American players.

Dempsey totally distinguished himself from all of his American peers except for Donovan as soon as he became a professional. His skill on the ball with his first touch and trickery were new for an American.

American soccer has been known for fitness and toughness without much technical skill, but Dempsey combined fitness and toughness with skill soccer.

Like Dempsey and Bradley, Donovan was an excellent two-footed player, but Dempsey has shown a level of fast footwork that has shown that Americans can use this sort of skill to be effective against elite competition.

Several other American players experienced success in the top European soccer leagues, but it was Dempsey that consistently performed and started in an attacking role in a major European league.

American soccer players not only owe Donovan a huge thank you for raising the bar on American soccer standards, but they equally owe Dempsey a thank you for his consistently good attacking performances for years at the club and international level.

Recently, there has been discussion of phasing Dempsey out of the National Team, but every time he plays for the United States, he showcases a level of skill and quick attacking play that the United States is hoping to see from all of its attacking players.

Dempsey is closing in on Donovan’s international scoring record for the United States, and it’s clear that Dempsey isn’t fully-appreciated by the American media and fans.

Before you support the phasing out of Dempsey, remind yourself that there is still no replacement for him and matching his achievements will be a big task for the next best American soccer player.

While Donovan is widely-considered the best American soccer player of all time, Dempsey is equally as good, if not better.

For his attacking skill, his success in Europe, his longevity, his heart, his toughness, his ability to score, and his trailblazing role for American soccer players, Dempsey has rightly earned the right to be called the best American soccer player alongside Donovan.

When Dempsey retires, don’t forget Dempsey’s achievements or the way that he played. There are no stats to describe Dempsey’s contributions to American soccer.

 

Brazil’s New Attackers

 

 

While the search for the Seleção’s Number 9 continues, two Brazilian attackers stand out as worthy of lining up to the right and left of Neymar.

Lucas Moura and Felipe Anderson are worthy to line up next to Neymar.

The Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF) must make sure that Lucas Moura and Felipe Anderson are put on the Seleção. These players embody the spirit of Brazilian soccer, and Neymar could use some more attackers that can shred defenders by themselves.

Time for Brazilian soccer to return to the electrifying and creative style of attacking play that made Brazil the undisputed best national team in the world in the past.

Lucas, Neymar, and Felipe Anderson can take Brazil back to futebol arte.

Assuming Brazil uses two excellent center midfielders and a quality Number 9, then the trio of Lucas, Neymar, and Felipe Anderson should make the Seleção a team to truly fear once again.

Brazil has been falling short of expectations, but the doomsday prophecies of Brazilian soccer are off base.

Brazil’s problems lay with finding a better starting line-up, and the main question marks are in the defensive midfield roles and the center forward position.

After all, Danilo, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, and Marcelo is an excellent Back Four, and Lucas, Neymar, and Felipe Anderson is an outstanding trio of world-class attackers.

While Lucas is a game-deciding attacker, his game is most associated with phenomenal dribbling and speed. Lucas is an excellent passer and finisher, but his speed and dribbling are huge x-factors.

Felipe Anderson combines playmaking with goal-scoring skill, and like Lucas and Neymar, he is virtually unplayable when he’s on his game.

Last season in Serie A, Felipe Anderson was the proverbial man on fire, and he and Lucas should help Neymar and the Seleção bring futebol arte back.

 

5 MLS Players That Can Improve the USMNT

 

 

 

The U.S. Men’s National Team could stand for an injection of new skill, and here are five MLS players that can improve the Nationa Team in the defense, in the midfield, and in the attack. All of these players are young enough to serve the National Team for many years.

 

1. Dillon Powers – Center Midfielder/Attacking Midfielder

Wanted: Two-Way Center Midfielders. The National Team could use an injection of complete midfielders to give the squad the type of passing, defending, and work rate that higher-level midfield play requires. Dillon Powers is the most promising of the newer center midfielders in MLS, and in his mid-twenties, he’s ready for international play now. The U.S. continues to field players out of position in the midfield, but Powers can excel as a box-to-box midfielder, as a Number 10, or as an attacking midfielder out right or left. Powers is also qualified to play as a defensive midfielder or Number 6.

2.  Sebastian Lletget –Attacking Midfielder/Center Midfielder/Wing

Playmaking and creativity in the midfield is one of the biggest weaknesses of the National Team. Link-up play between the midfield and the attack also continues to be a major weakness of the National Team. In a very short time in MLS, Sebastian Lletget has already demonstrated the qualities that transfer to the international game. His technical ability and work rate are excellent, and he’s fast and quick with a nose for goal. Lletget is a skilled finisher with either foot, and he combines quickly and well with skilled attacking and midfield counterparts. Looking over the American player pool, Lletget is a must for the National Team.

3. Andrew Farrell – Center Back/Right Back

The American defense continues to be a problem against the better national teams. The problem is having center backs that have the defensive abilities, technical skills, and athleticism needed to face off against elite attackers. Andrew Farrell stands out amongst the center backs in MLS. He’s good on the ball, strong defensively in all areas, and really difficult to body off the ball or beat for pace. In short, Farrell is a beast of a center back that defends well, plays well with the ball at his feet, and chases down attackers like a monster.

4. Bradford Jamieson IV – Forward/Wing

It’s no secret that the National Team is missing creative, skilled, and fast attackers that can score goals and create goals out of nothing. Bradford Jamieson IV is an 18-year-old attacking midfielder/forward that can beat defenders with skill, speed, or both at the same time. The LA Galaxy attacker can play anywhere in the attack, and he’s ready to play at the international level. Jamieson is a skill player like Clint Dempsey, but he has a level of speed and quickness that Dempsey never had.

5. José Villarreal –Wing/Forward

Attacking wide and centrally is important for attackers, and José Villarreal is a winger or second striker by trade that can improve the National Team’s ability to have a more dynamic and spontaneous attack. He’s another LA Galaxy player that looks like an upgrade to a dull and ineffective American attack – Clint Dempsey excluded. Villarreal is a lefty that also plays well with his weaker right foot, and he can serve the National Team well on the left, on the right, or paired with a Number 9 up top. Unlike many of the other attackers that have played for the National Team, Villarreal doesn’t need to be told to attack and go for goal. Like Lletget and Jamieson, this is another creative LA Galaxy player.