Paul Pogba, Technical Master

Paul Pogba, Technical Master

Paul Pogba should be praised more for his technique and creativity, but his physique and athleticism often receive more commentary from journalists and commentators.

The French midfielder is already a master with the ball, but he should use his left foot more. Pogba does have an excellent left foot, and using it more frequently would make him more effective and more unpredictable. Every year, Pogba has displayed more ability to beat multiple defenders off the dribble, and this is just one example of how his skill-set is much more advanced than he gets credit for.

A complete midfielder would be a better description of Pogba than an athletic and physically imposing midfielder. Pogba isn’t a player that can be categorized easily because he’s a Number 8 midfielder that also plays like a Number 10. At Juventus, Paulo Dybala is deployed as a second striker or trequartista, so this makes Pogba less of a Number 10 than his Number 10 jersey suggests. As a Number 8, Pogba is free to defend when he sees fit and attack and create when he sees fit. Raving about Pogba’s physical gifts is warranted, but his technique and skill are equally as praiseworthy.

The French midfielder will continue to improve his ability to control games, and that’s what Pogba brings to his teams: the ability to take over and win games. It would be a shame to see Pogba go to Barcelona and Real Madrid if that meant that his game was stifled or forced into some cookie cutter mold. With Barcelona or Real Madrid, Pogba would likely be forced to defer too much to other teammates. It’s important to defer or take charge as situations demand, but being forced to a deferential role over some South American player would be a waste of Pogba’s talent.

Pogba should be allowed to lead his team even if there were more than one leader, but Pogba’s skill shouldn’t be undervalued just to have a hardworking midfielder. Juventus values Pogba, and any description of Pogba where his physique and athleticism are mentioned without mentioning his masterful skill are incomplete and biased descriptions.

The French midfielder has a rubberband-like flexibility like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and that ability allows Pogba to deftly control the ball in almost any situation. In addition to being a master of controlling the ball, Pogba is also an expert shielder of the ball, and he often makes defenders look helpless as they try to take the ball off him.

To go along with the dribbling, control, physicality, and running, the French midfielder is also a world-class passer and dead ball specialist, and these qualities make him a player with no real weaknesses. He can beat you off the dribble or beat you with passes, and the goal is under threat when Pogba is within 45 meters of it.

Who knows why journalist Mina Rzouki makes a point of always highlighting Pogba’s physicality while taking subliminal shots at his footballing mind and technical skill? This characterization of Pogba is way off base and fails to accurately describe the player.

The Ballon d’Or is certainly a possibility for Pogba, and he is the best midfielder in world football.

A Better USMNT Midfield

A New United States Midfield Three

The American midfields under national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann have been ever changing, and the United States Men’s National Team would benefit from order and consistency.

A three-man midfield is as good as any, and one of the hallmarks of a three-man midfield is the inclusion of a defensive midfielder, a box-to-box midfielder, and an attacking midfielder.

Frequently, three-man midfields have one defensive midfielder and two box-to-box midfielders with the attacking midfielder or playmaker up with the Front Three.

Who should be in the American Midfield Three?

World Soccer Source backs the use of Michael Bradley as the defensive midfielder with Darlington Nagbe and Dillon Powers as box-to-box midfielders.

One bonus of using Nagbe and Powers is that both of these players have the endurance of Number 8 midfielders with the creativity and technical ability of attacking midfielders.

Nagbe has often been praised for his ability to roam all over the field and transport the ball from deep in the midfield into the attack, and this Number 8 role allows him to do that with the national team just like he does with his club team, the Portland Timbers.

Dillon Powers has to be high on the list of underrated American soccer players. After winning MLS Rookie of the Year several years back, Powers has continued to show why he is a much more talented and complete midfielder than the types of midfielders that the United States used to produce. Too many of these midfielders were simply hustle players that were hard tacklers, but they lacked the actual skill to be able to perform at the international level against better competition.

After years as coach of the United States, it’s unclear why Klinsmann has never once used Powers. There’s no justification or explanation for it. His competition was never Bradley and Jermaine Jones, as both of those players could mesh well with Powers.

With the Copa America Centenario coming up this summer, the United States needs to greatly improve the overall skill and tactical formation of its midfield or risk getting embarrassed by superior South American competition. A Midfield Three of Powers, Bradley, and Nagbe makes so much sense, and given how little thought it took to propose it, it’s a wonder that Klinsmann has never bothered to try it.

After Nagbe has shown well for the United States, he still doesn’t appear to be one of the first names on the lineup sheet for Klinsmann, and this is worrying. If deserving players can show well and impress their teammates and still not become starters, then how much hope can there be of Klinsmann using a better midfield this summer?

With both Powers and Nagbe in the Midfield Three, Sebastian Lletget is best used on the right in the Front Three as Clint Dempsey should be the first option to line up out left in that free attacking role.

The Return of Chris Klute

The Return of Chris Klute

With the return of Chris Klute of the Portland Timbers back to full fitness, he immediately moves into discussion for a roster spot on the United States Men’s National Team at left back because the United States still doesn’t have one. Of course, Brek Shea, Jorge Villafaña, Fabian Johnson, and Kellyn Acosta all come to mind for the two roster spots for left back, but Jürgen Klinsmann has refused to settle on or stick with a viable choice.

Although Johnson is the clear front runner in that group, Johnson has a tendency to not track back enough on defense and run out of stamina during games. If you also consider the fact that Johnson is really a winger, then Klute’s name must be considered a viable possibility for the national team’s left back (Klute also plays right back).

Klute has several qualities that make him an worthy option to be the United States’ left back. He’s lightning fast and truly a two-way outside back, and Klute is technically-sound with both feet and a solid defender. Unlike many of the other left back options, Klute is not only comfortable playing the position, but he’s also very comfortable with both feet. He doesn’t have a tendency to avoiding using one of his feet to control, win, or play the ball.

Speed kills, and probably no one in MLS is as fast as Klute. But, don’t dismiss Klute has a speed merchant without technical ability or defensive skill. Klute is a clean tackler that times his tackles well. Having a left back that can chase down attackers and attack himself down the sideline can only help the U.S. National Team.

One area where Klute needs to improve is his willingness to shoot on goal when he gets himself near the penalty box. Klute can burn defenders and cut inside with ease, but he frequently doesn’t take advantage of the prime position into which he has put himself. Klute needs to channel his inner-Marcelo and let those shots fly. Rather than stopping his attacking forays and looking to drop the ball off to someone behind him, Klute needs to keep surging forward and force the goalkeeper to make a save.

Playing for the United States would expose some areas where Klute must improve, but Klute is quality outside back with an amazing x-factor of world-class speed.

Michael Bradley Should Play Defensive Midfielder for USMNT

Michael Bradley Should Play Defensive Midfielder for USMNT

Michael Bradley was born to play as a defensive midfielder. Bradley’s incredible engine – meaning his cardiovascular stamina – has been praised for years, and this has caused some coaches and fans to push for him to play a more offensive role in the midfield. But, Bradley’s ability to run hard for more than 90 minutes is a key quality for a defensive midfielder.

Having the energy and endurance to constantly cover for the defense and present oneself as a constant passing option is vital for a defensive midfielder. Somehow, there is a belief that Bradley’s ability to run nonstop is wasted as a defensive midfielder, but that position is a physically demanding position. In fact, not having the air in one’s lungs or the power in one’s legs to be able to mark and chase down opposing players would be a major problem.

At the base of the midfield, Bradley can control the United States’ passing and protect the American backline from being overrun and burned. Playing the defensive midfield role doesn’t mean that Bradley can’t advance forward together with the team, and it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have any cover to make attacking forays. The Number 8 midfielder or box-to-box midfielder has the responsibility to cover for the defensive midfielder in this situation. The American midfield needs a tireless runner at its base, and this is where Bradley can best use his skill set. The base of the midfield even affords Bradley more touches on the ball, and therefore more influence on the game.

The misuse and miscasting of players has been a constant problem for Jürgen Klinsmann, and a non-American example of this was his attempt to get rid of Thomas Müller when Klinsmann was the coach of Bayern Munich. Bradley and Jermaine Jones have been consistently misused by Klinsmann, and the American midfield continues to be too weak as a result of not having a defensive midfielder with the technical ability and athleticism to truly compete against top national teams.

With the emergence of Darlington Nagbe, it makes sense to use the more dynamic Nagbe in his natural role as a Number 8 with a flair for the offensive. This means Bradley as the Number 6 and Nagbe as the Number 8 makes a lot of sense for the United States, and as World Soccer Source has previously written, Sebastian Lletget should be given the Number 10 role and set loose.

Bradley has many years of excellent soccer ahead of him, and it’s time to stop forcing him into different midfield roles that don’t suit him or his teams. For the National Team, using Bradley correctly as a defensive midfielder ultimately means the more creative Nagbe and Lletget can play the more attacking roles.

Don’t forget that, with AS Roma, Bradley’s position was listed as a “mediano” which is the midfield destroyer role.

The Best Brazil Lineup Right Now

The Best Brazil Lineup Right Now

Despite Dunga’s recent use of some different formations, for many years now, Brazil has favored the 4-2-3-1 formation with two defensive midfielders behind a line of three attacking midfielders who themselves are behind a center forward.

Let’s look at the best Brazil lineup starting with the goalkeeper.

Now back from injury, Diego Alves is the best Brazilian goalkeeper around, and he showed this over the weekend against Barcelona and their attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Luís Suárez, and Neymar. Brazil has several excellent goalkeepers, but Diego Alves is widely-regarded as the best.

Daniel Alves is still the best Brazilian right back, and he proved this when he saved Brazil over Paraguay in the most recent World Cup qualifier when he surged into the penalty box, executed a stepover with his right foot, went left, and curled in a goal with his weaker left foot. That goal saved the draw for Brazil in a game that they couldn’t lose.

That being said, Danilo is a force of nature at Real Madrid, despite often being favored behind Dani Carvajal. Danilo is so talented that he can cut inside onto his weaker left foot and crush shots into the goal from outside of the box. Danilo is even two-footed enough to have played left back for Real Madrid.

Along with Danilo, Bruno Peres of Torino deserves mention as well. The Torino outside back storms the flank like no other, and he’s capable of burning the entire opposition on full-field individual dribbling runs. Like Daniel Alves and Danilo, Bruno Peres is rather two-footed.

For Brazil’s two center backs, Thiago Silva and Marquinhos must be considered the two starters. Thiago Silva has been blackballed by Dunga, but Thiago Silva is still considered the best defender in the world. He is called The Monster for a reason.

Marquinhos is something of a prodigy. He’s the young center back that all of the big clubs want as he combines electric pace with excellent technique and defending. Marquinhos is somewhat comparable to the French defender Raphaël Varane, but Varane is better. Unlike David Luiz, Marquinhos doesn’t have a reputation for ill-advised tackles or fouls.

David Luiz is often a convenient scapegoat for Brazilian fans, but David Luiz is an excellent center back in his own right.

Marcelo is the best Brazilian left back, but Alex Sandro of Juventus is coming. In recent years, Marcelo has vastly improved his defending and his right foot. Some people favor Filipe Luís over Marcelo, but Marcelo is a much much impactful player with better skill and attacking play. Marcelo is a hugely disruptive force to opposing teams, and he instantly puts the opposition on their heels and throws them into disarray. You could say that Marcelo’s play opens up more holes and channels for the likes of Neymar to exploit.

Luiz Gustavo has been a reliable defensive midfielder for Brazil, but Casemiro of Real Madrid has been showing better club form with Real Madrid. Casemiro is also a better passer than Luiz Gustavo, and Brazil’s passing and possession have been well below its previous levels. A better ball-playing defensive midfielder can only help Brazil to not only keep possession but play more directly with balls played through and behind the defense.

To be Casemiro’s deputy as the Number 8 or box-to-box central midfielder, consider Allan of Napoli. Of all the Brazilian Number 8s, Allan has to be considered the best one right now. Allan play’s the position the way Brazil wants it to be played, and Allan has proven himself in Serie A. Allan combines ball-winning with forward runs into the attack, and this is precisely what Brazil requires.

In the line of three attacking midfielders in front of the defensive midfielders, there is plenty of competition such that there isn’t room for Felipe Anderson, Coutinho, and Lucas who are all nothing short of world-class attackers. Brazil has an embarrassment of riches at these attacking positions, so there can be no excuse for Brazil’s current slump or unimpressive form. Felipe Anderson, Coutinho, and Lucas were labelled surplus to requirements in the starting lineup, so that leaves the starters: Willian, Neymar, and Douglas Costa.

You could argue that Neymar is the second best player in the world, and that Willian is the best player in the English Premier League. Willian is definitely Chelsea’s best player, and he brings a complete attacking game where he can play centrally or out wide. Willian is world-class in his dribbling, speed, passing, and scoring ability, and on the opposite flank should be Douglas Costa who has been electrifying for Bayern Munich.

Douglas Costa needs to mesh better with Neymar, but Douglas Costa is a world-beater that is simply too good to not start for Brazil. His play can free Neymar up to score even more goals for Brazil. Neymar’s best position for Brazil is centrally where he controls the game more and sees more of the ball, but the left flank is arguably equally as effective of a spot for Neymar.

The striker or center forward spot for Brazil is a weak spot. Firmino has played well in that position for Liverpool where he has shown that he can be extremely active and get behind defenders. Firmino can score with both feet and his head, and of course Firmino combines well with skillful teammates. He may not be the stereotypical center forward, but he is a center forward just like Alexis Sánchez and Sergio Agüero are – even though those two are better.

Theoretically, Pato is supposed to be Brazil’s Number 9 by now. Pato, now with Chelsea, is healthy, and he deserves a shot playing as Brazil’s lone striker. If Pato starts seeing more club minutes, then he is undoubtedly Brazil’s best center forward.

Here is the Brazil lineup proposed above:

Goalkeeper- Diego Alves (Valencia)

Right Back- Daniel Alves (Barcelona)

Center Back- Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain)

Center Back- Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

Left Back- Marcelo (Real Madrid)

Defensive Midfielder- Casemiro (Real Madrid)

Central Midfielder- Allan (Napoli)

Right Wing- Willian (Chelsea)

Number 10- Neymar (Barcelona)

Left Wing- Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich)

Striker- Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

 

Bayern Munich Must Normalize the Lineup

Bayern Munich Must Normalize the Lineup

In order to win the 2016 Champions League, Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich would be wise to decide on a consistent lineup, rather than continuing to trot out an ever-changing formation and group of players.

Unlike the midfield and the defense, the attack is perhaps easier to iron out quickly. If Bayern use a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1 formation, then several players stand out as starters: Robert Lewandowki, Thomas Müller, Douglas Costa, and Kingsley Coman.

A strong argument can be made for Mario Götze over Coman, even though Pep Guardiola doesn’t seem to rate him. It’s important to note that both Götze and Coman are prodigies, but Coman has more soul-crushing skill and speed. But, whether Guardiola likes it or not, Götze is a talented attacking player than delivers in big games, and Guardiola must consider him for a starting spot in the Champions League semifinals.

Despite how devastating Coman has been, starting Götze with Müller, Costa, and Lewandowski makes sense. This also gives Bayern an amazing super sub in Coman whom Juventus unwisely let Bayern have on loan. Guardiola can’t go wrong with either Coman or Götze, so perhaps only Lewandowski, Müller, and Costa should be considered locks as starters.

Arturo Vidal is another key player whose role Bayern needs to iron out. Vidal knows how to play as a purely defensive midfielder, but his real value is his completeness as a midfielder with his ability to surge forward. Vidal is perhaps the key to the Chilean national team’s one touch passing in tight spaces, so banishing Vidal to the back of Bayern’s midfield isn’t the best use of his skill-set. Surely using Xabi Alonso, Joshua Kimmich, or Javi Martinez for this role makes more sense. There is also the possibility of going with Thiago Alcântara and Vidal in the holding midfield roles. Both players are willing and able to cover for each other.

These types of interchangeable lineup choices aren’t the type of lineup adjustments that Guardiola has been criticized for. It’s rather the constant changing of defensive setups and defenders that is the real problem. Going from three center backs to two and always changing the center backs is Bayern’s main tactical problem. Of course, Guardiola has dealt with a lack of healthy defenders, and this has forced him to get creative with his center back selections. Once Jérôme Boateng is healthy, then Guardiola will only have to slot either Kimmich or David Alaba alongside Boateng. Everything changes if Mehdi Benatia is healthy as well. That gives Bayern two center backs by trade.

Using Kimmich and Vidal as the two holding midfielders behind a three-man attacking midfield line of Coman/Götze, Müller, and Douglas Costa with Lewandowski as the center forward is Bayern’s best chance at a tactically sound lineup that can win the Champions League. That leaves a Back Four of Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, and Juan Bernat with Manuel Neuer in goal.

Therefore, here is one opinion of Bayern’s Best XI to try to win the 2016 Champions League: Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Alaba, Bernat; Kimmich, Vidal; Coman, Müller, Douglas Costa; Lewandowski.

 

The Clint Dempsey Supremacy

The Clint Dempsey Supremacy

This column isn’t about Landon Donovan and whether he lived up to his potential. This column is about the supremacy of Clint Dempsey in American soccer history.

Of all the American soccer players, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley have the best club resumes – because compared to other American soccer players – these two had the most success against high-level competition. Bradley has more impressive club names on his resume – like Roma – but Dempsey displayed the most skill and success consistently over time.

Dempsey showcased a level of technical skill and the ability to compete and be successful against quality European club competition that no other American really showed. Although Dempsey played for a small EPL club in Fulham – as well as Tottenham Hotspur – he still was consistently an effective and skillful midfielder and forward for seven years in the EPL.

On the international level, Dempsey showed an ability to always perform well regardless of the competition or the importance of the game. By scoring in three consecutive World Cups, Dempsey proved himself to be a consistently good player that didn’t just enjoy a few moments of success.

The Texan has been a complete player for all of his professional career. Dempsey combined skill with toughness and athleticism, and this allowed him to not be outclassed with skill or bullied with physicality and tackling. Whether defenders came at Dempsey with some roughness or with skill, Dempsey had the skill-set and tools to be effective. Other Americans have also been effective, but Dempsey was really the first to showcase impressive skill and technique even against elite competition. He didn’t just standout technically against weak opponents, but he was also a technical and skillful player when he faced off against elite defenders.

One of the problems for Dempsey’s reputation and fame has been that he has been dismissed as sort of mediocre in comparison to the world-class talents, but not being as talented as the handful of elite attacking players at the current moment doesn’t mean that Dempsey wasn’t a skillful and accomplished player on the club and international level. Another problem for Dempsey’s reputation is that he’s often described as just a tough or gutsy player without any mention of his fantastic skill with the ball.

By playing for a small EPL club for so long, many critics dismiss Dempsey’s accomplishments as not being with a top EPL club, so therefore his accomplishments are considered equal to Donovan’s MLS accomplishments; but, this is a flawed mentality and argument. When Dempsey was excelling in the EPL consistently, he was competing against top EPL clubs all the time, so his success was against better talent that Donovan faced. Landon Donovan was a great American player, but let’s not say that Donovan’s accomplishments compare to Dempsey’s against better competition on a bigger stage.

Both players are excellent players with perhaps the same level of actual ability, but Dempsey was playing against better competition in a better league. As Dempsey gets closer and closer to breaking Donovan’s international goal record with the United States (Donovan 57 goals, Dempsey 49 goals), it will be harder to keep insisting that Donovan was a better player than Dempsey.

More so than just a player that was good enough and athletic enough to be successful at the higher levels of soccer, Dempsey was and still is a creative and technical player that showcased a mastery of the ball with both feet, and it is this visual display of skill in real games that makes him the best American player ever.

Sebastian Lletget For the USMNT

Sebastian Lletget for the U.S. Men’s National Team

Sebastian Lletget is the Number 10 that the United States have been looking for. The LA Galaxy attacking midfielder and forward brings creativity, technical skill, quickness, a low center of gravity, and active movement off the ball.

Lletget is a triple threat in that he brings passing, dribbling, and scoring. Recently against the Portland Timbers, Lletget showed how he can thrive when playing his natural position as a playmaker. With Robbie Keane injured, all of the passing and play came through Lletget, and he was able to showcase what he can do when playing his best position. The former U.S. youth international is a complete enough attacker that he has also thrived with the Galaxy in a wide role, but in the middle, Lletget has more touches on the ball.

As several people have commented on social media, there are shades of Clint Dempsey in Lletget’s balletic dribbling, and this sort of comfort and facility on the ball is the main skill that the United States and American soccer have been missing. Let’s not forget that Lletget also knows how to put the ball in the back of the net with both feet. He’s proven himself to be a composed finisher.

Lee Nguyen and Darlington Nagbe have shown well with the national team, but their inclusion doesn’t exclude Lletget. In fact, taking nothing away from Nguyen, Lletget is a more valuable player than Nguyen. Despite being an attacking midfielder, Nagbe does bring a box-to-box element to the national team, so there’s no reason to think that he and Lletget cannot play together. Right now, a strong argument could be made that the best three-man midfield might be Michael Bradley, Darlington Nagbe, and Dillon Powers, and this leaves room for Lletget to start in the attack with Dempsey and a center forward.

The United States needs Lletget’s skill-set as a goalscoring playmaker that has a direct and creative style of play. Someone needs to provide some of the creativity and skill that usually only Dempsey brought to the table, so why not let Lletget play with Dempsey this summer in the Copa America Centenario?

Lletget is ready to play for the United States now. He isn’t just a promising player or an interesting prospect, but he is arguably the best American attacking midfielder now along with Nagbe. Based on his club form since the beginning of the 2015 MLS season and his overall skill level, Lletget should not only be on the national team roster, but he should be a starter.

Selecting a USA Copa America Centenario squad (April 2016)

Selecting a USA Copa America squad (April 2016)

If you’re a fan of the U.S. Men’s National Team, then you should be concerned about how good the competition will be in the Copa America Centenario. Whether or not Lionel Messi, Luís Suárez, or Neymar play, most of the national teams are much better than the United States. The United States have a decent national team with certain players who are much better than the rest of the team, but with the best American footballers playing together, the United States can play better than ever under Jürgen Klinsmann’s tenure as coach.

In the last World Cup qualifier against Guatemala, Klinsmann made sure to not field an unbalanced lineup with players out of position, and several players like DeAndre Yedlin and Steve Birnbaum proved to be improvements to previous players at their positions. This is something positive for the United States. With Geoff Cameron partnering with Birnbaum in the center of the defense, the American defense looks more technical and less porous.

I’ve always contended that Klinsmann doesn’t ever have a first team in mind with substitutes for each position, and this causes him to select a roster that has too many players for some positions and not enough for others.

Looking at the American player pool and recent U.S. games, it is possible to propose a decent 23-man roster starting with the goalkeepers and on down to the center forwards.

Goalkeepers

Brad Guzan, William Yarbrough, David Bingham

Brad Guzan is the Number 1 right now as he’s younger than Howard and playing regularly in the EPL. The second-choice goalkeeper should be William Yarbrough who has performed solidly for the United States when given the chance, plus he’s a starting goalkeeper in Liga MX. Yarbrough is a reliable goalkeeper that’s good with his hands and feet, and he’s in good form. Maybe some of the other goalkeepers in the pool are just as good or better, but Yarbrough is a wise choice here. David Bingham looks like the third goalkeeper for now. He has been widely praised for his play in MLS. Clint Irwin has a case here as well.

Defenders

Center Backs (4): Geoff Cameron, Steve Birnbaum, John Brooks, Matt Miazga

Right Backs (2): DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Johnson

Left Backs (2): Brek Shea, Jorge Villafaña

Cameron and Birnbaum seem like the best center back options right now, but Matt Miazga and John Brooks are quality center backs that also bring the combination of skill, athleticism, and defending. Let’s not forget the Miazga is on Chelsea’s roster, and Brooks is a proven Bundesliga center back who is a frequent scapegoat for USA fans.

If you follow American soccer, then the outside backs are self-explanatory. With two right backs and two left backs listed, this group is already better than Klinsmann’s normal treatment of outside backs as an afterthought. Yedlin and Johnson are the best starting options, but there is some concern that Johnson doesn’t always look like he has the stamina to track back on defense. Shea normally looks like he has more energy to chase down attackers out wide. Johnson is a much better winger than outside back, but he’s needed here on the roster to fit in the midfielders needed below.

Midfielders

Defensive Midfielders (4): Michael Bradley, Perry Kitchen, Fatai Alashe, Kellyn Acosta

Attacking Midfielders (4): Dillon Powers, Darlington Nagbe, Sebastian Lletget, Christian Pulisic

The midfielders included here are essentially two defensive midfielders, two box-to-box midfielders, two attacking midfielders, and two wings (Ethan Finlay listed in the forwards is a winger by trade as well and Sebastian Lletget is really a Number 10). With these eight midfielders, the American roster actually has the personnel needed to field a balanced and effective three or four-man midfield. Fatai Alashe and Kellyn Acosta are great examples of how Bradley is needed more as the defensive midfielder instead of the box-to-box midfielder which is where these two thrive, and Klinsmann rates both of them. Kitchen is a true Number 6, and he has shown himself to be a player with the requisite athleticism and skill-set to play the defensive midfielder role at the international level. Dillon Powers hasn’t been used by Klinsmann before, but can anyone who follows American soccer really doubt this player?  One area where American soccer has improved is the arrival of midfielders like Powers who have a higher baseline of skill than most of the American players before them. For this writer, Sebastian Lletget is too talented to leave off. Lletget has really stood out in the American player pool as a talented, technical, and creative attacking player that can really play. The LA Galaxy midfielder/forward is a true Number 10 that can play wide or centrally and combine with talented players like Dempsey. Lletget is a goal-scoring playmaker with good vision and creativity, and the U.S. really needs those qualities. Lletget also plays as a second striker. During the month of April Christian Pulisic has proven to be a real talent for Borussia Dortmund. This player is much more than hype, as the Bundesliga player has displayed individual skill, quickness, and creativity against strong European club competition.

 

Forwards

Second Strikers (2): Clint Dempsey, Ethan Finlay

Center Forwards (2): Juan Agudelo, Rubio Rubin

With Juan Agudelo and Rubio Rubin as the center forwards, World Soccer Source is picking the skill and dynamism of those two over the familiarity with seeing Jozy Altidore’s name always on the team sheet. Altidore is a capable Number 9, but Agudelo and Rubin bring more skill and activity to the head of the attack. Ethan Finlay is needed to play as a second striker or as a wing on either side. Finlay brings plenty of passing ability and speed to the attack, and he also knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. Clint Dempsey is still the undisputed best American player, and he’s needed to score and lead the attack.

 

Article Updated on April 29, 2016

The Top 20 American Soccer Players (April 2016)

The Top 20 American Soccer Players (April 2016)

In this publication’s opinion, Clint Dempsey has been the best American soccer player since 2006/2007. No offense to Landon Donovan, but Dempsey has a much stronger resume with a higher level of technical skill and mental toughness than Donovan had.

Nevertheless, ranking the best American soccer players involves figuring out who goes after the Texas gunslinger, Deuce Dempsey.

Here are the rankings:

1. Clint Dempsey – Forward – Seattle Sounders

2. Michael Bradley – Midfielder – Toronto FC

3. Fabian Johnson – Midfielder/Defender – Borussia Monchengladbach

4. Geoff Cameron – Defender/Midfielder – Stoke City

5. Benny Feilhaber – Midfielder – Sporting Kansas City

6. Jozy Altidore – Forward – Toronto FC

7. Juan Agudelo – Forward – New England Revolution

8. Darlington Nagbe – Midfielder – Portland Timbers

9. Lee Nguyen – Midfielder – New England Revolution

10. DeAndre Yedlin – Outside Back – Tottenham/Sunderland

11. Charlie Davies – Forward – New England Revolution

12. Brad Guzan – Goalkeeper – Aston Villa

13. John Brooks – Defender – Hertha Berlin

14. Rubio Rubin – Forward – Utrecht

15. Sebastian Lletget – Forward/Midfielder – LA Galaxy

16. Kelyn Rowe – Midfielder – New England Revolution

17.Dillon Powers – Midfielder – Colorado Rapids

18. Alejandro Bedoya – Midfielder – Nantes

19. Kellyn Acosta – Midfielder – FC Dallas

20. Fatai Alashe – Midfielder – San Jose Earthquakes