By: Colin Reese
World Soccer Source’s rankings for the Best American Footballers (February 2014) aren’t based on a scientifically equal weighing of talent, club form, and international form, but rather they are an attempt to rank the American footballers based on talent and/or form.
Ranking players are subjective, and many American soccer players don’t play in leagues where one can get a really accurate assessment of which players are the best against strong competition, which really shows how good players are compared to other players.
In other big soccer nations, players’ club form in really good leagues provides an indication of which players are the best because the level of competition provides a good indicator of skill and effectiveness.
Major League Soccer is getting better and better, but it’s still hard to see most of the best players playing there best because most MLS teams simply do not have a group of 11 starters who are performing at a level that is close to what is scene in the best leagues.
Therefore, when ranking American footballers, one has to factor in which players are held back by their teammates and which players abilities translate to high-level soccer. The other difficulty in ranking Americans is the continuing influx of better young players without much international experience or without much experience playing with really high quality teammates.
For this writer, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Michael Bradley are the best three American footballers, and after those three, ranking American players is very difficult and subjective.
Certain players like Benny Feilhaber have demonstrated in MLS and in many big international games that they are quality footballers, but there are several players like Benny Feilhaber that have not seen much playing time under Jürgen Klinsmann, which causes many observers to consider them not as good as other Klinsmann regulars.
Ultimately, soccer is a skill sport, and below is World Soccer Source’s rankings of the Best American Footballers (February 2014), which tries to be fair to players of all positions and different club situations:
1. Clint DEMPSEY (Seattle Sounders)
2. Landon DONOVAN (LA Galaxy)
3. Michael BRADLEY (Toronto FC)
4. Jozy ALTIDORE (Sunderland)
5. Benny FEILHABER (Sporting KC)
6. Geoff CAMERON (Stoke City)
7. Joe CORONA (Tijuana)
8. Tim HOWARD (Everton)
9. Juan AGUDELO (Utrecht)
10. Aron JÓHANNSSON (AZ Alkmaar)
11. Freddy ADU (No Club Team)
12. Benji JOYA (Chicago Fire)
13. Jermaine JONES (Besiktas)
14. Mix DISKERUD (Rosenborg)
15. Brad GUZAN (Aston Villa)
16. Fabian JOHNSON (Hoffenheim)
17. Terrence BOYD (Rapid Wien)
18. Eddie JOHNSON (DC United)
19. Michael OROZCO (Puebla)
20. DeAndre YEDLIN (Seattle Sounders)
21. Shane O’NEILL (Colorado Rapids)
22. Chris KLUTE (Colorado Rapids)
23. Andrew FARRELL (New England Revolution)
24. Eric LICHAJ (Nottingham Forest)
25. Jonathan SPECTOR (Birmingham City)
26. John Anthony BROOKS (Hertha Berlin)
27. Maurice EDU (Philadelphia Union)
28. Kofi SARKODIE (Houston Dynamo)
29. Gyasi ZARDES (LA Galaxy)
30. Luis GIL (Real Salt Lake)
31. Mario RODRIGUEZ (Borussia Mönchengladbach U-23)
32. Paul ARRIOLA (Tijuana)
33. Alonso HERNANDEZ (Monterrey)
34. Amobi OKUGO (Philadelphia Union)
35. José VILLARREAL (Cruz Azul)
36. Sebastian LLETGET (West Ham United)
37. Joe GYAU (Hoffenheim)
38. Gale AGBOSSOUMONDE (Toronto FC)
39. Brek SHEA (Stoke City/Barnesley)
40. Kellyn ACOSTA (FC Dallas)
Editor’s Note: Julian GREEN, born in the United States but raised in Germany, may decide to play for the United States.