The Best 50 American Soccer Players (June 2013)


Clint Dempsey will be the best American soccer player for years to come. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
Clint Dempsey will be the best American soccer player for years to come. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)


The Best 50 American Soccer Players (June 2013 Edition)


World Soccer Source contends that the list of players included in “The ASN 100” produced by the excellent website, American Soccer Now, displays an unrealistic estimation of the skill-level of many of the players included on their list in comparison to the types of international competition that the United States Men’s National Team faces.

Valuing Major League Soccer statistics over the touch, technique, movement off the ball, athleticism, vision, and fundamentals of players in Major League Soccer or elsewhere can only tell one so much.

Once the United States faces better opponents, players without the technical qualities seen more in better soccer nations will be thoroughly outmatched on the field

American Soccer Now won’t rank players based on their technical ability and their ability to play high-level soccer against strong competition, as is the case with American Soccer Now’s high ranking of Graham Zusi compared to the visibly-superior Joe Corona, who is not only more skilled, but who performs well consistently against better Latin American competition.

While all of the players included on American Soccer Now’s list should be applauded as solid professionals, the overall make-up of ASN’s list places a low premium on technical ability and ranks many of the United States’ best players way too low.

For example, Freddy Adu was ranked 73rd by ASN in last month’s list after being signed by one of the two major Salvador, Brazil clubs, Bahia, in the Brasileirão.

In short, The ASN Top 100 and the people responsible for making it support the use of less-skilled players who don’t put the United States in a position to beat first and second-tier national teams.





-Every player, coach, fan, writer, commentator, analyst, etc has a different idea of what “best” means in terms of ranking soccer players.

-Some people want a player’s club or international form at the moment the rankings are done to be the most important factor.

-Other people believe the league played in is the most important indicator of a player’s skill and form.

-And, still other people contend that skill is the most important factor, with the obvious requirement that the player has actually demonstrated skill against real competition.

-Still others try to balance both skill, the league played in, and current form when evaluating players.

-This list attempts to balance skill, current form, and the league played in.

-World Soccer Source advocates actually calling up certain players to the national team over certain players who are ranked higher on this list. For instance, Hercúlez Gómez is ranked higher than both Mario Rodriguez and José Villarreal, but World Soccer Source believes the four USMNT strikers on the roster should be: Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Mario Rodríguez, and José Villarreal.


Zinedine Zidane had this to say about how to determine what “best” really meant:




The Best 50 American Soccer Players (June 2013)


1. Clint DEMPSEY (Tottenham)

2. Michael BRADLEY (Roma)

3. Landon DONOVAN (LA Galaxy)

4. Tim HOWARD (Everton)

5. Benny FEILHABER (Sporting Kansas City)


6. Jermaine JONES (Schalke)

7. Geoff CAMERON (Stoke City)

8. Fabian JOHNSON (Hoffenheim)

9. Joe CORONA (Tijuana)

10. Freddy ADU (Bahia)


11. Steve CHERUNDOLO (Hannover)

12. Juan AGUDELO (New England Revolution)

13. Terrence BOYD (Rapid Wien)

14. Jozy ALTIDORE (AZ Alkmaar)

15. Benji JOYA (Santos Laguna)


16. Hérculez GÓMEZ (Santos Laguna)

17. Brad GUZAN (Aston Villa)

18. Jonathan SPECTOR (Birmingham City)

19. Mix DISKERUD (Rosenborg)

20. Brek SHEA (Stoke City)


21.  Eric LICHAJ (Contract not renewed by Aston Villa)

22. Omar GONZALEZ (LA Galaxy)

23. Eddie JOHNSON (Seattle Sounders)

24. DeAndre YEDLIN (Seattle Sounders)

25. Edgar CASTILLO (Tijuana)


26. Perry KITCHEN (DC United)

27. Joe GYAU (St. Pauli on loan from Hoffenheim) 

28. Mario RODRIGUEZ (FC Kaiserslautern)

29. José VILLARREAL (LA Galaxy)

30. Stuart HOLDEN (Bolton)


31. Tony TAYLOR (Released by Estoril Praia)

32. Gale AGBOSSOUMONDE (Toronto FC)

33. Chris KLUTE (Colorado Rapids)

34. Teal BUNBURY (Sporting KC)

35. Kenny COOPER (FC Dallas)


36. Sacha KLJESTAN (Anderlecht)

37. George JOHN (FC Dallas) 

38. Andrew FARRELL (New England Revolution)

39. Alonso HERNANDEZ (Monterrey)

40. Daniel CUEVAS (Santos Laguna)


41. Shane O’NEILL (Colorado Rapids)

42. Kofi SARKODIE (Houston Dynamo)

43. Lee NGUYEN (New England Revolution)

44. Zach LOYD (FC Dallas)

45. Jeremy HALL (Toronto FC)


46. Lamar NEAGLE (Seattle Sounders)

 47. Caleb STANKO (Freiburg)

48. London WOODBERRY (FC Dallas)

49. Junior FLORES (Contracted by Borussia Dortmund)

50. Corey BAIRD 

Real Change for Klinsmann’s USMNT


Freddy Adu (Source: Esporte Clube Bahia)
Freddy Adu (Source: Esporte Clube Bahia)


Real Change:

After seeing Jürgen Klinsmann add Brad Evans and Corey Ashe (both solid professionals) to the United States Men’s National Team roster, it would appear that there is something terribly wrong with how Jürgen Klinsmann and his assistants are selecting players for national team duty because there are certainly better players than Evans and Ashe available to the USMNT, not to mention the less than stellar roster selected in general.

At this point, Jürgen Klinsmann should poach all of the best players off the Under-20 World Cup roster and the U-23 Olympic qualifying roster and put them on the full United States Men’s National Team.

This would be real change.

Many of the USMNT regulars are excellent international-caliber players who the United States needs, but these top players like Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Geoff Cameron are surrounded by too many players who are well below their skill level.

The United States needs to surround many of its best regular starters with new or younger players, many of whom Klinsmann keeps with the U-23 and U-20 squads.

Americans want to see the United States play better and win, and Americans want the national team to be considered skilled by other countries.

Fielding players who can improve the level of the United States’ play is fairly easy to do, but there’s no guarantee that the changes will instantly or consistently produce victories.

This is how the United States can implement some meaningful changes, and every proposal is followed by a more conservative and already proven option:

-Start DeAndre Yedlin at right back because his combination of technical skill, speed, attacking qualities, and defensive qualities makes him a modern outside back. Yedlin will make mistakes. Accept it. Timothy Chandler makes mistakes too. At least play Jonathan Spector or Eric Lichaj at right back if Timothy Chandler and Steve Cherundolo are unavailable.

-Start Gale Agbossoumonde at center back with Geoff Cameron. Agbossoumonde will make mistakes. Cameron made a mistake in the World Cup qualifier against Honduras, but he’s still a talented and athletic center back and the best American center back. If the USMNT’s coaching staff isn’t ready to use Agbossoumonde, they should at least make sure that both Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron are starting as the center backs instead of using Gonzalez and Matt Besler.

-Start Michael Bradley and Benji Joya as a line of two central midfielders with Joya having total freedom to go wherever he wants on the field. If this option is too bold for the USMNT, then start Stuart Holden next to Michael Bradley.

-Start Joe Corona, Freddy Adu, and Clint Dempsey as a line of three attacking midfielders in front of Michael Bradley and Benji Joya (with the understanding that Joya is not playing as a defensive midfielder). If the USMNT thinks Freddy Adu is still adjusting to playing in Brazil, then certainly a proven player like Benny Feilhaber deserves a start. Klinsmann should at least be willing to start him, especially since Bradley, four defenders, and a goalkeeper will be behind him.

-Start Juan Agudelo at striker now despite Jozy Altidore’s improved technical skill and record-breaking goal total for an American playing in Europe because Juan Agudelo is better and more aggressive than Jozy Altidore. Juan Agudelo will create more scoring chances and score more goals, and Agudelo will draw defenders toward him, which will free up space for other American players to move into. If the USMNT coaching staff thinks Altidore’s form dictates that he starts, then they should make sure to put creative midfielders behind him in the system outlined above.

-In addition to this starting line-up, the United States needs to fill the remaining roster spots with capable players who have the skill and athleticism to play international soccer now despite the elements in the American soccer community who want to see more experience before letting the newer players play.

-Andrew Farrell and Shane O’Neill should be the two back up center backs, or, at the very least; Omar Gonzalez and George John should be the back up center backs if the U.S. starts Agbossoumonde with Cameron.

-Kofi Sarkodie and Chris Klute should be the back-up right and left backs, respectively. If not, then Jonathan Spector and Eric Lichaj should be the back up outside backs, if Yedlin and Fabian Johnson are starting.

-Jermaine Jones and Perry Kitchen should be the additional defensive midfielders on the roster.

-The remaining midfield roster spot should be occupied by Benny Feilhaber.

-Finally, the other three striker spots on the roster should be given to Mario Rodriguez, Terrence Boyd, and José Villarreal.

Note: All of the changes proposed above by and large were followed by “safer” and more conservative options for the USMNT. Even if the bolder options are just that, too bold, then the proven USMNT internationals should be used as opposed to Klinsmann makeshift rosters and starting line-ups.

Embrace and accept risks and know that the U.S. has other quality player options besides those proposed above:

Americans and non-Americans alike can debate about which players should be on the roster, and many of the players above could be replaced by other players who are also worthy of roster spots. The United States’ talent pool now exceeds the amount of roster spots available.

For instance, Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, Omar Gonzalez, George John, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez, Jonathan Spector, Steve Cherundolo, Brek Shea, Mix Diskerud, Joe Gyau, and Caleb Stanko all deserve roster spots.

Even players like Junior Flores and Corey Baird should be players the USMNT’s coaching staff is considering to call into a full national team camp just for the purpose of seeing how far along they are in their development.

Some coach of the United States is going to have to be willing to make the types of changes and bold decisions outlined in the previous section and let the United States play the world’s best national teams straight up.

Merely surviving against top national teams isn’t progress, and nobody around the world cares if the United States runs a lot and just plays good team defense.

Other national team coaches will be impressed with the teamwork and heart, but these same coaches will still see the U.S. is missing the elements to consistently win against top national teams.

Bold decisions aren’t new to the USMNT. Bruce Arena started 20 year olds in the 2002 World Cup.

The United States might lose when it plays new or younger players, but the United States has been barely tying teams or winning under Klinsmann.

With changes, at least the United States will play better and be in the position to win.

People will respect a United States Men’s National Team like the one proposed above, and a team like the one proposed above can win.

The United States already doesn’t beat the world’s best national teams when the other teams are fielding their full strength national teams because Clint Dempsey doesn’t have enough attacking support, and Michael Bradley doesn’t have enough support in the midfield to establish good passing combination play with his teammates.

Tim Howard, Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey deserve to have technically-skilled and athletic teammates, even if the new additions are inexperienced in international soccer.

Using a squad like the one proposed above is no different than Bruce Arena starting Landon Donovan against Portugal in the 2002 World Cup, and it’s no different than Bruce Arena starting Clint Dempsey against Italy in the 2006 World Cup because Dempsey had never faced competition like Italy before.

Bruce Arena didn’t start Clint Dempsey in the first game of the 2006 World Cup against the Czech Republic, and the United States was thoroughly dominated.

Players will make mistakes, and there’s no way for a club or national soccer team to eliminate the possibility of mistakes being made by its players, even if world-class and experienced players are used.

Elite and world-class players make mistakes too, some times, big mistakes.

Proposed 23-Man USMNT Roster: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Luis Robles; Geoff Cameron, Gale Agbossoumonde, Andrew Farrell, Shane O’Neill; DeAndre Yedlin, Kofi Sarkodie, Fabian Johnson, Chris Klute; Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Perry Kitchen; Clint Dempsey, Joe Corona, Benji Joya, Benny Feilhaber, Freddy Adu; Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Mario Rodríguez, José Villarreal.


Proposed Starting XI: Tim Howard; DeAndre Yedlin, Gale Agbossoumonde, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson; Michael Bradley, Benji Joya; Joe Corona, Freddy Adu, Clint Dempsey; Juan Agudelo.


Is Jürgen Klinsmann a coaching improvement for the USMNT?



Jürgen Klinsmann. © Koichi Kamoshida / Getty Images
Jürgen Klinsmann. © Koichi Kamoshida / Getty Images


Is Jürgen Klinsmann a coaching improvement for the United States Men’s National Team?


Despite being a legendary German striker and a certified soccer great, the answer to that question is, “No.”

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The Reality of Joe Corona


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Joe Corona. Photo: Club Tijuana
Joe Corona. (Photo: Club Tijuana)


Jürgen Klinsmann has no excuse for keeping Joe Corona as a benchwarmer for the United States Men’s National Team in World Cup qualifiers.


There is no excuse: not his age, not his skill level, not his club form, not the league he plays in, not the position he plays, not his work rate, and not his playing style.


Joe Corona satisfies any criteria that Klinsmann chooses to look at.

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Major Omissions from the May/June USMNT Roster


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The United States cannot afford to leave players of Juan Agudelo's ability off their roster. © Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images
The United States cannot afford to leave players of Juan Agudelo’s ability off its roster. © Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images


Jürgen Klinsmann omitted a shocking amount of proven and talented players from the May/June United States Men’s National Team roster. Whether it was outside backs, center backs, or attacking players, Klinsmann’s newest roster ignores major weaknesses with the USMNT.

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Obvious Problems with the May/June USMNT Roster


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Time for Jürgen Klinsmann to return to formula that works. © Martin Meissner / AP Photo/
Time for Jürgen Klinsmann to return to a formula that works. © Martin Meissner / AP Photo/


The United States Men’s National Team roster selected to participate in two friendlies (Belgium and Germany) and three World Cup qualifying games (Jamaica, Panama, Honduras) contains several solid, international-caliber selections, but the roster also fails to correct weaknesses in the balance and technical ability of previous rosters.

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Does anyone know what Jürgen Klinsmann is doing?


Jürgen Klinsmann (left) has been making illogical tactical decisions as the coach of the USMNT. © Associated Press
Jürgen Klinsmann (left) has been making illogical tactical decisions as the coach of the USMNT. (Photo: AP)



Does anyone know what Jürgen Klinsmann is doing?

Does Jürgen Klinsmann know what he is doing?

Everyone has to play with the hand they were dealt, but Jürgen Klinsmann is having trouble fielding a proactive United States Men’s National Team in a country with over 300 million people.

Certainly, the very best soccer players on the planet are from countries other than the United States of America, but Klinsmann isn’t exactly short on quality player options.

Jürgen Klinsmann’s principal argument is two-fold: 1.) people from other countries become better at soccer because of their soccer environment; and 2.) American soccer players need to be indoctrinated into his system of playing one-to-two touch soccer.

One flaw with this argument (among other flaws) is that technically-skilled and athletic players like Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley were born and raised in the United States, and there are lots of Americans who are fairly close to their playing ability.

This contention that Klinsmann needs to slowly get his group of players to slowly embrace a new style is totally illogical because one-to-two touch soccer is not new to American soccer players, so Klinsmann’s job is to merely select the players who can play that way.

A starting line-up has 11 players, and without any deep thought, it’s easy to think up a skilled starting XI that can play one-to-two touch soccer: Tim Howard, Steve Cherundolo, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, Joe Corona, Benny Feilhaber, Clint Dempsey, Juan Agudelo, and Jozy Altidore.

That starting line-up doesn’t even include Landon Donovan and many other skilled players, so what is Klinsmann doing?

The United States has the players that Klinsmann needs to start having the United States playing an improved brand of soccer, so why is Klinsmann avoiding using so many obvious line-ups?

If Klinsmann starts Tim Howard, one of several right backs, Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore, then he still has two open roster spots to insert some creative attacking midfielders who can fix the element that’s missing from the line-up listed above: possession in the midfield and shots on goal.

Klinsmann can insert Joe Corona and Benny Feilhaber into the starting line-up or he can insert one of them with another striker to partner with Altidore. Additionally, Klinsmann can use Landon Donovan and Freddy Adu.

So, what is Jürgen Klinsmann doing as coach of the United States Men’s National Team?

Why is he watching the same tactical mistakes play out on the field game after game?

Why won’t Klinsmann insert proven creative players into his line-ups, and why won’t he use many of the very talented and athletic new and/or younger players?

The United States Men’s National Team clearly needs either a new national team coach, or it needs some assistant coaches who can improve Jürgen Klinsmann’s ability to scout talent and make rosters and line-ups.


Updated USMNT 2013 Gold Cup Roster Proposal


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Joe Corona
Joe Corona


Jürgen Klinsmann stated that the American players called up to the roster to face Belgium and Germany would likely be the same players who would appear on the Gold Cup roster. This plan seems to be flawed because the performance of players against Belgium and Germany should affect who Klinsmann calls up to the United States Men’s National Team for the 2013 Gold Cup.

In light of the performances of certain players in Major League Soccer and other leagues and the fact that Klinsmann announced that Stuart Holden would be on the Gold Cup roster, World Soccer Source proposes the following 23 players for the United States’ Gold Cup roster:

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Which USMNT regulars are vital, which aren’t?


Benny Feilhaber. (Photo: Reuters)
Benny Feilhaber. (Photo: Reuters)


Player selection is everything for a national team coach. The players a national team calls up is the single most important talking point for evaluating how a national team coach is doing, and the second most important thing is which players are started.

There are only a handful of players who Jürgen Klinsmann has been regularly calling up to the United States Men’s National Team who are vital players.

Only seven players who Klinsmann regularly calls up are vital players for the USMNT, and two of them are goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey.

There is lots of room for improvement within the Starting XI, while still keeping the international-caliber players who form the backbone of the squad.

The USMNT Starting XI is solid at goalkeeper (Tim Howard), at left back (Fabian Johnson), at the center back spots (Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron), at the defensive midfielder position (Michael Bradley), and at one attacking midfielder position (Clint Dempsey).

Therefore, many of Klinsmann’s Starting XI selections are correct, but it’s the other starters and the rest of the roster that need changing.

On the other hand, many of Klinsmann’s roster selections aren’t better than other options available to Klinsmann, and still others are international-caliber players who are on the roster but go unused.

In the defense, the USMNT benefits from players like Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, and Fabian Johnson, but why does the USMNT need Justin Morrow, Matt Besler, Tony Beltran, DaMarcus Beasley (listed as a midfielder), and Clarence Goodson?

That’s five defenders out of eight whose technical-ability or ability to keep up with international attackers is a big question mark.

Klinsmann made a bold decision when he started Gonzalez against Honduras, and now he needs to make another one and put Gale Agbossoumonde on the roster as one of the USMNT’s center back options.

In the midfield, why do players like Kyle Beckerman, Sacha Kljestan, Danny Williams, José Torres, and Brad Davis receive call-ups when the end result is always the same: poor passing and no scoring chances created? To be fair to Kljestan, he doesn’t even get the chance to play when Klinsmann calls him up.

Why do Beckerman, Kljestan, Williams, Torres, and Davis not deserve call-ups?

Beckerman doesn’t have the requisite quickness to display his technical-ability (which is sound) in faster international games.

Kljestan is a fundmentally-sound professional who plays well in Europe, but his technical ability is way below Joe Corona, Benny Feilhaber, and Freddy Adu. Feilhaber has a history of outperforming Kljestan in international play.

Williams has never demonstrated he has the ability to play anywhere close to Michael Bradley’s or Jermaine Jones’ ability on the international level.

Torres has featured for the United States many times without demonstrating an ability to improve the passing ability of the American midfield, nor has he really produced any final balls.

Torres is also entirely one-footed, and this is the problem with Davis as well. When compared to Feilhaber, Torres and Davis are repeatedly thoroughly outplayed by Feilhaber.

Joe Corona has the ability to improve the United States, but Klinsmann simply refuses to play him. No one plays well against major São Paulo clubs in the Copa Libertadores as an attacking midfielder if he doesn’t have excellent technical ability.

As the public scrutiny and pressure builds, Klinsmann will have to justify how his roster selections and his starting line-up selections are producing the quality of soccer needed to not only qualify for the World Cup but just to improve the play of the United States.

The United States needs a shake-up in the midfield more so than at striker because Jozy Altidore, Herculez Gomez, Terrence Boyd, and Eddie Johnson are all international-caliber strikers. Juan Agudelo’s skill, aggressive and creative style of play, and his athleticism warrant a roster spot, but the primary problem is the connection between the midfield and the attack.

Jürgen Klinsmann would be wise to keep much of the backbone of his starting line-ups, but he should insert some better players (Joe Corona and Benny Feilhaber) to play with that backbone. He should also fill the rest of the roster with international-caliber players who can be used as substitutes or even started, if they showed that they could improve the United States’ play.


A 23-Man USMNT Roster For Proactive Soccer


It’s time for Jürgen Klinsmann to roll up the yoga mats and lead from the front.

Klinsmann has never even attempted to field line-ups to play the type of proactive soccer he promised.

Tab Ramos now seems more like the right person to coach the United States Men’s National Team.

The reason for hiring Klinsmann was to hire a coach who would be more willing to call up and play the types of players who could raise the quality of the United States Men’s National Team’s play. Instead, the United States got a more defensive coach than Bob Bradley.

Putting players on the field who can play at Clint Dempsey’s, Michael Bradley’s, Geoff Cameron’s, and Benny Feilhaber’s level will require change, lots of change.

The players listed above aren’t satisfied with trying to merely put in a good showing against top national teams; they want to quickly move the ball around the field and win.

How far are Jürgen Klinsmann and his staff willing to go to use players who can play one-to-two touch soccer with the world’s best?

Klinsmann and company will have to call up a new type of USMNT roster and actually use the players with all the tools and gifts to improve the USMNT, but many of them are considered “raw,” “inexperienced,” “unproven,” and “too young” for many Americans.

The coaching staff of the United States Men’s National Team needs to make changes and call up the following players for international play:

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