MLS Improving from Hacking to Skill Soccer

MLS Is Improving from Hacking to Skill Soccer

The level of play in Major League Soccer has improved, but the level still falls short of the top European and Latin American soccer leagues. The major difference, which stands out immediately, is that the control and smoothness of the passing is not at the same high level as those other leagues. It’s not the speed of the passing per se that makes the passing smoother because the English Premier League has almost out of control and overly fast passing where many of the teams look like there are rushing their passing and putting too much power behind their passes. But, anyone watching the passing in La Liga, the Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, etc can see that each player normally takes a maximum of two touches when the ball is passed to them: one touch to control the pass and one touch to play the ball to a teammate.

MLS is still improving in this regard. MLS games feature more balls played in the air, more header sequences, and more instances of the ball bouncing around in a chaotic fashion. You could say that the passing and ball control in MLS needs to settle down without transforming into slow, listless, and boring play. By all accounts MLS continues to improve and the overall skill of the players both American and non-American continues to improve, but it is still true that too many players who base their play on physicality over technical skill and athleticism.

The next area where MLS needs to improve is curbing the roughness and dirty, violent play. There’s a difference between some pushing and taking out people’s legs from behind. There’s also a feeling that too many coaches, players, and media members believe that rough tackles are a part of the game. Nobody said slide tackles or shielding the ball don’t belong in soccer, but can’t we draw the line and slide tackling players’ legs from out from behind them without getting the ball. Can’t MLS refs give more cards for stomping player’s ankles, feet, and legs.

MLS fans can now enjoy more technical and creative players who can beat defenders with individual skill and quickly combine with teammates, and while this is great, too many talentless hackers and dirty players are uglying up MLS games with dangerous play that they feel is part of the game. The reality for these players is that you won’t see elite enforcers around the world playing quite as dirty as they do. Of course, any soccer fan can list certain elite players who are dirty hackers, but by and large, this type of thuggery is not allowed by other elite players who keep these hackers in check.

MLS has definitely seen a bump in attractive and creative play, and an excellent example of this is Jozy Altidore, who has been showcasing a new dimension of playmaking and passing to his game. Altidore is fairly or unfairly seen as a player whose play is based on size and strength, but his transformation to a smoother, more refined player signals a change to more skillful play in MLS, that is separate from the continued influx of technical players from outside of the United States.



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.

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?


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.


(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.


(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.

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.


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.



Sebastian Lletget Is USMNT Material



The United States Men’s National Team needs Sebastian Lletget. It’s as simple as that.

After only a handful of games in MLS, Lletget looks like a National Team player already, and he isn’t coming onto the scene out of nowhere.

Lack of creative attacking play and a lack of link-up play between the midfield and the attack are major problems for the United States, and Lletget fixes both of these problems.

The fact that Lletget is also fast and quick with a nose for goal only makes him more of a must-have for the National Team.

The attacking midfielder has displayed an ability to play like a forward and a center midfielder at the same time, and this makes him more desirable to a National Team that needs skilled players that can play a really fluid modern style of play where the line between midfielders and forwards blurs.

In today’s game, only the center forward and defensive midfielder have fixed positions in the Front Six. The other four players must be able to high press, recover possession, keep possession, and break forward on the counter.

The United States really doesn’t use any attacking midfielders, and it shows. The U.S. National Team will continue to be a team lacking in real skill and creativity until more players like Lletget are used.

The LA Galaxy attacking midfielder has been quick to demonstrate how he can set-up goals, score goals, and win back possession, and he’s also athletic with a good engine.

The United States has a bad track record of not letting creative attacking midfielders play, and this holds them back from the success that the best national teams in the world have.

It’s imperative to have a high level of collective skill from the entire squad, but to close the gap with better teams, the special players that create goals or score them are a must.

The United States won’t be a world soccer power until these types of players are allowed to play.

There’s a lot of evidence that the U.S. is now producing better players at every position, but the National Team needs to be more open to the types of risk and change that takes a gamble on letting less experienced but more talented players start in important games.

Lletget should be one of the first players that is quickly incorporated into the National Team as soon as possible, and he should be joined by Juan Agudelo and Rubio Rubin who are surprisingly still fringe players for a national team that could really benefit from their inclusion.

Simply making it a point to make Lletget, Agudelo, and Rubin key figures on the squad is something Klinsmann should do.

After the Gold Cup, the American midfield needs to be comprised of Michael Bradley and Lletget plus a defensive midfielder to anchor the midfield.

Dillon Powers with Bradley and Lletget is another option where Bradley has more of a Javier Mascherano role in the midfield.

While Lletget was hard to call up to the Gold Cup roster when even Benny Feilhaber and Lee Nguyen were left off, there’s no good reason to make Lletget wait to join the National Team once the Gold Cup is over.



Hope For the Future of American Soccer


José Villarreal (Photo: LA Galaxy)
José Villarreal (Photo: LA Galaxy)





There is much for which to be hopeful for the future of American soccer and the United States Men’s National Team. Plenty of talent is coming through the pipeline.


The United States has technical and athletic players that are young and youngish at virtually every position.


In goal, the USA has William Yarbrough, Clint Irwin, Cody Cropper, and Zack Steffen.


In defense, the USA has DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks, Andrew Farrell, Greg Garza, Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, and Christian Dean.


In the midfield, the Stars and Stripes have the likes of Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Dillon Powers, José Villarreal, Kellyn Acosta, Benji Joya, Emerson Hyndman, Luis Gil, and Paul Arriola.


In the attack, the United States has Juan Agudelo, Gyasi Zardes, Bradford Jamieson IV, Jordan Allen, Rubio Rubin, Mario Rodriguez, Alonso Hernandez, Junior Flores, and Romain Gall.


These young players coupled with others that weren’t listed along with the players in the 25-32 year old range give the USMNT a deep pool of talent where many need experience, playing time, and seasoning.


But, one thing is for sure, and that is that the skilled and proven experienced players can be started with a few of the younger players to give them experience, seasoning, and chemistry with the senior squad.


Of all of the younger players in the pool, with the exception of players like Agudelo, Yedlin, Alvarado, and Brooks who have proven themselves with the National Team, Bradford Jamieson IV really stands out as the most exciting national team prospect of the group.


Jamieson has an excellent first touch, advanced technical ability, speed, fearlessness, size, vision, excellent passing ability, and lots and lots of speed and quickness. Jamieson also has the thing that American soccer has been looking for: a player that can take defenders off the dribble and score solo goals from the run of play. Jamieson will attack defenders directly and continue to do so even when defenders take possession from him on his previous dribbling attempts.


If the United States wants to use a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, or 4-3-3 formation, there is room for Jamieson to get some real minutes with the National Team.


There are many conflicting views of who should start for the United States, but if we look at a 4-2-3-1 formation with the experienced and proven players, then there is room to put Jamieson in to play the first half or the last 20-30 minutes of the game.


What is a proven USA XI in a 4-2-3-1?


I’d argue that Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Ventura Alvarado, John Brooks, Greg Garza, Geoff Cameron, Michael Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya/Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore is a non-controversial and strong starting line-up.


If we look at that line-up, what does it hurt to start Juan Agudelo over Altidore and Jamieson over Bedoya and Corona just to give him experience and the squad an explosive and quality attacker?


Furthermore, how could it hurt to give Dillon Powers minutes in the midfield and to give Andrew Farrell minutes at center back?


Surely, these players are good enough to see minutes in friendlies or in the first round of the Gold Cup against truly weak opponents.


The most important thing is that MLS appears to be producing more and more technical and athletic defenders, midfielders, and forwards.


Despite being produced here, these players are demonstrating a level of technical ability along the lines of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley.


Once again, of all of these players, Jamieson is by far the most polished and exciting of these young players, and Jamieson is the type of creative and skilled attacking player that the United States has been waiting for more of since the appearance of Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.


Jamieson’s technical ability, speed, and 1v1 skills are truly special by any standard. The fact that an 18-year-old American player that was born and raised in the United States is displaying these skills is a reason for hope for the undeniable rise of American soccer.


Let us not forget all of the other promising young players that are defenders, midfielders, and forwards. It will be interesting to see which players begin to stand out more and more from the others.


Looking toward the Gold Cup, perhaps Powers, Farrell, and Jamieson are the most deserving of surprising roster inclusions for that tournament. With proven players largely already filling up the 23-man Gold Cup roster, there is room for Farrell, Powers, and Jamieson on this summer’s roster.


The continued improvement of American soccer will depend on risk. The players starting for the National Team should be consistent performers at the club level or at least proven performers at the club or international level, but the United States needs to start incorporating its younger players that display the most skill.



Dillon Powers For USMNT


Dillon Powers, Colorado Rapids midfielder. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Dillon Powers, Colorado Rapids midfielder. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)


Dillon Powers embodies the type of two-way midfielder that Jürgen Klinsmann has been calling for.

Klinsmann preaches proactive soccer where his midfielders recover possession and keep possession, and this is exactly what Powers does.

Powers attacks and defends with a high work rate, and he has a level of technical ability and vision that the National Team needs more of.

Amongst American footballers, only Benji Joya, who is younger and looking to improve his club situation, plays like Powers.

Powers’ facility at playing centrally or wide or in more defensive or more attacking roles makes him a player that can be useful to the National Team precisely because of this ability to play where he’s needed, in addition to the qualities that he brings to the squad.

With Michael Bradley playing best as a defensive midfielder or as a central midfielder of the box-to-box variety, Powers could partner with Bradley to play either role or Powers could play a more attacking midfielder role as he does with Colorado.

He can be deployed centrally or out wide in the line of three attacking midfielders, and he even plays as a second striker. Unlike some other MLS midfielders that Klinsmann has used, Powers has a more complete skill-set that doesn’t limit him to only hitting crosses.

The goal for American soccer is to have more players that can play with skill and speed at the international level against top national teams, and someone like Powers is simply too talented and too qualified to be routinely ignored from even consideration by Klinsmann and his coaching staff.

Given Powers skill-set and consistent performances at the club level, United States Men’s National Team coaches in the past would have used Powers one to two years ago with the national team, but Klinsmann’s reasons for selecting or not selecting players to represent the USA have never really been clear.

Anyone familiar with MLS would recognize Powers as not only a complete midfielder, but also one who has stood out in the league against players with much more experience than him.

On more elite national teams, there might be multiple players of Powers level, but given the problems the United States has had keeping possession and displaying a high level of technical skill, it’s hard to justify keeping him off the National Team.

Powers stands out for how impactful and technical he is all over the field both in the recovering of the ball and in the attack. The Rapids midfielder is all over the field positively impacting the game, and he’s scored some impressive goals that display his skill and willingness to play aggressively.

He’s too good to leave off the National Team.

Klinsmann’s snubbing of so many qualified MLS players like Powers has to be something of a running joke with American players and coaches in MLS.

MLS Players Worthy of USMNT Call-Up


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





This isn’t a comprehensive list of MLS players that are worthy of a United States Men’s National Team call-up, but it is a list of some of the key names that World Soccer Source felt deserved special recognition.


Any player whose name was forgotten or accidentally overlooked isn’t necessarily not rated highly by World Soccer Source.


MLS and American soccer now have more quality players of various positions than there are room for on the national team.


Some players who were recently used by Jürgen Klinsmann aren’t discussed in this article.


Below are the names of MLS players that World Soccer Source chose to highlight for USMNT recognition:


Juan Agudelo, Forward, New England Revolution


The most talented and creative of all the American strikers. Jürgen Klinsmann already rates and has used Juan Agudelo, but he has been out of the national team picture the last year because of a state of club limbo that has now been resolved. Agudelo is more technical, more creative, and more impactful that Jozy Altidore, whose game has improved tremendously the past 3-4 years. Despite Altidore’s underrated technical ability, Altidore can’t do the things that Agudelo can.


Benny Feilhaber, Midfielder, Sporting Kansas City

The attacking midfielder and now also central midfielder is the best playmaker in the American player pool. He has the most proven skill and experience amongst American Number 10’s. Feilhaber has always displayed smooth technical ability on the international level against elite opponents.


Dillon Powers, Midfielder, Colorado Rapids


This American midfielder is a complete midfielder that brings loads of skill, running, defending, and versatility. He’s technical and athletic, and he can play any position in the midfield, in addition to excelling as a withdrawn striker. He’s a playmaker with the work rate of a two-way center midfielder.


Maurice Edu, Midfielder/Defender, Philadelphia Union


The United States isn’t good enough to not need an experienced and proven midfielder and defender like Maurice Edu. His technical ability, defending, work rate, and athleticism are proven at the European and international level. A useful player for the national team.


Kelyn Rowe, Midfielder/Forward, New England Revolution


Kelyn Rowe is an attacking midfielder or forward that can play wide or centrally, and his two-footed skill, speed, and creativity are all qualities the national team needs. Rowe is a more talented and faster player than Graham Zusi, whom Klinsmann has used a lot during his tenure. Rowe like Powers is the type of skillful player the USA cannot afford to snub.


José Villarreal, Midfielder/Forward, LA Galaxy


José Villarreal is an exciting attacking player blessed with quickness, 1v1 skill, excellent passing, and a nose for goal. Slippery and creative, this player has a level of toughness and fighting spirit that goes underrated. One of the very best young American players.


Andrew Farrell, Defender, New England Revolution


Andrew Farrell has looked good in his natural position of center back because of his combination of skill, speed, defensive prowess and fundamentals, and impressive athleticism. The goal for USMNT center backs is to have the speed and defensive ability to defend fast and talented attackers plus the ability to calmly play the ball out of the back or calmly keep possession in the U.S.’ defensive third. Farrell checks all of the boxes for an international center back.


Shane O’Neill, Defender/Midfielder, Colorado Rapids


Shane O’Neill isn’t as athletically impressive as Farrell, but O’Neill is fast, quick, tall, and strong. O’Neill has good defensive instincts and fundamentals, and he’s excellent on the ball. He’s another center back the USMNT could really use.


Kofi Sarkodie, Defender, Houston Dynamo


For a national team that needs another modern right back that both defends and attacks like Yedlin, Sarkodie is likely the best in this regard in MLS. Sarkodie is hard to get past, and his speed and skill are a threat down the sideline in the attack. Sarkodie would seem like an obvious choice as a right back to test out with the national team as his defending is arguably better than Yedlin’s.


Charlie Davies, Forward, New England Revolution


Charlie Davies proved his effectiveness and partnership with Jozy Altidore years ago. Now fully-recovered, Davies has had several strong years in a row in MLS. The speed of Davies is a huge threat in the attack, and his overall skill-level and style of play are proven.


Clint Irwin, Goalkeeper, Colorado Rapids


The USMNT has been testing out Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid quite a lot, but Clint Irwin is a stand-out MLS goalkeeper that is positionally-sound and a great shot stopper. Irwin makes impressive saves, and he doesn’t have any clear weakness in regards to his goalkeeping fundamentals.