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Top 10 American Soccer Players

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US Soccer Fans

USA
Image by Braveheartsports on Flickr

Since hosting the men’s World Cup in 1994, American influence on world soccer has grown immeasurably. A dominant women’s team and a resurgent men’s team, combined with growing domestic leagues has meant that US players are respected throughout the world. But who are the best US players of all time?

Of course there is no definitive answer to that, but it’s an interesting debate to have. How can you compare male and female players? How can you compare Goalkeepers with Forwards? How can you compare players from different generations?

You can’t of course, and it starts arguments, but that’s what makes it so much fun. You have to take into account not only their performances for the national side, but also what they have done at club level. Is scoring 20 goals in 30 games in the MLS better than scoring 15 goals in 40 games in the Bundesliga? Does spending 3 months on loan at Everton in the Premier League give you extra credit? What is the level of the MLS vs European leagues? What is the level of women’s soccer v men’s?

There’s quite a few honourable mentions – people who made the long-list but not the shortlist. From the women’s game: Brandi Chastain, Hope Solo and Julie Foudy could all have made it in. With the men: Earnie Stewart, Tim Howard, Tab Ramos, Alexi Lalas, Joe-Max Moore, Paul Caligiuri could all have made arguments for featuring.

As always, please feel free to tell me what you think and why I’m right or wrong. Twitter: @chiefhairyman #rantsoccer

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Kristine Lilly (in blue)

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Image by Chicagoredstars on Flickr

Kristine Lilly is the most capped womens footballer of all time. She has earned an incredible 352 caps for the US Womens Team, including 62 appearances in a row and a total of 130 goals. She simply has to feature

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Kasey Keller in action

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Image by tbirdhockeyfan on Flickr

Despite very strong competition, Keller amassed over 100 caps in goal for the US. He has also played in La Liga in Spain, the Bundesliga in Germany and for 4 different English Premier League sides

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Michelle Akers

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Image by JDrezner on Flickr

Many people argue that Akers is the best US womens player ever. Certainly a tally of 105 goals from 153 appearances and an Olympic Gold medal lend weight to that.

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Eric Wynalda

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Image by Murphman61 on Flickr

Voted the "US player of the 90's", Wynalda gained over 100 caps and scored over 30 goals for his national side, featuring in 3 world cups. His club career saw him turn out for 7 MLS sides and clubs in Germany and Mexico.

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Brian McBride

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Image by Rakanb on Flickr

McBride scored 30 goals in his 96 appearances for the USMNT. He spent over 5 years in the EPL, becoming a fan favourite and captain at Fulham FC

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Clint Dempsey

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Image by Joe Miles on Flickr

Still only 29, Dempsey has played over 90 games the US and is not far off becoming the record goalscorer for his country. He played for Fulham in the EPL for 5 years - becoming their top Premier League goalscorer of all time and securing a big-money more to Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2012.

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Landon Donovan

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Image by Tbirdshockeyfan on Flickr

A legend for his country - Donovan is the USMNT record goalscorer with a haul of 49 goals in 144 appearances. though he has mostly remained loyal to the MLS, he has also been a player in demand on loan in the Premier League and the Bundesliga. Even though he is now 30, he would still be a popular target should he decide to move on from LA Galaxy.

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Mia Hamm

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Image by Santa Clara Youth Soccer on Flickr

Mia Hamm is a legend in Womens Soccer. Arguably the best known womens player in the world, Hamm turned out 275 times for the US, scoring an incredible 158 goals. In her international career she won two Olympic gold medals and one World Cup. She and Michelle Akers are the only Americans to feature in FIFA's "125 Greatest Living Players".

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Claudio Reyna

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Image by MLSunderground on Flickr

Claudio Reyna played 111 times for the US. It would have been a lot more were it not for injuries. He also had the honour of captaining the national side at the 2006 World Cup, and featuring at 2 other tournaments.

What sets Reyna apart is the quality of the club sides he played for: Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Rangers (when they were good), Sunderland and Manchester City. He has played in both the Champions League and UEFA Cup/Europa League.

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Brad Friedel - US #1

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Image by SBOS2 on Flickr

In some ways, Brad Friedel is a strange choice as #1. In a time when competition for the US Goalkeepers spot was fierce, he didn't earn as many caps as Kasey Keller (a 'mere' 82). However, it's telling that some the US's best performances in tournaments have come with Friedel between the sticks - including reaching the quarter-finals in 2002.

Where Friedel's record really stands out is at club level. Aside from the MLS, Friedel has played in Denmark, Turkey (for the mighty Galatasaray) and in England. It's been in England that he's really made his name. Until this year, Friedel had played an incredible 8 seasons in a row without missing a single game. When that record ended, it wasn't due to injury, form or suspension - it was due to a manager with one eye on the future.

At the age of 41, Friedel would still get into over half of the Premier League's starting XI. No other American soccer player has been so dominant and so influential for so long.