During the 2012-13 Premier League Season, Stoke City looked to be wrestling the title of “America’s Premier League” team away from Craven Cottage.
The balances could tip back to Fulham now that Shahid Khan, Pakistani by birth but owner of the very-American Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League, has assumed control of the little West London team on the Thames.
Geoff Cameron, Maurice Edu and Brek Shea remain at the Britannia for Stoke City, while Fulham is fresh out of Americans. (On the senior team at least. Don’t forget, Emerson Hyndman, grandson of FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman, is a valued midfielder in Fulham’s youth development system.)
But Stoke has some catching up in order to match the historic rate of import of American who have come and gone at Craven Cottage. The quick rundown:
- Marcus Hahnemann, 1999-02: Coming over from the Colorado Rapids, Hahnemann played just two matches in goal for Fulham. But the time there did help create a career in England, one spent mostly in the land’s second tier.
- Eddie Lewis, 2000-02: Playing time was similarly sparse for the midfielder, although he did see action a little more frequently over the first two seasons, before Fulham gained promotion into England’s top tier.
- Carlos Bocanegra, 2004-2008: Playing at center back and left back, Bocanegra was the first American to truly establish himself as a Craven Cottage fixture, playing 116 games there over four seasons.
- Brian McBride, 2004-2008: The same time Bocanegra was patrolling the back, Brian McBride was ensconcing himself as a legend up front. So beloved was the man who hit 33 times for Fulham over four seasons that they later named a lounge at the ground after him.
- Kasey Keller, 2007-2008: Unlike the others, Keller was an established figure in European soccer when he arrived into West London. The longtime U.S. international took over as starter from the injured Antti Niemi, but was soon injured himself and eventually spent just one season at Fulham.
- Clint Dempsey, 2007 – 2012: Clearly the star of the “Fulhamerica” show. “Deuce” punctuated five highly successful seasons at Fulham with that amazing campaign of 2011-12, after which he finished fourth in FWA Footballer of the Year balloting behind Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes.
- Eddie Johnson, 2008-2009: Johnson never quite caught on, playing out his original contract on a series of loans spells to three other clubs.