There has been a steady stream of USMNT players in the Premier League over the years and now seems like a good time to reveal our top 10.
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No shock that plenty of ‘Fulhamerica’ stars feature in our rankings list below, and plenty of goalkeepers too, as there are plenty of factors to consider when ranking the top USMNT players to have graced the Premier League. How much of an impact did they have? Which teams did they play for? How long did they stay in England’s top-flight?
Feel free to let us know if you agree with the rankings in the comments below. Hopefully we will have plenty of USMNT players in the Premier League to add to these rankings in the years to come.
10 – Kasey Keller: The first of several American goalkeepers in our list, Kasey Keller bounced around plenty of Premier League teams and was as reliable as ever for all of them. Keller played for Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Fulham and his baggy sweatpants during his days at Leicester were a thing of beauty. Keller played in goal as Leicester won the 1996-97 League Cup and that is where he had the majority of his success. The Seattle native battled with Brad Friedel, Tony Meola and Tim Howard for minutes throughout his USMNT career and spent the majority of his club playing days in Europe with stops in Spain and Germany along the way.
9 – Landon Donovan: This pick could cause some controversy but I’m going with it. Donovan only played on loan at Everton for two brief spells but he was so good on both occasions that Everton’s fans were begging David Moyes to sign him permanently from the LA Galaxy. Donovan used those loan spells to get himself ready for the upcoming MLS campaigns but it also seemed like a reminder to everyone who doubted him that he could indeed cut it in the big leagues in Europe after failures at Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich earlier in his career. Donovan was quite happy to play the role of fleeting star at Everton for a few months then fly back to LA and star for the Galaxy. Can we really argue with that plan? It was a shame, though, that one of the greatest players in USMNT history didn’t grace the Premier League stage for longer.
8 – Claudio Reyna: Played in 105 games for Sunderland and Man City and would have played a lot more had injuries not him hard. Reyna spent the prime years of his career in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg (who he captained) but he was still hugely influential for both Man City and Sunderland who, at that time, were midtable Premier League teams. Reyna had been at Glasgow Rangers and is known as the original ‘Captain America’ who led by example with his silky skills in midfield at Sunderland and Man City.
7 – Geoff Cameron: Clint Dempsey is the only American outfield player to have appeared in more Premier League games than Cameron. A six-season stay with Stoke City in the PL saw Cameron operate at right back, center back and in his preferred role of central midfield and his composure on the ball compliments his defensive ability and reading of the game. Cameron has flown under the radar but was hugely appreciated at Stoke. The Boston native was influential in the USMNT’s 2014 World Cup and 2016 Copa America Centenario teams and he has risen from the college game in the U.S. to the PL via the Houston Dynamo through sheer hard work and grit. Underrated.
6 – Carlos Bocanegra: Bocanegra became the captain and leader at Fulham and will go down as one of the greatest American defenders of all time. His five-season stay at Fulham was during the real heyday of ‘Fulhamerica’ and he had a very respectable career in Europe after spells at Rennes, Glasgow Rangers, Saint Etienne and Racing Santander. Boca was a dominant center back who had class on the ball with his left foot and dominated MLS as a youngster. He won 110 caps for the U.S. and played at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, captaining the team in the latter and during their amazing Gold Cup run.
5 – Christian Pulisic: Listen, he’s only played in the Premier League 16 times but he’s scored five goals (including a hat trick against Burnley) and it’s safe to say he’s having a huge impact at one of the biggest clubs in England, Chelsea. Pulisic is still just 21 years old and he’s living his dream ripping it up in the PL after his $75 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund. His creativity, pace and cutting edge in the final third means he has taken the reputation of American players to a whole new level. Only at the start of his Premier League journey but if we’re updating these rankings in five years time, it’s hard to see how Pulisic will not be at the very top given how much potential he has to be a star at Chelsea.
4 – Brian McBride: Another ‘Fulhamerica’ star, McBride was a hero at Craven Cottage. The Illinois native was a proper old school center forward and was loved at first Everton, then Fulham for his bravery. A menace in the air, he led the line superbly and was captain of Fulham alongside Bocanegra and the host of American players (Kasey Keller, Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey were all in Fulham’s 2007-08 squad). McBride scored 41 goals across four seasons at Fulham and will forever hold a place in the hearts of their fans.
3- Brad Friedel: An incredible career in England which saw him play at Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham across 16 Premier League seasons. Friedel played until he was 43 and told us all about his journey in this piece about his arrival in the English game and how he lasted so long at the top level in the UK. He played in 450 Premier League games which is a record for any player from North or South America. His agility and positioning allowed him to stay in the game for so long and he was a great in a truly great generation of American goalkeepers. He played 82 times for the USMNT and was the starter at both the 1998 and 2002 World Cups before moving aside to let Tim Howard take over. When we talk about legendary American playing careers, Friedel is right at the top and his form in the Premier League definitely opened the door for Howard and other young USMNT goalkeepers to arrive in the years to come. The fact his incredible hybrid accent isn’t the main highlight from his career in England tells you just how great of a goalkeeper he was. Oh, and he scored for Blackburn against Charlton too.
2- Clint Dempsey: Deuce was a game-changer for American players in the Premier League. Dempsey was something completely different than what English teams and fans had seen before from U.S. stars and his swagger on the ball saw him become a legend at Fulham. He was one of their best players during their epic run to the UEFA Europa League final (my goodness, that chip against Juventus in the last 16) and finished as their top goalscorer during several seasons. In the 2011-12 season he scored 23 goals in all competitions and he then moved on to Tottenham. He contributed at Spurs but it was in his six seasons at Fulham where he had the biggest impact as he won back-to-back players of the year awards during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Dempsey is a Fulham and USMNT legend and anytime Fulham or the USA needed him he stood tall.
1 – Tim Howard: A legend at Everton after being at Goodison Park for 10 years, Howard was consistently superb for a decade. The New Jersey native did okay when he first arrived in England at Man United but after an initial loan spell at Everton, he had found his home and soon joined permanently. From 2006 to 2016 he was a constant in Everton’s goal, making fine reflex stops and rushing off his line to thwart danger as the Toffees became a team which challenged for the top six and reached the latter stages of cup competitions consistently. Howard, now 41, is adored at Everton and like Friedel, he even scored a goal in the Premier League. When all is said and done, Howard had the biggest impact over the longest period of time of any American player on a single Premier League club.
Honorable mention: Brad Guzan, DeAndre Yedlin, Jonathan Spector, Joe-Max Moore, Jay DeMerit, John Harkes