20 Best American Soccer Players of All Time

The history of United States Soccer is certainly not as amazing as many other countries. Soccer has not traditionally been a major sport in the country, so the team has felt like they are playing constant catch-up with the rest of the world to start competing.

While they have had some exciting moments, the United States is still not considered a major player in the game.

With that said, the 20 players listed below have shown at some point in their career that they can compete against the best players in the world. Many played in the best leagues, and they all represented the United States at some point in international play. These are the 20 best soccer players of all time from the United States.


1. Landon Donovan

Maybe one of the young guys going right now can take the spot from him, but Landon Donovan is still the top guy in United States soccer. He was the face of the team for 15 years, and he is ranked first or second in several different categories.

With four US soccer Athlete of the Year awards to his name, no individual means more to the United States than Landon Donovan.


2. Michael Bradley

Most guys near the top of the list for certain countries have plenty of eye-popping statistics by their name. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Michael Bradley, as he is more about controlling the game in the center and being a great midfielder from box to box.

He was able to play well in Serie A, and he also excelled in the MLS and for Team USA. For so many years, he has been counted on by the United States to suit up and play steadily for his side.


3. Clint Dempsey

There is quite a bit of similarity between Dempsey and Donovan. Some people will have Dempsey ahead of Donovan, and there is certainly an argument to be made for that.

Whether it is the three different World Cup teams he has been on, or the fact that he is a legend for both Fulham and the Seattle Sounders, there is no doubt that he had quite a bit of success as a club player. He is the most gifted player of his generation, and will be near the top of a list like this for quite some time.


4. Christian Pulisic

As a young, exciting star of United States soccer, Christian Pulisic has already accomplished things that others on this list never touched during their playing career. He has not only made the transition to Europe at the club level, but he has turned into a standout player in the Premier League.

He still has not had any amazing opportunities for the United States national team, but he will get a few cracks at it in the next decade or so to move up this list considerably.


5. Cobi Jones

Cobi Jones was one of the first stars of MLS when he signed with LA Galaxy. It helped that his team was a consistent winner, and he also had some key moments for Team USA when it came to international play.

One of the best midfielder attackers in the country’s history, the LA Galaxy decided to retire his number when he hung it up for good.


6. Tim Howard

It is hard to argue for anyone else when it comes to being the best goalkeeper of all time for the United States. Tim Howard not only had some memorable moments for the United States, but he spent over a decade in the Premier League playing for Manchester United and Everton.

Most fans of the United States national team will remember his Round of 16 performance in the 2014 World Cup. He almost found a way to keep Belgium at bay by himself, as the United States kept counting on him to make one miraculous save after another.


7. Josie Altidore

There is always going to be some level of disappointment with Josie Altidore, as many people thought that he was destined to be a true superstar. When he was 16 years old, he played for the New York Bulls, and he was moving over to Europe in no time after that. He never quite found his footing over there, and that left a sour taste in the mouth of some.

Altidore has still found a way to contribute to the USA soccer team, and he has been one of the top performers in the MLS as well. He still makes this list and is well respected, but more than a few people expected him higher.


8. Weston McKennie

The fast, athletic midfielder is finding quite a bit of success in Europe, as he now plays for powerhouse Juventus. There are high expectations for him in the United States as someone who can help lead the national team.

In the right system, he is without question one of the most talented players to represent the United States ever. It is still a bit too early to move him up too high up on this list, but he has the potential to be right near the top soon.


9. Claudio Reyna

Serving as the captain of the national team for the United States for close to 13 years, Claudio Reyna was a pretty talented player as well. The midfielder mostly found a way to distribute with relative ease, leaving the scoring up to other players.

He did score eight goals in his 112 appearances, but that only tells part of the story of his ability to contribute. If you ask me, Claudio Reyna is the best playmaker United States has ever had.


10. Eric Wynalda

At one point in time, Eric Wynalda was the most prolific scorer in United States national team history. He was a very dynamic striker, always finding ways to open up scoring opportunities.

He had his best year in 1996, but he was a pretty strong player for most of his career that gets a little overlooked in today’s game.


11. Kasey Keller

If not for Tim Howard, Kasey Keller would be much more highly regarded for his exploits in the goal. He played professional soccer for 23 years, and he was able to compete in the top league in Germany, England, and Spain.

For the United States National Team, he finished with 102 caps, and he participated in four World Cups. Howard was the better talent, but Keller was not far behind.


12. Brian McBride

Brian McBride was one of the first United States players to really succeed in the English Premier League. Playing for Fulham, he was able to contribute for five seasons and help them put together some solid wins.

Once he returned to the United States to play in MLS, he was a star for both Columbus Crew and the Chicago Fire. When he retired, he was one of the all-time greats in finding the back of the net for the United States.


13. Demarcus Beasley

Demarcus Beasley’s prime might not be as impressive as some of the other players on this list, but his longevity gives him a bit of a boost. He spent a ton of time suiting up for the national team, and he sits well in the top 10 for most all-time appearances.

He was a left-winger who would not score much for any team he played on, but he was steady and found ways to create winning plays for his team.


14. Tyler Adams

Injuries have slowed Adams down a bit in the last year or so, but he remains a very important part of RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. No one is quite sure yet where he fits in best with the United States National Team, but he has the versatility to play midfielder or right back.

He is still developing as a player when going up against the best of the best, but he has a chance to be a true star for the United States team for years to come.


15. Sergino Dest

Any player from the United States who plays for Barcelona must have some talent. Sergio Dest has been getting an opportunity to shine on one of the best club teams in the world, and that leads to lofty expectations back home in the United States.

What can really play a major role with Dest and his ultimate legacy comes down to what he can do for the United States. There have not been many talented players in United States history at the fullback position, but he can help fix a weakness that has been there for a while.


16. John Brooks

Even though he has never lived in the United States, John Brooks represents the United States as the son of American servicemen. He is currently a defender for VfL Wolfsburg, and he is a stand outside back for the United States national team.

He was a dependable player who seems to always be in the correct position, and he will be looked at as a bit of a leader for the next few years on the national team.


17. Jeff Agoos

Defenders rarely get the attention they deserve, and that is certainly the case with Jeff Agos. He was a quality defender for the national team and his club teams for an extended period of time, leading to a very productive career.

In MLS history, he has a record with five MLS titles to his name. He won three with DC United, and two with the San Jose Earthquakes.


18. Marcelo Balboa

In the 1990s, Marcello Balboa was one of the most recognizable players on the United States national team. Part of that was because of his looks, but it also came down to steady play as a defender.

This guy finished his career with 127 caps for the United States national team and 13 goals. His most extensive professional run came with the Colorado Rapids in the MLS, as he appeared in 151 matches for them.


19. Eddie Johnson

To this day, Eddie Johnson is still a top 10 goal scorer in United States National Team history. Not bad for a player who only appeared and 63 matches. He had a long, productive career as a professional, playing for numerous MLS teams and having a stint in Europe.

As a striker, he was a dynamic youth player who had considerable hype around him as he was coming up. At the time, he set an MLS record with a $5 million transfer fee offer from Benfica, but it was ultimately rejected.


20. Tony Meola

No one is going to rank Tony Meola ahead of the likes of Tim Howard or even Kasey Keller. But, he did have a productive career as a goalkeeper while participating in multiple World Cups. At the club level, he found a lot of time playing for the Metrostars and the Wizards in the MLS.

Some people might look at this as more of a career record than anything, but his 100 appearances for the United States National Team put him up there with some of the best to ever play.

Connor Smith

I'm Connor, the guy behind SoccerPrime. I'm a former NCAA Div 1 college player that retired at the age of 21 due to injuries - which led me into a new career as a soccer coach.

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