America’s Team in Europe? The Answer Might Change Soon
As soccer continues to grow domestically, many US Men’s National Team fans yearn for any good news about young players paying their dues in Europe and climbing the ranks to push for playing time. Whether it’s a tweet informing us of an injury update on Emerson Hyndman, or a Streamable video showing Weston McKinnie’s passing range, nothing beats a compelling bildungsroman to kindle the hope that we could be on the cusp of a golden generation of talent.
While the success of the Dallas Cowboys through the 1970s earned them the moniker “America’s Team”, trying to apply this nickname to Americans plying their trade in Europe introduces a number of dilemmas. Do we want to give it to the team that has played the greatest number of American players? What about the teams that have won the most silverware while Americans were on the team? What about American coaches, too?
In this article, I’ll present the case for different teams that could arguably stake a claim to “America’s Team in Europe.”
Clint Dempsey: 232 caps, 60 goals. Appeared in Europa League Final in 2010. 2x Fulham Player of the Season.
Brian McBride: 171 caps, 41 goals. 2x Fulham Player of the Season. Named captain in his final season.
Carlos Bocanegra: 133 caps, 8 goals.
It’s pretty hard to ignore Fulham as one of the most prominent destinations for American talent abroad, as well as one of the places where Americans have been well-received by the fans. The admiration went so far that a bar in the Craven Cottage was christened, McBride’s, to honor the striker’s scrappy performances. Joining this with a few memorable seasons by Clint Dempsey, that lob against Juventus in the Europa League, and it’s clear to see how the nickname Fulhamerica is well-deserved.
Maurice Edu: 125 caps, 12 goals. 3x SPL Champion, 2x Scottish League Cup Champion, 1x Scottish Cup Champion.
Claudio Reyna: 64 SPL caps, 10 goals. 1x SPL Champion, 1x Scottish Cup Champion
DaMarcus Beasley: 46 caps, 7 goals. 2x SPL Champion, 2x Scottish Cup Champion, 2x Scottish League Cup Champion.
Don’t be deceived by the trophy count — the Scottish Premier League has traditionally been a two-horse race (since 2012 a one-horse race). Nevertheless, Americans have traditionally done well by the Glasgow side. Emerson Hyndman, who currently plays for Bournemouth, has been one of the most recent loan signings to impress there.
Tim Howard: 354 caps, 116 Premier League clean sheets.
Preki: 46 Premier League caps, 4 goals.
Joe-Max Moore: 52 Premier League caps, 8 goals.
While Preki and Joe-Max Moore might not be household names among the Goodison faithful, Tim Howard’s presence on the list (who has the fourth-most clean sheets at a single club) gives Everton additional clout.
Credentials: This guy
Believe it or not, an American has actually won the Champions League with Dortmund when they defeated Juventus in the 1997 final. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Jovan Kirovski, whose two substitute appearances against Atletico Madrid in the Group Stage earned him a winner’s medal. Christian Pulisic, the current wunderkind of U.S. soccer after breaking into the BvB first team in 2016, will bring many American audiences to the Bundesliga and the Yellow Submarine if his current rise continues.
Honorable Mentions: Tottenham, Schalke, Wolfsburg, Huddersfield Town.
Just For Kicks
While nearly half of the 1994 World Cup squad was plucked directly from the collegiate circuit (with no other substantial professional experience), recent World Cup squads have had higher barriers to entry. Here’s the breakdown of where each squad member plied his club trade before each World Cup since 1990.
Strikers, looking to do some stat-padding? The Dutch Eredivisie might be just what the doctor ordered. It should be pointed out, Jozy Altidore (39), Aron Jóhannsson (29), and Earnie Stewart (94!) contributed 162 of the goals in the attack-happy league: