U.S. Men’s Soccer head coach Jurgen Klinsmann named his roster last week for next month’s World Cup tournament in Brazil, but not without some controversy.
Landon Donovan was the most prominent snub, but there were some other notable players who were left off, such as Terrence Boyd, Maurice Edu and Brad Evans.
The announcement of the roster and the exclusion of Donovan has led to thoughts of the best American soccer players to have ever laced up their boots.
Here is a Top 25 list of the greatest American players who starred for the U.S. World Cup teams and their clubs.
25. John Harkes – A stalwart midfielder for years, Harkes was instrumental in the development of the U.S. soccer. Harkes was also a steady, intelligent presence in his England club career.
24. Preki – Clever playmaker and winger came on late for the U.S., but his veteran presence was a boon for a squad in transition. Showed tremendous poise and displayed impressive passing skills.
23. Eric Wynalda – The first true striker for a U.S. team desperate to build a reputation, Wynalda scored a memorable goal against Switzerland in 1994 and was a solid contributor for German clubs.
22. Joe-Max Moore – One of the more under-rated players on this list, Moore was a very efficient striker, and was a solid performer for the New England Revolution and Everton.
21. Cobi Jones – As much of a mainstay for the USMNT as it gets, the LA Galaxy legend is the all-time leader in caps (164). Capable of delivering some pinpoint crosses along the right side, the speedster was one of the few American players of his era that often felt indispensable.
20. Marcus Hahnemann – Never received his shot at the No.1 goalkeeper spot because of the loaded talent ahead of him, Hahnemann was a star at Reading.
19. Earnie Stewart – Starred in the Eredivisie for years, and more than exceeded expectations as an attacking midfielder and forward for the Yanks.
18. Geoff Cameron – Comfortable as both a right back and a central defender, the reliable 28-year-old has proved his worth in the Premier League and figures to feature prominently this summer in Brazil.
17. John O’Brien – Loaded with skills and poise, O’Brien was a consistent presence in the midfield for Ajax and the USMNT. At his best, he was perhaps the most valuable player for a U.S. team that had finally earned respect from European powers. If not for injuries, he would be higher on this list.
16. Tab Ramos – An irreplaceable playmaker for the U.S. in the 1990s, Ramos was the first central midfielder to contribute in La Liga. Injuries slowed his progress, but he left an indelible mark on American soccer.
15. Jozy Altidore – Though he is coming off a forgettable season at Sunderland, Altidore dazzled in the Eredivisie in 2012-13, and has been the best goal scorer for the U.S. in recent years. At age 24, his best years should be ahead of him.
14. Oguchi Onyewu – An imposing presence on the ground and air, Onyewu’s abilities were so impressive that he signed with AC Milan, a club with perhaps the richest tradition of defensive stars in Europe. Knee problems have prevented him from reaching his full potential, but he was top-level quality at this best.
13. Jermaine Jones – Defensive midfielders are often overlooked despite their important role, and Jones has been the best American at the position. At Schalke and with the U.S., Jones has not only been a tenacious defender, but often sparks the offense with some good passing.
12. Brad Guzan – Has displayed top-notch form in the Premier League, and, still young for a goalkeeper at age 29, has perhaps not yet reached his peak. Expect him to take charge of the U.S. team after this upcoming World Cup, and be a force for years to come.
11. DaMarcus Beasley – After smoothly transitioning to left back, the uniquely talented former winger is getting a shot to prove himself at age 32 at the World Cup. The oft-injured Beasley had absent periods from the squad, but has intermittently been a star contributor for the USMNT, particularly in 2002.
10. Carlos Bocanegra – The most versatile defensive player in American history, Bocanegra excelled in the Premier League and Ligue 1, while providing the U.S. with consistent play as a defensive midfielder. But he will always be remembered for his leadership skills.
9. Steve Cherundolo – Gave Hannover 96 and the U.S. a tremendous career that spanned roughly 15 years. There may not ever be a right back who will have a U.S. position as locked down as Cherundolo, mainly because he was so efficient and hard-nosed.
8. Michael Bradley – The future remains bright for Bradley, who had a fantastic spell in Serie A before moving back to MLS. The effective playmaker will likely climb this list because of his sharp instincts and dedication, and his moments of sheer brilliance.
7. Brian McBride – A scoring machine who thrived for Columbus and Fulham, McBride was a pure striker who was irreplaceable for the USMNT. Rarely missed the easy opportunities, and knew how to create space for the difficult ones. Also, no U.S. player was as brilliant in the air.
6. Kasey Keller – Let the debate begin. There were moments like his effort against Brazil in the 1998 Gold Cup when you could legitimately suggest that the U.S. had the best keeper on the planet. Was the athletic Keller as good as or better than the next two goalkeepers on this list?
5. Claudio Reyna – Deft playmaker who was often a calming presence distributing the ball, Reyna displayed outstanding dribbling skills and knew how to thread the needle to the right man. Praised for his quiet but efficient role with Glasgow Rangers and the U.S., he often made the players around him look better than they were.
4. Clint Dempsey – Has played as a wing, striker, attacking midfielder, and excelled at all of them. Made a believer out of the often merciless London critics, and at times seemed to single-handedly carry the USMNT on his back with his tenacious play, and knack for being at the right place at the right time.
3. Tim Howard – Only played for Manchester United and had to replace Peter Schmeichel… that’s all. For Everton and the U.S., he has been everything a demanding supporter can expect. Does a lot of the little things right like throwing to the right man and directing traffic.
2. Landon Donovan – When he was 16, Donovan was dubbed the future of U.S. Soccer, and he more than lived up to high expectations. A brilliant finisher and passer who at his best could have played for almost any club in the world, Donovan won’t be going to Brazil, but he deserves tremendous credit and praise for his contributions to the U.S. in 2002, 2006 and 2010, as well as for MLS and the Premier League.
1. Brad Friedel – Few goalkeepers were better against penalty kicks, and not all that many goalkeepers of his generation were better, period. Extremely smart and competitive, Friedel often seemed like the perfect goalkeeper. Even at age 43, he is still an excellent player.
Honorable mentions: Rick Davis, Maurice Edu, Stuart Holden, Hugo Perez, Tony Meola, Alexi Lalas, Benny Feilhaber, Eddie Lewis, Tony Sanneh, Eddie Pope, Clint Mathis, Clarence Goodson, Charlie Davies, Josh Wolff, Frankie Hejduk, Gregg Berhalter, Pablo Mastroeni, Chris Armas, Eddie Johnson, Jay DeMerit, Ricardo Clark, Paul Caligiuri, Bruce Murray, Mike Sorber.