The US Men’s National Team have qualified for seven straight World Cups, have won five Gold Cups since 1991, and made it to the semi-final of the 2016 Copa America. They’re one of the better national teams in the world, and have been for 20 years now.
Fine, they’re not Germany. Or Argentina, or Chile, or Mexico. They’re not as good as Colombia and Italy and Portugal. But they’re around the same level as England, and various top-level African teams. They’re as good if not better than Russia and Ecuador and even the Netherlands.
Not many countries in the world can boast of the same consistent success and world-class talent that the United States can. No matter what the Euro snobs say, we’re good, and we’re getting better.
For proof, just look at the depth our country has in every position, and all the players we have playing in the best leagues in the world.
Tim Howard was a starting goalkeeper for Manchester United and Everton. Brad Guzan remains a Premier League starter. Geoff Cameron is a fixture in Stoke City’s lineup at center back. 20-year old Santa Cruz-native Lynden Gooch has gotten minutes this season for Sunderland, and even earned a Man-of-the-Match award.
Seattle Sounders academy product and Cascadia native DeAndre Yedlin recently signed a $6.6 million deal with Championship side and Rafa Benitez-managed Newcastle after making appearances for Tottenham and Sunderland in the EPL. Another MLS product — former New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga — is currently on Chelsea’s roster, and 19-year old Gedion Zelalem plays for Arsenal.
Another American teenager — 18-year old Cameron Carter-Vickers — is making matchday squads for Tottenham. Emerson Hyndman signed for newly-promoted Bournemouth over the summer.
John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler, Alfredo Morales, Aron Johannsson and Bobby Wood all are weekly starters in the Bundesliga. Johnson, Brooks, and Wood are national team starters.
Julian Green made super-club Bayern Munich’s roster. 17-year old wunderkind Christian Pulisic is a wanted commodity in Europe after experiencing success with Borussia Dortmund’s first-team; Stoke City is among those placing lucrative bids on the Hershey, Pennsylvania native. Terrence Boyd (RB Leipzig) and Joseph Gyau (Dortmund) also are on Bundesliga rosters.
Jonathan Spector, Tim Ream, Eric Lichaj, and Danny Williams are among those who play in the English Championship. Omar Gonzalez, Edgar Castillo, Jorge Villafana, Michael Orozco and Paul Arriola are some of many who play in Mexico’s Liga MX.
In MLS, there are a number of international-level players as well. Michael Bradley is the USMNT captain; Clint Dempsey is one of the top national team scorers in the world; Jozy Altidore has dominated of late; and Gyasi Zardes has loads of potential.
There’s depth everywhere. Bill Hamid and Ethan Horvath and David Bingham are contenders for a future starting spot at goalkeeper. Yedlin, Johnson (unfortunately), Ream, Orozco, Chandler, Matt Besler, Castillo, Lichaj, and a number of others are quality full-back options. At center back, Brooks is the future, and Cameron is a high-level starter. Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Gonzalez, and Steve Birnbaum also are contenders for roster spots at the position.
Kyle Beckerman, a core member of the old guard, will defer to players like Perry Kitchen (of Hearts, in Scotland), Reading’s Williams, and Wil Trapp at defensive midfielder along with Bradley. Alejandro Bedoya is among the US’s many options in center midfield (Hyndman, Gooch, Morales, Darlington Nagbe, Jermaine Jones), and at winger, Zardes, Pulisic, Arriola, Ethan Finlay, Graham Zusi, Tommy McNamara and others could get opportunities.
To go along with Dempsey (who will miss next week’s qualifiers with a heart problem), Altidore, Wood, Green, Johannsson, Jordan Morris, and Rubio Rubin could earn call-ups at forward.
And this isn’t even mentioning players like Sacha Kljestan and Lee Nguyen and Dax McCarty who probably should have been in this discussion a while ago. C.J. Sapong is a future option at forward, Kellyn Acosta is another candidate to be played out of position by Jurgen Klinsmann, Fatai Alashe has received U-23 caps, and Justen Glad has played well for RSL this season.
Tommy Redding is 19 and is getting minutes in Orlando. Benny Feilhaber should be (but isn’t) still in the conversation. I’m a fan of Dillon Powers in Colorado. 19-year old Erik Palmer-Brown is on loan with Porto B from SKC. I can go on.
Klinsmann has many, many, options at his disposal. He has players excelling in top leagues around the world, and he has impressive young depth at every position. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on US Soccer history, but I could see this core of players being the best this country has ever seen. I hope we can make good use of it.
In the meantime, I think we should simply sit back and appreciate the wealth of talent we have, because not many other countries can do the same.