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Who are the 10 best American soccer players ever? A ranked list
Most of the best American soccer players ever have played in the best leagues and have represented the United States national team at some point. Some of them have played alongside the world's best players and have even made an impact in the European Champions League.
The United States has traditionally preferred American football over soccer and, consequently, has a different history than most successful soccer-playing nations in Europe and South America.
The top 10 best American soccer players ever
Although the USA is not a worldwide soccer power, it has produced some of the best players who have brought elevation and joy to fans. SportsBrief has compiled a list of the top 10 best American soccer players of all time.
10. DaMarcus Beasley
- Years active: 2001 to 2017
- 17 goals in 126 international appearances
Beasley is among the best American soccer players who charmed fans and was successful domestically and globally. He played for some European teams such as PSV, Rangers, Hannover, and Manchester City, thus making history on the international stage.
The renowned legend won the Gold Cup five times and the 2005 tournament's Golden Boot award and is one of the players in United States history who have participated in four World Cups.
9. Tab Ramos
- Years active: 1988 to 2000
- 8 goals in 81 international appearances
Unlike most American soccer players, Ramos was born in Uruguay and moved to the USA when he was 11. He was the most skilled midfielder ever to grace the American national team and was known for taking defenders one-on-one while creating big goal-scoring chances.
The midfielder spent most of his years with the New York MetroStars, Figueres, and Real Betis, helping the latter to La Liga promotion in 1994, thus earning the CONCACAF Player of the Year Award. He signed with a Major League Soccer club and became the first-ever player to do so in 1995.
Ramos scored his first international goal while playing against Costa Rica in the 1990 World Cup and provided an assist against Trinidad & Tobago, thus helping the USA reach greater heights in the World Cup.
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8. Claudio Reyna
- Years active: 1994 to 2006
- 8 goals in 112 international appearances
Throughout his career, Reyna played for the USA, serving as a captain for nearly 13 years. He was a talented midfielder who often found a way of distributing the ball relatively efficiently and creating goal-scoring chances.
Captaining the 2002 World Cup squad, the country reached the quarterfinals for the first time in history. He is widely considered among the best United States men's soccer players of all time.
7. Michael Bradley
- Years active: 2006 to 2019
- 17 goals in 151 international appearances
Bradley was the engine of the USA national team and a midfield wizard. He is America's third-highest-capped player with over 150 international appearances. Moreover, he had a successful career playing in Europe for teams such as Borussia Monchengladbach and AS Roma.
He had his first international appearance at 18 years and grew up to be a critical component in the midfield position for over a decade, and for many years he was in the first 11 suited up to play for his country.
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6. Brian McBride
- Years active: 1993 to 2006
- 30 goals in 95 international appearances
Brian is one of the greatest soccer legends the United States has ever had who played without fear. He played for Columbus for seven years before moving to Fulham, becoming the club's top scorer in the 2006/07 Premier League season, and was made captain.
The legendary American soccer player was crucial to the 2002 World Cup squad. He scored against both Portugal and Mexico in the group stage and round of 16, respectively.
His early opener against El Tri remains the only World Cup knockout stage victory in the United States Men's National Team history. He also became the first player in the MLS draft in 1996.
5. Brad Friedel
- Years active: 1992 to 2005
- 0 goals in 82 international appearances
Brad was considered the top soccer goalkeeper in the United States national team. He appeared consistently for European clubs such as Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, and Tottenham. He had the most Premier League appearance of any North and South American player ever.
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His international career was full of achievements as he took part in three World Cups and made a record by becoming the first goalkeeper to save non-shootout penalties in the World Cup since 1976.
4. Christian Pulisic
- Years active: 2016 to date
- 22 goals in 56 international appearances
Pulisic is among the best American soccer players at 23 years old and has yet to bag a trophy for his national team. He won the Champions League with Chelsea scoring a crucial goal and providing an assist against Real Madrid in the semi-finals.
He is the only American that has played in the Champions League final and the top scorer with four goals more than all other Americans combined.
3. Tim Howard
- Years active: 2002 to 2017
- 0 goals in 121 international appearances
Tim is arguably the best goalkeeper the United States has ever had. Before moving to Manchester United, he played for MetroStars in MLS and, after that, went to Everton for a decade.
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Making an appearance in two World Cups, the renowned goalkeeper had one of the best careers in the American national team. He set the world record for the most saves in a game and died to see his team in the quarterfinals.
While at Everton, Tim Howard made Premier League history that still stands today by scoring a goal against Bolton from over 100 yards.
2. Clint Dempsey
- Years active: 2004 to 2017
- 57 goals in 141 international appearances
Clint was one of the most gifted players of his generation who holds the record for scoring the most goals for the USA. His track record speaks for itself, as he was the most consistent player scoring in every World Cup that he took part in. He made a name for himself while at Fulham by becoming the club's top scorer with 50 goals, a record he still holds.
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1. Landon Donovan
- Years active: 2000 to 2014
- 57 goals in 157 international appearances
With his career length, iconic team moments, and club's success, Landon is deemed the most outstanding American male soccer player ever. In 2002, he earned the World Cup's Best Young Player award after a historic run to the quarterfinals.
He spent most of his years at the LA Galaxy before moving to Everton on two occasions on loan, in 2010 and 2012. Donavan holds the record for winning the MLS six times and providing the most assists in its history.
Who is the best American soccer player of all time?
Landon Donovan is the best American soccer player of all time. He is at the top regarding goals scored, tying with Dempsey at 57. The famous soccer player also holds the record for the most assists and ranks second in appearances.
Who was the first American soccer player to win the Champions League?
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Although he was benched, Kirovski was the first American to win the Champions League and the first to score.
Has the USA Men's national team ever won the World Cup?
The United States men's national soccer team has never won the World Cup. The furthest the team has advanced is to the quarterfinals on rare occasions, while they are mostly eliminated at the group stage.
The best American soccer players have made names for themselves in various leagues in and outside the country. They have helped the United States national team to advance towards glory. As of 2023, the United States of America has taken part in 10 World Cup competitions since 1930.
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Strikers are the highest-paid individuals in the soccer world, hold excellent transfer value, and thus are expected to deliver consistently. Click the link above for more details about the world's top 20 best strikers.