10 Best American Soccer Players Ever: 2023 Edition

28 May 2023

G'day! This is post #3 for me and today I'll be writing about who the best American soccer players ever are. As Major League Soccer continues to grow with new expansion teams, its laying the foundation for the USMNT to become one of the superpowers of world soccer.

The future of American soccer is brighter than ever and a big part of that is Major League Soccer growing into one of the best soccer leagues in the world. Let's take a look at who the best American soccer players of all time are.

10. Michael Bradley

Michael Bradley is one of America's most capped players in history having earned 151 caps for the USMNT. Able to dictate the tempo of games with his physical, intelligent and energetic style of play, Bradley is one of the best American soccer players ever to play the game.

A renowned box-to-box midfielder, Bradley was awarded Male US Soccer Player of the Year in 2015. He moved from Roma to Toronto FC during his prime in 2014, and he's helped transform the franchise while on designated-import money.

9. Marcelo Balboa

Marcelo Balboa forged a reputation as one of the best defenders in USMNT history and is one of the best American soccer players of all time.

A true leader both on and off the field, Balboa became the first American to break the 100-cap mark for the USMNT finishing with 127 caps and 13 goals.

Balboa was named Male US Soccer Player of the Year in 1992 and 1994. He joined the Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer's inaugural year in 1996, and he was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.

8. DeMarcus Beasley

DeMarcus Beasley is the only player in USMNT history to have appeared in four World Cups. He finished with 126 caps and 17 goals for his country and he won a staggering five Gold Cups.

Deployed as a left winger or wingback, his pace, intelligence and fearlessness was often underrated and he excelled both in attack and defense.

7. Christian Pulisic

Christian Pulisic is already one of the best American soccer players of all time. Nicknamed 'Captain America', Pulisic was capped 44 times for the USMNT at youth level and scored 22 goals.

At the age of 22, Pulisic already achieved getting the USMNT to the final of the 2019 Gold Cup and won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2021.

Known for his world-class dribbling skills and his explosive speed, Pulisic is already a multi-time winner of the Male US Soccer Player of the Year award and will only get himself higher up the list as his career progresses.

6. Tim Howard

Tim Howard is the best goalkeeper in the nation's history and one of the best American soccer players of all-time. He starred in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, where he made a record 16 saves against Belgium.

Howard was a phenomenal shot stopper with excellent reflexes and was crowned Male US Soccer Player of the Year in 2008 and 2014.

He spent the majority of his career at Manchester United and Everton, and had MLS spells with MetroStars and Colorado Rapids.

5. Claudio Reyna

Claudio Reyna spent most of his great career playing in Europe before ending it in the MLS with New York Red Bulls. A long-time captain of the USMNT, he finished his career with 111 caps, eight goals and was inducted to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012.

Reyna had exceptional technique, was calm on the ball and played his role in midfield with ease. In 2002 he became the first American in the modern era of soccer to be named to the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team.

4. Eddie Pope

Eddie Pope is the best American soccer defender of all-time and one of the best ever players. Pope is known for having declined offers to play soccer in Europe, instead choosing to remain in the MLS and help raise the profile of American soccer.

Pope was a key player at the back for DC United, MetroStars and Real Salt Lake. For the USMNT he played and started in all 82 times he played and scored 8 goals in the process.

3. Brian McBride

Brian McBride is one of the all time most prolific scorers for the USMNT and is one of the best American soccer players of all time. He forged a successful career in Europe and became an icon at Fulham.

McBride was also a regular scorer for the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire in the MLS, and he is only the second American in history to score at multiple World Cups.

His most memorable moments for the USMNT are his World Cup 2002 goals against Portugal and Mexico, helping to propel the national team to a quarter final finish.

2. Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey is the highest goalscorer in USMNT history, tied with Landon Donovan with 57 goals. Starting his career with the New England Revolution, he would later become the first American to score a hat-trick in the English Premier League and the first player in history to score at three consecutive World Cups for the USMNT.

Dempsey played with a certain swagger and his unworldly technical ability was a cut above the rest. He went on to win three Gold Cups and was named Male US Soccer Player of the Year on three separate occasions.

The second best American soccer player of all time, Dempsey was one of the finest performers for the USMNT and consistently performed across the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

1. Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan is the best American soccer player of all time and he’s the greatest ever scorer for the USMNT, tied with Clint Dempsey on 57 goals. In the MLS, Donovan played a leading role with both the San Jose Earthquakes and the LA Galaxy and he finished his career as the second highest scorer in MLS history with 169 goals.

Donovan featured in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups for the USMNT and his five World Cup goals is the most in the tournament in national history. He’s also won the Male US Soccer Player of the Year award a record five times.

The consistency of Landon Donovan to create special moments with his elite speed and dribbling allowed him the separation to score goals and become the greatest ever.

So important was Landon Donovan to American soccer, the MLS MVP Award was renamed the Landon Donovan MVP Award in his honour in 2015, and he helped put the USMNT and MLS on the world map during a time of struggles.

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south coast surfer
Great list
Pulisic is playing a good game and I see him going far in his career.
It's a good set of great players. Above all I remember Landon Donovan who had a great quality well above the league. Even so, I think that Major League Soccer is still very far from the main European leagues. In women's soccer it is something else, there are indeed leaders.