- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On May 25, 2009
- 2 Comments
- Clint Dempsey, Geoff Reid, Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard
Editor’s note: Geoff Reid appears each week on WVHooligan.com. This week he is tackling the great debate about who is the best US National team player? Feel free to leave Geoff your thoughts below.
This is a question Iíve thought about the last few days. There can be cases made for a number of players depending on accomplishments achieved, trophies won, goals to matches ratio and list can go on and on. The big question here is who is the current best national team player? Four players come to mind in no particular order: Michael Bradley, Timmy Howard, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.
Landon is the top scorer of all time in the US Soccer program. Heís won more player of the year honors out of the current pool of players. Landonís case could be a lot stronger if he goes to Europe and proves himself. Until he does that, he will always have his critics after his earlier stint at Bayer Leverkusen. The whole loan deal at Bayern Munich under Jurgen Klinsmann could have been better and also could have been worse. The problem Donovan had in Bavaria was that he didnít have the time to impress. He started by being third choice striker behind Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose and ahead of soon to be outgoing Lucas Podolski. At the end of his loan, with Toni out injured, Podolski was starting up front with Klose and not Donovan.He† has the talent to succeed at a good European club. For his and for the National Teamís sake he should get picked up by a top 10 club in Germany, England or Spain after the end of the MLS season and in January during the European transfer window. Who knows, maybe David Beckham could give him a good reference and golden balls might help US Soccer in a different way!
Clint Dempsey has had to prove himself under three different managers in west London. First Chris Coleman who signed him and has a good history with American players by saying Brian McBride was the best 750,000 pounds spent in his managerial career. Just as it seemed he earned his place in Colemanís side, Lawrie Sanchez took over the helm. The former Northern Ireland manager saved the club from relegation and ďDeuceĒ became a vital part of his side. Not even half way through the next season Sanchez got the boot and was replaced by Roy Hodgson. Hodgson has one of the best resumes in world football having managed Inter Milan, Switzerland, and Finland amongst many other clubs and National Teams. Once again, Dempsey had to prove his worth and bide his time on the substitutes bench. He eventually cracked the starting lineup and never looked back. In all honesty, Dempseyís game has improved massively under Hodgson as have all the Fulham players. Still being only 26, he can still improve more baring no injury setbacks or complete loss of form (touch wood).
Tim Howardís story is a great one. In the recent ESPN small documentary on his life with the success and struggles heís been through makes me even more proud heís our top goalkeeper (unless Brad Friedel fancies another crack at the world cup in 2010?). He might not have succeeded by his standards at Manchester United, however, that experience certainly helped him become a better goalkeeper. Iím a firm believer in the only way you can get better at something is by getting more experience at what you do. Howard this year has better command in his goalmouth, claims crosses much better, and is not as mistake prone and doesnít hesitate compared to the Tim Howard of 2003. Easily, he is in the top five goalkeepers in the Premiership right now and would easily be Englandís number one if he were English.
Now this leaves us with Michael Bradley at Borussia Moenchengladbach. Last season, the Princeton, New Jersey born midfielder scored 17 goals for Heerenveen in the Dutch Erivedese and drew interest from a number of clubs last summer including Everton and Blackburn Rovers. He eventually moved to the Bundesliga and while he had a rough start with a few coaching changes, he settled down and started banging in a few goals for his new club and become a regular in the starting eleven. His tally was not as near as it was in Holland, but still very respectable for his first season at the club in a new country under three different managers.
Now, is Bradley currently the best American player? You can certainly argue his case, however, itís important to realize that heís only 21 and has so much more time and potential to grow. Because he is still young, it must also be defined which is his best position: a deep holding midfielder that does the dirty work, or a box to box player who scores a lot of goals in the Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard mold? Itís very useful for a manager to have players that can play a variety of positions, however, this does holdback players from sometimes maximizing their true potential. Could Donovan be better if he only played in one position instead of three or four? Possibly. The issue with Bradley is time is on his side and like Dempsey baring injuries (John OíBrien) or a complete loss of form (Clint Mathis) he can most definitely turn into the best player this country has ever produced until someone else comes along. Whatís pleasing to see is the critics of both Michael and his father, US head coach Bob Bradley have quieted down since his performance against Mexico in Columbus. Michael gets playing time not because heís the son of the coach, because heís simply that good and the best option in that position, end of story.
Quick food for thought: Coming up later tomorrow will be a preview of the Champions League Final between Barcelona and Manchester United. Later in the week an FA Cup Final preview between Everton and Chelsea will also be on the way.
Hope everyone had a good Memorial day weekend and a special thank you to our service men and women who have sacrificed themselves for this great country.