This week, the eyes of the world have been on America as they promoted their former assistant manager to the top job.
Britain and America allegedly have a special relationship. Currently, six full internationals play in the Premier League and only two of them can be found at Fulham! No fewer than eleven full internationals have called Craven Cottage home in the past and five more youth players are currently on the books. In total, 48 Americans have played Premier League Football. Those numbers will only increase in the future so, with that in mind, here is the best XI of Yanks to play in the Premier League.
There is only one place to start for the goaltender. Former Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa, and Tottenham man, Brad Friedel, played 450 Premier League games between 1997 and 2014 including eight straight seasons without missing a game. He kept 132 clean sheets during this time at a rate of 29.33%.
Statistically, Tim Howard was a better goalkeeper, but Friedel came from a time when there were no professional leagues in America. Between 1992 and 1995, he played exclusively for the American national team for two years whilst he struggled to gain a work permit before moving to Brøndby and finding his way to the Premier League in 1997.
There isn’t a great deal of choice for defenders. The most capped American defender is Geoff Cameron and, whilst he was never a household name, Cameron was consistent during his time at Stoke making 168 appearances over six seasons scoring twice. He averaged roughly 2.5 tackles per game as the Potters recorded three first half positions.
The first of three Fulham players to make our list is defender Carlos Boacanegra. The hundred-cap international played 116 times in four seasons and became a firm favourite on the banks of the Thames. He cemented cult hero status in 2006 when he scored a last minute winner against Tottenham.
There aren’t many players that would happily swap Sunderland for Newcastle but full-back, DeAndre Yedlin had no issue doing it. Okay, so he wasn’t technically a Sunderland player having moved on loan from Tottenham but it’s still rare. Yedlin has been a solid performer for Newcastle playing 78 times in the Premier League. In total, he has 102 appearances in the Premier League weighing in with three goals and five assists.
Manchester United snapped up Jonathon Spector as a striker before converting him into a defender. Named the clubs young player of the season in 2003, he made his first team debut the following season. Spector played three league times for United in total before moving on loan to Charlton where he made 20 more. He went on to make 101 appearances for West Ham but injuries stopped him making a huge impact.
A former captain of the US national team, Claudio Reyna made 115 Premier League performances for Sunderland and Manchester City. Reyna’s technical ability was compared to Zidane during his career. He is remembered for his excellent passing despite not hitting the same heights as Zizou. Reyna broke the record transfer fee for an American twice in his career.
Not many players on this list have domestic honours, but John Harkes is one of them. In 1991, Sheffield Wednesday beat Manchester United to win the League Cup despite being in the second tier. Harkes started the match before he was substituted. Harkes played in a second League Cup final in 1993. He scored in that game and became the first American to score for a league club at Wembley. Sheffield Wednesday lost the game 2-1 to Arsenal and also went on to lose the FA Cup final to the same team that season
Christian Pulisic may well be the first American global superstar. He has been injured a lot since arriving in West London but this didn’t stop him scoring nine times and assisting four more. The winger averages nearly 2.5 dribbles per game during his Chelsea career and forged a reputation as one of the trickiest wingers in the league.
Statistically, the best American to grace the Premier League is former Fulham and Tottenham player, Clint Dempsey. With 57 goals and 19 assists, Dempsey stands alone for goal involvements. He was also the first Yank to grab a top-flight hattrick and hit 23 goals in all competitions in 2011/12. The standout moment in Deuce’s career in England came in 2010. He scored that chip to knock Juventus out of the Europe.
The third and final Fulham player on this list is Brian McBride. McBride only scored 36 in 148 Premier League appearances but he gained cult status from Fulham fans. A former US captain and the current manager, fans remember McBride for his commitment, work-rate, and passion. The most iconic imaged from his career probably came in the 2006 World Cup. He bounced back up from an elbow by Daniele De Rossi with blood dripping down his face as if nothing had happened.
This list could not be complete without arguably the greatest American player of all time, Landon Donovan. Donovan only made 17 appearances for Everton. He did, however, make a significant impact during his short time on Merseyside. Donovan managed two goals and six assists during his time there. He had two loan spells at Everton which makes his performance even stronger. Donovan managed 157 caps for the national side scoring 57 times. He only one of three players to score at multiple World Cups for the USA (the other two being McBride and Dempsey).
So, there we have it, the team of Americans with the biggest impact on the Premier League.
There are, however, some that knocked on the door but ultimately fell short. Honourable mentions include Stuart Holden who Bolton fans will remember fondly. The midfielder made 30 appearances for the club but significant injuries led to his game time restricted and his premature retirement. DaMarcus Beasley may have made 126 appearances for the national side but failed to impress in an eighteen game spell at Manchester City. And Roy Wegerle, who managed nine goals in 53 games up front for Coventry City. Wegerle played for five different English clubs including Chelsea before the creation of the Premier League. A whole host of top players from across the pond have graced the top-flight and that relationship looks set to continue into the future.