In the second iteration of the Yanks Are Coming “Top 23” series, the staff here at TYAC remains fairly settled regarding which players comprise the most important contributors to the USMNT, with most of the main contributers carrying over from the previous list. Only four players differ from the previous list of 23, though the rankings of those nineteen players on the previous list have changed significantly.
The list’s most dramatic changes might occur over the next few months, as the January camp will bring in numerous fresh faces and the Olympic qualifying schedule will bring to the forefront several talented, younger players. Now is the perfect time to analyze our veteran players, enabling us to examine our biggest needs going into the next World Cup qualifying cycle.
Without further delay, here are the TYAC November/December player rankings(previous rankings are in parentheses, average ranking follows):
1) Tim Howard(1) (Everton, EPL)-1.29- No need for any explanation here. He is still the rock and will be between the sticks for the USMNT for a while, save for any truly unfortunate circumstance.
2) Clint Dempsey(2) (Fulham, EPL)-1.86- Some interesting words this week from former number one keeper, Brad Friedel, caused some debate. The subject: the accomplishments of Clint Dempsey in comparison with the best known American player, Landon Donovan. The votes from the contributors at TYAC are in and, at least for the moment, there’s little doubt as to which player means more to the national team. It’s Deuce.
3) Landon Donovan (3) (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS) -3.29- No change in Donovan’s ranking, although the distance between the third and fourth spot shrank noticeably this go-around. He’s still the most popular player on the American squad and his recent MLS Cup has only added to his resume. Here’s to hoping he ‘mans up’ and goes abroad in January, should MLS entertain offers for Donovan’s services (I might be alone in this sentiment).
4) Michael Bradley (8) (Chievo Verona, Serie A)-4.71- One of the biggest risers in this month’s rankings, MB90 reasserted himself as a core member of the squad during the European trip. He showed himself to be more adept and efficient than Maurice Edu at pushing forward from a central midfield spot and he reinforced his nickname.
5) Carlos Bocanegra (9) (Glasgow Rangers, SPL)-6.14- A rebound of sorts, the captain’s trip to France & Slovenia resulted in a jump in the rankings. While the defense endured a big struggle to maintain a lead against Slovenia, he seems to be the steady Eddie that will start alongside either Clarence Goodson or Gooch for the foreseeable future.
6) Jozy Altidore (6) (AZ Alkmaar, Holland)-6.43- Jozy finally scored his first goal of the Klinsmann era with a PK against Slovenia. He continues to find the back of the net for AZ Alkmaar. As the top true striker for the USMNT, Jozy’s going to stay high on the list.
7) Timothy Chandler (7) (Nuremburg, Bundesliga)-7- Chandler is still the best option we have at left back (at least until Eric Lichaj gets healthy).
8) Steve Cherundolo (5) (Hannover 96, Bundesliga)-7.14- There’s been a noticeable drop in the quality of Cherundolo’s play since the start of this summer’s Gold Cup. It pains me to say that we may have seen the best of the aging Dolo’s play in a US kit.
9) Brek Shea (4) (FC Dallas, MLS)-7.9- An even bigger drop than Cherundolo, Brek no longer seems to be the revelation for the USMNT on the left side. Part of this probably has to do with the fact that he appears worn down from the ridiculously intense schedule he’s endured over the past few months. Another part of this drop likely results from the emergence of Fabian Johnson during the Slovenia match. I have no doubt Brek will be an important player for the United States going forward, but he is not the only option that we have (and he might not even be the best option).
10) Maurice Edu (9) (Glasgow Rangers, SPL)-11.14- Edu did not have a particularly fantastic trip to the European mainland, but he’s still one of our best options in the middle of the pitch. He’s versatile, athletic, and is getting regular playing time with Rangers.
11) Clarence Goodson (18) (Brondby IF, Denmark)-13.71- One of the biggest risers in our rankings, Goodson benefited from a slight knock to Oguchi Onyewu and played well in the starting role. More importantly for one of the only Yanks captaining a side overseas, kudos to his wife and him for their wildly entertaining appearance on House Hunters International which I saw for the first time this week.
12) Oguchi Onyewu (12) (Sporting, Portugal)-14.14- Gooch does not move in this week’s rankings, but it would have been nice to see him play for the USMNT in the November friendlies. He did, however, score a nice goal off of a set piece for Sporting Lisbon this week.
13) Fabian Johnson (NR) (TSG 1899 Hoffenhem, Bundesliga)-15.29- Johnson made his first appearance in an American jersey and proved to be both active and dangerous (earning the penalty that Jozy scored).
14) Kyle Beckerman (15) (Real Salt Lake, MLS)-15.43- Many of the fans have not been impressed with Beckerman’s play of late, but Jurgen seems willing to give him a chance in the starting eleven. Well, at least to the point where he insists on starting him. Until that changes, he’ll likely hover around the number fifteen ranking on our list.
15) Jermaine Jones (13) (Schalke, Bundesliga)-15.86- Jones came on as a sub during both of the November friendlies. While he doesn’t seem to be the first option for Klinsmann, I expect him to continue to figure prominently in the rotation and, despite his age, he definitely has the potential to take Beckerman’s place in the future.
16) Sacha Kljestan (15) (Anderlecht, Belgium)-16.29- Sacha wasn’t called up for the November friendlies, but with Jose Torres struggling with his health, the TYAC staff still think he’s one of our better creative options in the middle of the field.
17) Omar Gonzalez (NR) (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS)-16.71- The Yanks Are Coming staff is speaking loudly and clearly. Bring the talented LA Galaxy central defender into the mix, Jurgen. Now. Leave Orazco Fiscal at home. Puhhlleeaassseee.
18) Bill Hamid (17) (DC United, MLS)-17.57- This goalkeepr is young and inexperienced, but he’s athletic as hell and he’s gotten regular playing time. Right now he is pretty much all we have got.
19) Danny Williams (14) (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Bundesliga)-19.29- Danny dropped a bit after these last few friendlies. His impact on the games were minimal and it seems like he may need a little more time to figure out where he can best help out the squad. I am for moving him to a central role, though he did well to hold down the left back spot after Chandler was subbed out against Slovenia.
20) Juan Agudelo (11) (New York Red Bulls, MLS)-20.29- The past few months haven’t been kind to the wonderkid. He plays for an idiot coach who has yet to understand that he can substitute players in the middle of a match. As a result, he has not gotten time on the pitch and Jurgen did not call him in to the most recent camp. Let’s hope for Agudelo’s sake something changes with his club situation.
21) Brad Guzan (NR) (Aston Villa, EPL)-22.14- Finally, Brad got a break when Shay Given was injured a few weeks ago. Brad got his first start of the season for Aston Villa on Saturday and managed to make some nice saves en route to a 2-1 win over Bolton. Perhaps now he will merit the attention of Klinsmann?
22) Herculez Gomez (22) (Santos Laguna, Mexican Primera)-24.14- Why is Gomez getting love from TYAC? Because he is scoring for his club team, something the USMNT had been failing to do until the Slovenia match.
23) Edson Buddle (NR) (Ingolstadt 04, Bundesliga 2nd Division)-25- Speaking of goal scorers, Edson’s nice volley against Slovenia earns him the final spot in this iteration of our top 23, and deservedly so.
Agree, disagree? See glaring omissions. Comments welcome.
Those just missing the cut: Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City, English Championship (Previously 23, 26.14), Alejandro Bedoya (Glasgow Rangers, SPL) (Previously 19, 27.29) Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake, MLS) (Not Ranked, 27.86)
Garrett McInnis writes about the USMNT and Americans Abroad for The Yanks Are Coming. You can follow him on twitter at @captainmcinnis.