Football, or more accurately soccer, is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States of America.
Attendances to Major League Soccer games are on the rise and with the likes of England captain Steven Gerrard, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard and two-time UEFA Champions League winner Andrea Pirlo all joining up with team in the States this summer there is now plenty of talent on show in the world of soccer.
However, the USA national team have won the CONCACAF Gold Cup five times, got to the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2002 and finished ahead of England in the group stages of the World Cup in South Africa. Therefore the Americans, despite their love for baseball, basketball and the NFL, must have produced some good soccer players of their own down the years.
Loveaflutter takes a look at five USA Soccer players and their achievements.
“Who needs Cantona, when we’ve got Wegerle.” Was the chant that used to echo from the stands at Highfield Road in the mid-1990s as Wegerle turned out for Coventry City in the Premier League. The South African-born forward represented the USA 41 times, scoring seven goals and was renowned for his jinking runs. He started off his soccer career at Tampa Bay Rowdies, but moved to England to play for host of clubs such as Chelsea, Swindon Town, Luton Town and Blackburn, but his most successful spells came playing for the Sky Blues and Queen’s Park Rangers. Since his retirement, in 1998, Wegerle has been trying to make it as a professional golfer.
Soccer in the USA has a history of producing good goalkeepers. From Kasey Keller, who turned out for Leicester City to current Everton shot stopper Tim Howard, the men between the sticks for the USA national team have generally been up to the task. However, Friedel is arguably the best. He has represented some of the best clubs in England, including Liverpool, Aston Villa and Tottenham as well as spending time with Turkish giants Galatasaray. He was also the keeper in the USA team when they reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2002.
Born in New Jersey, Reyna played for some of the best clubs across Europe. He started his soccer career at Bayer Leverkusen and made 26 appearances for them between 1994 and 1999. He then moved on to play for Rangers, Sunderland and Manchester City. He is regarded as one of the best creative midfielder the USA soccer game has produced.
Widely-regarded as the best American soccer player, Donovan also started his career at Bayer Leverkusen. He has represented his country 157 times at full international level and scored 57 goals. He had successful spells on loan at Bayern Munich and Everton as well as scoring record of more than 100 goals for LA Galaxy.
Still playing soccer at Seattle Sounders, Dempsey also has a formidable scoring record. He netted a crucial goal in the 2010 World Cup against England, with the help of a slip by Rob Green and also found the net regularly for Fulham between 2007 and 2012. That earned him a move to Tottenham where he scored seven goals from midfield in one season before moving to Seattle.