So asks Brent Latham at ESPN. His list: Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride, Tab Ramos, Brad Friedel, Bert Patenaude.
* Patenaude is the guy who scored 4 goals in 3 games at the first World Cup ever in 1930 to help the US finish 3rd behind Uruguay and Argentina. He apparently also had 34 goals in 31 games in 1931. If we actually knew something about him, it seems we might have to consider picking him.
As for the rest of the list:
* Brian McBride? McBride is solid, but it’s impossible to make a case for him as one of the best of all time.
* Brad Friedel. Reasonable choice, but I doubt very many people will pick a netminder.
Who Latham missed:
* Bruce Murray. It’s somewhat hard to make a case for him either, but he was the leading US scorer of all time when I was growing up, with a mere 21 international goals…sure makes you appreciate Landon Donovan, doesn’t it?
* Eric Wynalda. Was the all-time goal scorer for the US after Murray until Donovan. Tempermental, but crucial to the program’s growth in the 90s.
* Landon Donovan. To be honest, there is little doubt that Landon has been the best US Men’s National Team Player of all time, and it’s not close. Whether he is the best of all time depends on how you rate club accomplishments.
* John O’Brien. You obviously can’t pick him, but in his prime he was a starting midfielder for Ajax, back when Ajax was a bigger club in Europe. His career was ruined by injuries, but he may have had the highest peak of any American in the one year where he was healthy.
* Interestingly, Tab Ramos was born in Uruguay, where he lived until he was 11, so while he played for the US National Team, he would be an import. Claudio Reyna’s father was an Argentine who arrived in the US five years before Claudio was born.
Who would I pick? Ramos was pretty awesome in the day. Reyna obviously had the best club career, but had lots of injury problems. Overall, though, I have to take Landon Donovan.