With a semifinals appearance in the 1930 World Cup and a 1-0 victory against England in the 1950 tournament, the United States failed to qualify for every World Cup until 1990. The team has participated in eight World Cups since then. Here are some of the best players to have helped the USMNT’s get to where it is today.
The captain of the United States national soccer team, Michael Bradley has enjoyed a stellar international career. A versatile player that can play various midfield positions, he’s clocked over 140 games with the team, winning the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup with his father Bob Bradley as coach. He also played in 2 World Cups, helping the USA team to the round of 16 in 2010 South Africa and 2014 Brazil.
The linchpin of the American defense, Marcelo Balboa is the first USMNT player to earn 100 caps and one of 3 players to participate in 3 World Cups. He retired from the Stars and Stripes after 2000 with 13 goals.
The teenage starlet has yet to play in a World Cup for the US, but there’s no doubting he’s one of the most talented Americans ever to wear the kit. The attacking midfielder has scored nine goals in his 21 appearances with the national side.
From Nacogdoches, Texas, Clint Dempsey has secured his name in USMNT folklore by scoring some key World Cups, including one of the fastest ones ever against the Ghana side in the 2014 World Cup. A fierce competitor, Dempsey has scored 57 goals for the national team in 141 appearances. He remains the USMNT’s top-scorer, tied with forward Landon Donovan.
One of the most celebrated American soccer players of all-time, Landon Donovan played 157 games for the USMNT making him the second most-capped in team history. He’s also the only American player to achieve both 50 assists and 50 goals for the side, tied with Clint Dempsey with the most-scored goals at 57. Despite his contributions in 2002, 2006, and 2010 World Cups, he fell short in making the Brazil 2014 World Cup roster.
The forward Eric Wynalda played for the USMNT for a decade, making 106 appearances, and scoring 34 goals. He’s one of the few American players including Tab Ramos and Marcelo Balboa to have played in 3 World Cups from 1990 – 2000.
Alexi Lalas earned nearly 100 caps for the USMNT side, starring at the 1994 World Cup hosted stateside. Along with his signature goatee and red locks, the 6’3 defender leveraged his physical prowess and endurance to become one of the most noteworthy national players of all-time.
At the heart of the US midfield, Claudio Reyna played in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups. On the 1994 roster, he failed to play due to injury. Given his strong international club experience at Leverkusen, Rangers, and Manchester City, Reyna became one of the US’s most technically gifted players before nagging injuries slowed him down. He earned 112 caps with the US side, along with scoring eight goals.
The imperious goalie Tim Howard played 15 years with the national side, earning 121 caps. He will forever be remembered for his incredible performance against Belgium in the 2014 round of 16 where he broke the record for World Cup saves in a match with 15. However, the US fell to Belgium 2-1.
The 5th all-time scorer for the USMNT side, Brian McBride played nearly 100 caps. The striker participated in 3 World Cups, most notably pushing the US side into the quarterfinals in the 2002 team before losing to Germany. Known for challenging head balls, his warrior ethos was on full display when Italian Daniele De Rossi bloodied his face in the 2006 World Cup.
One of the longest-serving USMNT players, DeMarcus Beasley has played in 4 World Cups and won 4 CONCACAF Gold Cups. The speedy left-winger is one of two other American players to play in 4 World Cups including Claudio Reyna and Kasey Keller. Beasley has played in 126 games for the Red, White, and Stripes, scoring 17 goals.