Photo by ISI Photos
The U.S. national team is about to embark on a grueling series of road games in the coming weeks and months that should go a long way toward testing and improving the current national team pool. With games in Poland, England and Spain now confirmed, U.S. players will have plenty of chances to show what they can do in hostile environments.
That upcoming slate of games made me think about how American players have done on the road in recent years. I couldn’t help but wonder what players have done well on the road and what players haven’t. After spending some time with the U.S. Soccer fact book I was able to uncover some rather interesting statistics.
Here are the scoring leader rankings for American players in national team games outside the United States since 2003 (a total of 27 road games):
USA road goal leaders since 2003
- Eddie Johnson———–3
- DaMarcus Beasley——-3
- Carlos Bocanegra——–2
- Steve Cherundolo——-2
- Clint Dempsey———–2
- Landon Donovan——– 2
- Eddie Lewis————- 2
The one name on that list that was a bit surprising to me for not being at the top of the list is Mr. Donovan, the U.S. national team’s all-time scoring leader. In 18 games outside the U.S. since 2003, Donovan has managed two goals (one against Grenada in 2004 and one against Panama in 2005).
Is this an indictment of Donovan? That’s for you to decide. While goals never tell the whole story of a player’s value, I do think it is interesting that of Donovan’s U.S. record 35 goals, exactly four of them have come away from U.S. soil.
If you are wondering how that scoring rate compares to other players, you are not alone. I decided to take a look at Eric Wynalda’s goal totals to see how he fared. Here is a breakdown:
Of Wynalda’s 34 career U.S. national team goals, a total of eight were scored outside the United States. Of the eight, four were scored in neutral sites (including three at the 1995 Copa America). That leaves four road goals in his career (They came against Morocco,Liechtenstein, Ireland and China for those wondering).
On one hand you can point to Wynalda having twice as many away goals as Donovan, but you could also argue that Wynalda never scored a road World Cup qualifier or a World Cup goal outside of the United States (yes, apologies Eric for initially forgetting your World Cup ’94 goal).
So what does this all mean? I suppose it can mean what you want it to mean. As I have said, goals don’t tell the whole story of a player’s worth, but the fact that Donovan has 31 home goals and four away goals is an interesting statistic, as is the fact that Johnson has more road goals (three) in almost half fewer road games (10 to Donovan’s 18 games) than Donovan in the past five years.
What do you think? Do the stats show that Donovan’s stats are bloated by being racked up against weaker opponents? Are the stats misleading because Donovan has had some great road performances without goals to show for them? Is DaMarcus Beasley a more valuable player than he’s given credit for being?
Share your thoughts below.