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SBI Reader Poll: Who was the best American Abroad this season?



With the European and Mexican club seasons winding to a close, it is time to look back at the Americans who enjoyed the best seasons playing abroad.

The contingent of Americans Abroad may have lost a bunch of star power in recent years with the likes of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley moving back to MLS, but there still remains a sizable presence of Americans plying their trades, and thriving in foreign leagues.

From Fabian Johnson helping Borussia Moenchengladbach secure a place in the UEFA Champions League to Geoff Cameron helping Stoke City finish in the top half of the English Premier League and Alfredo Morales anchoring FC Ingolstadt’s promotion to the German Bundesliga, there were plenty of good success stories.

Our question for you today is this: Which American playing abroad do you think had the best season in 2014/2015? Cast your vote for SBI Americans Abroad Player of the Year after the jump:

[polldaddy poll=8884655]


Who did you vote for? Was there a player you felt should have made the ballot that didn’t? What Americans Abroad player surprised you the most this year? Who are you looking forward to seeing next season?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I’ll go with Johnson. He’s in a top 2 league and broke into a UCL squad. I’ve seen him play for club and he’s performed better there than in a national team jersey. Also it seems he has racked up a lot of assists in 2015.

  2. 1. Howard – still the best across the pond
    2a. Johnson – roled thru adversity early on re-established starting spot with Champions League spot!
    2b. Bedoya – earned capt’n and starting role
    4. Alvarado – earned starting spot on Club America & US, CCL winner
    5a. Brooks – roled thru adversity early on re-established starting spot
    5b. Morales – earned big role with top bundesliga2 side
    5c. Cameron – consistent EPL minutes
    5d. Chandler – consistent bundesliga minutes, had some big assists
    9. Johannsson – good finish to the season
    10. Rubin – broke into national team and club team

  3. Fabian Johnson played a vital part, albeit in the second half of the season, in helping his team get to the Champions league. That’s who I voted for, and yeah, I hardly saw him on TV for his club team this year. That’s fine because for me, following and judging American national team players abroad is a pretty recent thing for those of us who have been following American Soccer since the late 1980’s. And to me, it’s about an American playing a part in getting his team to the highest level his club can achieve.

    It’s fine.

  4. Some years players stand out–Dempsey’s 17/22 at Fulham, Altidore’s 31 at AZ. I don’t think there was any real outstanding American this year. I have no idea who I would vote for and, frankly, it’s not terribly important. The best part is reading the comments.

    • true. some good years from Bedoya & Johnson but no exciting goalscorers like Dempsey, Altidore, McBride, others..

      looking forward to more Bundesliga on tv next year and hopefully more from the younger gen of YA

  5. On one hand, you have a player that helped his team qualify for the Champions League in the Bundesliga. On the other, you have another player that has been consistent with a mid-table French club and has gotten inquiries about his services in the EPL and Bundesliga. Gave my vote to Fabian over Bedoya because I figured it’s probably more difficult to start in a Champions League-bound team and kudos that he stepped up in the latter stages of BM’s campaign. Ah, if only we had more players like them. It’d make the conversation more interesting…

    • And on your third hand, you have the guy who outperformed both of them consistently throughout the season.

      And he’s only 22!

      • It’s pretty hard for me to assess JAB since his club is a bit close toward the bottom, even though it may not be his fault for that. He should look to play for other clubs next season if Hertha do the same or worse than this year.

  6. Morales makes the decision to drop a league, against Klinsmann’s advice, to leave his boyhood Hertha. That decision looks brilliant now, as he is a major reason that Ingolstadt have been promoted to the Bundesliga by taking first place in the 2 Bundesliga. I mean, Ingolstadt were in Oberliga Bayern (division 4?) 10 years ago for their first season – and this is no Hoffenheim mega splurge!

  7. To me, the outcome of this vote is startlingly misguided so far. Fabian Johnson took more than half of the season to even nail down a spot in his team, and he really only had a few very good games. They just all happened to be at the very end of the season. Bedoya was again solid, if unspectacular, this year.

    However, I think the clear winner of this poll should be John Brooks. He started almost every game and was on the Bundesliga best XI a number of times. Hertha was not a great team this year but their defense wasn’t half bad and Brooks was the clear standout for them. 3% of the vote for Brooks is criminal.

  8. For me, it was all about the (current) top 3: Bedoya, Johnson and Morales…if Brooks hadn’t been out for a large portion of the season then he’d be in the conversation, for sure.

  9. Cesar Romero. Scored 20 goals in Armenian Premier League. still has a few games left. and theyve already clinched league title and entry into 1st round of champions league qualifiers.

  10. While some want to spin it as a negative, I see Fabian gaining a starting spot on a soon to be Champions league side as the most impressive accomplishment. Yes, other players started more consistently but that’s bound to be easier at smaller clubs.

    • Yeah, I have to agree with this. Bedoya is a fine choice – he’s had a great season. But being on the outs early and then fighting your way back to cementing a role as a key cog in a Champions League team is incredibly impressive. He went from being ignored to making himself impossible to ignore. Hats off to FabJo.

  11. I’ve frequented this site and others long enough to know how the MAJORITY of US fans work. The logic goes something like this:

    1. Which player plays for a team in a league with the highest “prestige”? What team from that league does he play on?
    2. Is he a starter or at least sometime starter?
    3. He is the best then! It doesn’t matter that I really haven’t seen the other options.

    I bring that up because the vast majority of the people voting have really only seen the EPL guys (Cameron, Guzan, Howard) and the league Mex guy due to what’s available for us on tv. And don’t come at with “I’ve seen then all consistently”, you are either lying or are one of the small exceptions.

    • So, people have different criteria than you? God forbid!
      Did you write the book on this subject and what makes your opinion better that other’s?

      • Rob as usual you are missing the point. Not a shocker here when it comes to you. The point is that people form opinions on players that they haven’t even seen play for their clubs! How can you answer the question, “who was the best?” when you only saw a few of the options actually play for their clubs? The opinions in that case are almost irrelevant.

        Since people didn’t really get to see the majority of these players play for their clubs, they are likely just basing it off of USMNT appearances.

      • So, people have different criteria than you? God forbid!
        Did you write the book on this subject and what makes your opinion better that other’s?

      • Common sense makes my opinion better. Basically I am saying that to decide which tastes better between two plates of food, you have to sample both of them. And the majority of people on this site have only sampled one of the plates.

      • Even if you did watch them, you’d still have to take into account the level in which a player is at. Ream might look great in the Championship, but does that mean he would look just as good in Bundesliga? There still an element of judgement being made based the assumptions of what’s the highest level.

      • Yea but if you get to watch a player play a lot you get a good idea of how good they are and what they are good at and not good at. It’s called the “eyeball-test”. It is the same as how scouting works. So it really wouldn’t matter what team or league a player plays in, you would be able to see who has been the better performer, and since you saw many of the games for all the players, you would be able to determine who was the more valuable player to their team. None of this, “i haven’t really seen them all play but this guy is probably better because he plays in the EPL or Bundesliga”.

      • It’s a fan poll on the SBI website. It’s just a way for the editors to get us fans involved with their articles. Nobody outside of the people who read SBI care about this vote. Don’t take it so seriously..

      • Don’t take it so seriously!?! Now you tell me. I’ve been out all week canvassing my neighborhood with “vote Cameron for SBI’s American Abroad player of the year poll” pamphlets.

    • Sorry for all the typos. This site has become really dysfunctional on Chrome (at least for me) and jumps up and down (by jump I mean it skips/scrolls up and down quickly to where ever the video ads are playing from) to the point where I have to type my comment without actually seeing what I am writing, since the comment box is not even on the screen.

      • You’ve gotta turn off Adobe Flash. This site – and a lot of others – are unreadable without it.

        I use Firefox instead of Chrome usually, but find your add-ons, click on the Flash player, and turn autoplay OFF. Your problems will be gone, instantly.

      • Bryan, that doesn’t go against my point at all. I am confident in guessing that Bedoya and FJ are probably two of the least watched American players playing abroad (by American fans).

        My point isn’t that they shouldn’t be considered the best. My point is that this whole exercise should be taken with a grain of salt because of everything I have stated in the other posts.

        FJ is number 1 in the pole. Most here don’t have GOL TV and even if you do, you only get to see maybe one or two Bundesliga games on that channel a week (no guarantee it was a Gladbach game). I guarantee you the logic here was, “well i haven’t really seen him or the others play much but Gladbach qualified for the Champions League and he starts for them so he must be the best”.

      • Is that logic so bad? Besides, we’re picking soccer players (and without a coach’s responsibility to live with his picks); not electing the next president. What’s wrong with a little casual fan logic?

      • Besides, the question was ‘best season,’ not ‘best player.’ A guy starting for a team that made Champions League is a contender for ‘best season.’

      • That logic rewards the teams performance more than the players performance. We could ask the question, “Does Gladbach still make the Champions League without F. Johnson?” We will never know, but the answer is likely yes in my opinion. F. Johnson didn’t start for much of the season. When he finally won the starting job, he would still almost always get subbed out and replaced by the same player that he was in fierce competition with all season. A very good sign that there wasn’t much between the two players.

    • I don’t agree with your overall critique. Getting regular playing time in a top-quality league is perhaps one of the best ways to judge a player’s overall performance vis a vis other players, especially in lesser leagues when they get lesser playing time. The competition for playing time at higher levels of the game is constant. If the manager who sees the player day-in-and-day out continues to use him, that’s a strong sign that his performance is strong. Its certainly a better arbiter than armchair pundits watching games on television, which literally present a limited picture. If the team does well with the player playing, that’s another good sign of a meaningful contribution. So are statistics and other metrics. It also depends on what your definitions are. Player A might have a normally good year, but you might rate Player B in a lower league as having a “better” year based on improvement or importance to the team. I’m not dismissing eyeballs as one source of information at all. But you can have an informed opinion even if you have not regularly seen a tv broadcast involving a given player.

  12. WTH!!
    How is it that Geoff is not higher on the list!!! He consistently faces some if the worlds most dangerous mids and strikers plus consistent minutes. This has to a popular vote thing.

    • “This has to a popular vote thing.”

      It is more of a “facts thing”.

      Cameron’s minutes this season are down ( 11 fewer appearances across all competitions and no goals versus 2 goals) from last season. He started it by losing his job to Phil Bardsley, an ex Sunderland player just to increase the humiliation.

      “He consistently faces some if the worlds most dangerous mids and strikers plus consistent minutes.”

      And how has he fared when he faces those “dangerous mids and strikers”? Not all that great.

      It has been a down season for Geoff who can do better. Call it World Cup hangover.

      • This is really a comparison of apples to kumquats there is no”fair” way to compare. Keeper saves and positioning versus the creative moments of F. Fohnson, AJ or Bedoya has no metric for comparison. About all one can do is judge players on the quality of their team and on the importance of their play to the success of that team. Injuries eliminate some from contention in that regard and only FJ and Bedoya are players whose teams would arguably miss them terribly if they were absent.

    • Just because someone plays in the Premier League doesn’t mean he’s good. Also, I rate La Liga and the Bundesliga as the top two leagues.

  13. I remember that after the World Cup in 2002 I thought that with the exponential growth of the game, within the next 10-15 years we would one of the world’s better teams (ie top ten), with at least a couple players playing for elite teams and at least one legitimate superstar.

    Well, I’d take McBride over Altidore, Reyna over Bradley, Pope over Gonzalez, Jones over Zusi, and ’02 Donovan or O’Brien over anyone we’ve had since, including Dempsey.

    If you take out the dual-nationals (not produced in the US), that list is just absolutely depressing. We’re left with Bedoya, who looks mediocre when playing for the NT, utility man Geoff Cameron, and Tim Ream–who plays in the Championship. Sure, Guzan and Howard are great, but arguably a step down from Keller and Friedel. I think it’s safe to say that the progress we’ve made since then has been quite disappointing.

      • True, but our best aren’t any better…they’re actually worst. Which I’ve found incredibly surprising.

    • If you were as old as me, you would still be amazed to see USMNT qualify for the World Cup finals. I remember Caliguri’s shot heard around the world, and couldn’t believe we were actually going. Now, we’re in a position where no one is shocked when we not only qualify but also play out of group – which puts us somewhere around 16th in the world. No one was too shocked a couple World Cups ago when we won the group over England. And we’re good enough now that with the right first knockout round opponent, we can advance without a fluke result. But when you get past that, into the final eight, well you are butting heads with real soccer nations. We’ll get there eventually but it will take a lot of additional youth development – maybe another couple decades.

      • Except that the players on the 1990 team grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s, in an era when soccer was literally nonexistent in the US. Our national team now consists of players who grew up in the 1990’s and 2000’s, by which point soccer was the most popular sport among American youth.

        If we were able to produce players like Reyna, Donovan, McBride, and O’Brien back then (and even Lalas, Ramos, Harkes, Moore, etc. before them), why are our players nowadays not leaps and bounds better? They grew up on a different planet as far as soccer is concerned in this country.

      • It is very difficult to compare players from different eras. That being said, countries often have periods where they produce a great group at one time. Maybe that was our Golden Generation,.Also, while that group performed well in 2002, a lot of those same players did not do well in 1998 or 2006 and only McBride and Reyna had distinguished careers in club football in Europe and Dempsey surpassed McBride. And you can argue that Bradley did as well in Europe as did Reyna. You may be right, but it is hard to tell.

      • Check out reyna’s career. Started out overseas in the Bundesliga to some mid table teams. Hardly played one year, played a lot for 3 years, captained his team, then went to Rangers. Then Sunderland and finally Man City. Man city back then was usually a team around 10th to 13th or so in the table; they were very undistinguished. Ranger, even at its peak, were equivalent to a mid-table EPL team. Bradley started out in Holland and one year scored about 20 goals, then went to the Bundesliga, a mid-table team. His mid-season loan to Astopn Villa was forgettable, but he was excellent at Chievo and his firsg year at Roma. He was starting to begin his second year at Roma when he got injured in a US qualifier and lost his job. Because I think Roma was the best team that either Bradley or Reyna played on and that Bradley was a starter, that is why I put him ahead of Reyna. They are obviously different types of players, so it’s a close call, in my mind

      • M’bach was not a mid-table team when Bradley started there, they were constantly fighting relegation. They started competing for Europe after he left (when he was unceremoniously released). Villa only played him twice if I remember correctly. Chievo was also a bottom-feeder Italian team.

        Reyna, on the other hand, played at bigger teams in the Bundesliga than Bradley did, and was one of the most important players for Rangers and City when he played there. He was also the first American player to wear the armband overseas, and did so at three different clubs. Bradley was never a key player anywhere the way that Reyna was for his teams.

        Let’s also not forget that since Bradley got benched at Roma and moved back to the MLS he hasn’t been the same. He covered lots of ground but was probably the worst performing player we had in Brazil (aside from Davis and Wondo). Reyna, on the other hand, was team of the tournament in ’02, and while ’98 and ’06 were failures, that was due to coaching.

        I’m not trying to argue that Reyna was all that much better than Bradley is, it’s just that when I watched Reyna in ’02, I thought that my generation’s Reyna was going to be playing at a top-tier club, not Toronto FC.

      • Dempsey had a great career in Europe, but he never was for the national team what Landon was in ’02. I was comparing McBride to Altidore. But again, Dempsey is old, and is more the generation of ’06. And none of the attacking midfielders of the current generation (Bedoya and Zusi, for example) are at his level.

        I agree about the golden generation, but those golden generations usually come around for a reason. In Germany’s case, it’s because of the changes implemented to the German youth system in the mid 00’s (Klinsmann was a big part of this, although to what extent is debatable). In Spain’s case, it’s because of the dominance of La Masia (thanks to Cruyff coming over the in 90’s).

        If we look at the US, this should be our golden generation. The players in their prime now grew up in an era where soccer is the most commonly played sport among youth and we have a full-fledged professional league and academy system. The conditions are light years ahead of what Reyna and Ramos (and even Donovan and Dempsey) grew up in. And our top Americans abroad are Alejandro Bedoya and Geoff Cameron…frankly, I’ve been surprised and disappointed.

      • A bunch of the American players from 2002 were dual nationals (Reyna, Ramos, Stewart, etc) or had special circumstances (i.e., Joe-Max Moore’s father owned a NASL team). Your argument that U.S. Soccer is producing fewer top quality players holds no water because there is no past era to which one can fairly compare the current era with it’s MLS academies.

      • Reyna and Ramos are NOT dual nationals. They are first generation immigrants produced in the US. Huge difference between them and Stewart, Jones, Johnson, etc.

        My argument is that if in the 80’s and 90’s, before we even had a professional league, if we could produce players like Ramos, Reyna, McBride, Donovan, etc., how come we can’t produce players of that quality nowadays, when soccer is the most played sport in the US and we have a professional league and academy system?

      • The most popular sport among American youth?

        Well, I’m not sure that getting packed up in a car three times a week for U-little practices and games, and never otherwise touching a ball, compares to the youth experiences in Germany and Brazil.

      • What happens to most of the better athletes by the time they outgrow U-little and get seen by school athletic personnel? Maybe not most; I might have overstated that. But a lot will jump ship into the sports that have cheerleaders, bands and attendance.

        It sounds odd to say soccer is the most popular youth sport when we’ve all seen the comparative differences between school basketball/football attendance and school soccer attendance.

      • The US will not consistently have international soccer stars until the kids who started playing soccer in the late 90s begin having children of their own and those children reach their late teens and early 20s. That would make it around 2030 and after before there will be a huge number of players whose parents played and understood the game fairly well. It will be a generation after that before the US can really be considered a super power. It is all about what kids learn from their parents and that takes generations, not merely a couple decades.

      • Excellent post. This is the main reason, I think. We won’t start producing better players until our parents and coaches are more soccer literate. And those of this generation are not. The other big change is that toddlers and kids need to start playing pickup soccer obsessively, as it is in any other country.

      • First of all, the whole “we need better athletes” argument is not a strong one, considering the fact that the best national team of all time (Spain from 08-12) was full of players who would be considered small and slow.

        Second, while it may be true that soccer is played too recreationaly among youths in the US, the environment is much, much riper than it was during Reyna’s time. Back then, hardly anyone played it (and next to no one watched it on TV), and there was no professional league or academy system. This generation grew up playing and watching soccer and had a professional league and academy system to work there way up, but they’re not any better.

  14. Bedoya easily, Johnson was glued to the bench for the first half of the season and he hasn’t ben consistent enough, also considering the stature of his team his numbers aren’t that great.

  15. I’m going with Bedoya over Fabian Johnson only because Bedoya seemed to perform more consistently thoughout the entire year. Fabian struggled to make the field early in the season, but I think his strong run of games at the end was impressive.

    • Nantes is a middle of the table team, which factoring in where they came from isn’t terrible. Johnson plays on a team that qualified for Champions League. Besides, while Bedoya is a fine player, in general there is no comparison between him and Johnson, who is one of the better field players USMNT has ever had.

  16. This poll is a competition to determine who comes in second place to Tim Howard. Right? Or does plugging along as Everton’s clear No. 1 for another season in the EPL not count anymore because of boredom? He’s the best American player in Europe, yet again. He may have stepped back from the USMNT for the year, but he hasn’t lost his citizenship.


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