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Dempsey, Donovan and Bradley headline SBI’s USMNT All-Decade Team

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The end of the current decade will bring to a close an U.S. Men’s National Team era that had its share of painful moments, but also plenty of good ones delivered by some of the best USMNT players in history.

We are in the midst of a generational shift with the USMNT, and that shift becomes all the more apparent when you stop to think about the top performers of the past decade. There are a few players in SBI’s USMNT all-Decade team who still have roles on the current national team, but recent years have seen the retirements and gradual departures of several key figures.

The SBI USMNT All-Decade team was chosen based strictly on performances with the national team, and while some picks were extremely easy to make, there were also some very tough calls. Some players were chosen despite not having compiled as many total game played as their competitors, but those who delivered memorable performances and tournaments on big stages earned nods over those who may have logged more games played, but didn’t have the same level of peak performances.

Who were the best USMNT performers of the past decade? Here is SBI’s USMNT All-Decade Team:

Tim Howard

The unforgettable performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup stands out as Howard’s masterpiece, but he provided much more than that during the past decade. A starter in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, Howard compiled 73 appearances in the decade, posting a 33-23-13 during that time, with 23 shutouts.

DeAndre Yedlin

A surprise inclusion on the 2014 USMNT World Cup team, Yedlin parlayed the good impression he made in Brazil into a transfer to Tottenham, and he has stayed in England ever since. He has made the transition from attack-minded speedster to a more defensively-solid right back who is the favorite to start in the position in the next World Cup qualifying cycle.

Geoff Cameron

Though his exit from the USMNT picture was an acrimonious one, there is no denying the credentials he put together during a solid stretch in a starting role. The versatile defender earned starts at right back, centerback and in defensive midfield, and put in good showings at the 2014 World Cup. He made 55 appearances for the USMNT, generating four goals and an assist while logging 4,376 minutes.

John Brooks

There were other centerbacks who played far more games, but no American centerback this decade had a better tournament than Brooks’ Copa America Centenario, or a bigger moment than his game-winning goal against Ghana at the 2014 World Cup. Injuries have limited Brooks to 38 appearances despite being the best American centerback for more than half the decade, but his 2,970 minutes played were generally very impressive.

Fabian Johnson

Another player who played a variety of positions, Johnson slots in at left back on the USMNT All-Decade team even though his peak was actually at right back at the 2014 World Cup. Johnson made 57 appearances for the national team, recording two goals and 11 assists, logging 3,522 minutes in the process.

Michael Bradley

No USMNT player this decade played in more games, logged more minutes or produced more assists than Bradley. The long-time USMNT captain began the decade in style with a standout 2010 World Cup, and has closed out the decade with a Best XI selection in last summer’s Gold Cup.

He made a whopping 112 appearances for the USMNT in the past decade, providing 10 goals and 23 assists in 8,839 minutes. You need only look at the Top 30 USMNT goals of the past decade to appreciate the impact he had over the past 10 years.

Jermaine Jones

A key figure during the Jurgen Klinsmann era, Jones earned his place on the All-Decade team on the strength of his penchant for stepping up in big games.

Jones made 69 appearances for the USMNT in the decade, contributing four goals and eight assists in 5,331 minutes of action. He was one of the team’s best players at the 2014 World Cup, and turned in some memorable outings in Gold Cups and World Cup qualifying.

Landon Donovan

Though the bulk of his main contributions in this decade came at the very start of the decade, it doesn’t take away from just how special he was during that period for the USMNT. His winner against Algeria at the 2010 World Cup was the biggest moment of the decade for the national team, and he also helped lead the Americans to a 2013 Gold Cup title.

His absence from the 2014 World Cup squad will go down as the most controversial decisions of the decade, but he still still finished the decade with an impressive 15 goals and 15 assists in 37 appearances and 2,952 minutes.

Clint Dempsey

The decade’s leading goal-scorer for the USMNT, Dempsey finished with an impressive 40 goals and 14 assists before he retired, including goals in both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Dempsey made 81 appearances for the national team in the past decade, playing a vital role in every major tournament the team played in. He finished with 6,594 minutes played during the past decade, second only to Bradley.

Christian Pulisic

Though he played the fewest minutes in the decade of anybody on the All-Decade team, Pulisic’s 2,268 minutes were memorable. He was easily the team’s most dangerous player in 2017 and 2019, and while he didn’t play much in 2018, he still managed to deliver 14 goals and nine assists in the decade to secure his place on the All-Decade team.

Jozy Altidore

While injuries kept him from being able to play in several major tournament matches, Altidore still managed to put up big numbers in the decade. He is second only to Bradley in total matches played with 92, and his 34 goals scored are second only to Dempsey’s 40.

Altidore also provided 12 assists during his 6,538 minutes in the decade, the third-most minutes logged by any USMNT player over the past 10 years. His goal-scoring run in the 2014 World Cup qualifying cycle, and his free kick beauty in the 2017 Gold Cup final stand as the high points of his decade.

USMNT All-Decade Second Team

Brad Guzan
Steve Cherundolo
Omar Gonzalez
Matt Besler
DaMarcus Beasley
Kyle Beckerman
Alejandro Bedoya
Graham Zusi
Jordan Morris
Bobby Wood
Gyasi Zardes

Comments

  1. i pretty much agree with all these selections. kind of weird seeing yedlin (i might have gone fabian at rb so i could put beasley at lb), but that’s probably fair.

    and the kids will have a problem seeing bradley in there, but i’m sure he doesn’t care what “all the f***ing experts” (in his words) think of him.

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  2. “Bradley apolgists” – picked by every coach he’s ever played for and did his job as consistently as any player to ever pull on the shirt. No one is apologizing for Bradley in real life. That’s fantasy land.

    With all these guys, it’s enormously helpful to have actually *watched them*

    You get these morons who started watching after the Algeria goal and they think the world began in 2010. That and we simply have a younger fan base in general, makes for one of the worst fan bases in general that I have ever seen.

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    • “did his job consistently” – so then move on already. If he was such a professional and had such class, then he would stop blocking the next generation. You Bradley apologists want to make your cake and eat it too. I bet you, if he moved on after 2018, he would be remembered for greatness, instead he was causing his own downfall by keeping more hungry and agile players on the bench or out of position to accommodate his throne.

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  3. I think the negative comments here reflect the reality that since 1986 until about 2016m the USMNT improved nearly continuously in both its technical ability and in its ability to get results in games that matter against strong opponents. (there were a few glaring weaknesses in the 2006 WC team, but with Dempsey, Donavon, Bradley, Onweyu addition, that was just a blip). Sadly those players were not replaced by better players in the middle of the last decade simply because no one rose to the challenge who was any better.

    It is not the players on this list who are at fault for that; the fault lies with the players who were unable to displace them. It is shameful to suggest these guys were anything but worthy of this recognition, even if some of our favorites may have been left out.

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  4. I think leaving Bocanegra and DeMerit off is a real slight to both. They were the best two pure defenders on the USMNT. Bocanegra was flexible and could play either CB or LB while DeMerit simply did his job so well that he was largely invisible, you did not notice hi until you reflected on the fact that no one seemed to be able to attack him effectively, unlike the gaffs Gonzales made with too much regularity.

    Both were at their peaks early in the decade but that is no reason to through them over for newer shinier things who did not prove to be in any way superior.

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    • Demerit only made 8 appearances in the decade and a shockingly low 24 career caps. I think you’re maybe wearing some rose colored glasses as well Jay is a seemingly great guy who played with lunch pail mentality that is lacking recently, but was good for at least one or two misplays a game that his lack of high end athleticism made it hard for him to recover from. As you said none of these guys were bad. Recency bias can work both ways, we haven’t seen Boca and DeMerit play for 8 to 10 years so they must have been better. Jay’s a great story going unstaffed and going to the lowest leagues in England before becoming a fixture at Warford and helping them to a season in EPL but not better than Brooks and Cameron and I’d agree short of Omar and Besler but that’s a matter of preference. Boca just comes down to hardly playing this decade.

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  5. Hmmm id take Bocanegra on the backside of his usmnt career over Cameron.
    Both are responsible for awful WC goals. Id take Boca being out muscled on a 1v1 vs Ghana over Cameron’s Inexcusable ball watching on Portugals goal. More like Ronaldo watching, admiring his look.

    And you have to add Beasley, sorry. Put Fabian at RB and Beasley LB.

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    • Boca’s career was largely in the prior decade. Cameron was entirely in this decade. Cameron had 22 more appearances and a couple more goals. SBI also might have considered that Cameron is a RCB and Boca is a LCB.

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  6. For Bradley: ” Best XI selection in last summer’s Gold Cup.”

    Umm, you know that Don Garber as CEO of SUM and MLS commissioner and Concacaf marketing is in charge of those picks? How can you be best of the tournament if you get destroyed by Mexico for being a traffic cone on defense in the final.

    The Bradley apologists puff ancedotes are tiresome. He choose to suck the latter half of his career. Its time to accept it and move on. worst USMNT captain in history.

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    • Here come the Bradley apologists……

      the guy was making 6 million a year for being nowhere near that talent level. He choose the money in Toronto FC and ran in the second half of his career. He would go all out for Toronto and jog for the USMNT. Fine. good for him. his choice. Its disgusting the amount of ass-skissing the connected soccer reporters are still doing for this guy.

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    • I don’t understand this conspiracy theory that Graber/SUM pumps up Bradley. MLS rarely if ever uses Bradley in their marketing, if TFC is on tv it’s Jozy or Pozuela/Giovinco who is on the banner screen not Bradley. Bradley hasn’t made the all-star team the last two seasons and he’s never been on the MLS Best XI at the end of the year. I looked but couldn’t find an explanation of how the GC XI were determined but my guess would be it was reporters from the region who thought they needed another American and Bradley was a name they knew. It’s time for the US to move on but there’s no conspiracy.

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      • JR- Keeping It Real is always fake!!! His comments are always lame! Doesn’t understand the 6-DM position. Sergio Busquets is regarded as the best 6 in the last decade and he hardly ever sprints or goes to ground. 2014 is when Keeping It Real started paying attention to this sport. There’s a significant part of the US fan base, who are new to the sport. 2014 WC is when they jumped on board. They always put themselves on front street. Keywords ‘Apologist’, ‘Sir Jog’s A lot’, ‘Captain Backwards Pass’ are idioms that let’s everyone know that they are baseball, NFL, or NASCAR fan’s 1st. These Americans are called ‘Euro snobs!’ by IV. …or morons by Rob. They don’t upgrade their thinking when new information is presented. They don’t watch old US matches, to see how Americans have evolved. They’re full conspiracy theories and don’t watch the sport for better understanding! There are at least 10 of them on every site I visit. I respect their stubbornness JR, but you can’t educate or talk logic to a rock!

      • I love it how i cant reply to the poster “its ok 2 think” but I I can reply to yours and everyone elses, Just proves the ass-kissing agenda thats going on to turn check when Bradley is 90 minutes DM for 2022 WCQ and we don’t qualify again. Expect Bradley to be the Core of the 2022 World Cup Qulaifying and we miss it agai (though I hope I am wrong this time). ill be right here laughing my ass off. USMNT= who you are connected to, not how good you currently are.

        Bradley as captain and core player under both coaches= Failed 2018 WC attempt

        poster “its ok 2 think”: Realists don’t know much about soccer because they don’t kiss Bradley’s ass.

      • You are right, it is hard to argue raw data. Video evidence shows Bradley being a poor CM for most of the 2018 WCQ and jogged down in trinidad when we needed him most. Must be cool to sock puppet yourself.

  7. As far as the 1st team goes I agree with Johnnyrazor…”The only debate is probably fullback. Cherundolo vs Yedlin and/or FJ at RB and Beasley at LB. Both were more a part of the previous decade so understandable for a Yedlin over those two.”
    IMO the 2nd team has many more questionable selections. Not sure how Morris (Limited # of appearances) & Bedoya (Never really established himself) were able to garner this kind of recognition.

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    • I thought that two but who else would you add to the 2nd team? (Stats this decade only)
      Eddie Johnson 7g 26 caps
      Maurice Edu 33 caps 1g 0a as a DM (Bedoya different position in those days but 2g 11a)
      Mix Diskerud 6g 2a 38 caps (no WC appearances as opposed to Edu and Bedoya)
      Nagbe 25 caps 1g 2a (No WC)
      Onyewu 17 apps
      DeMerit 8 caps (every minute of 2010 WC but didn’t play after 2011)
      Bocanegra 32 caps 3g
      Stu Holdan 1g 2a 14 caps (1WC cap)
      Ricardo Clark 6 caps 1g
      McKennie and Adams limited sample
      ———————————
      I’m sure I’m forgetting someone

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      • Kind of depressing how injuries derailed some very promising options that could/should have been key contributors during this time period….
        ArJo, CD9, Holden, Gooch,
        Also hammers home that whole lost generation argument with the likes of…
        Mix, Shea, Corona, Torres, Morales, Williams, Agudelo, etc….

        Personally I’d have gone with Boca over Gonzo (length of service even if he was at the end of his career); ArJo over Morris (was actually on the WC team and played….even if their # of games were similar).
        Unfortunately don’t really have a like for like replacement for Bedoya, but his time was so underwhelming that I find if difficult to include him as one of the top 22 players over the past 10 years.

      • I would guess the debate of Boca vs Gonzo comes down to we’ve got fresher memories of Omar. Boca’s career was far more in the previous decade. Probably both should beat out Besler.
        ————————
        ArJo vs Morris: Morris 39 caps 10g 8a (2014-2019) ArJo 19 caps 4g 2a (2013-2015). Had Berhalter called in Aron for the 2 Cuba matches this fall those stats are probably reversed but he didn’t so Morris wins, Aron’s one WC sub performance not enough.

      • DeMerit, was I thought the best CB, but he really played a bigger role in the previous decade, he was most notable in that you simply did not see him quietly going about the job of denying the opponents chances, until you noticed the other team was not having any joy going anywhere near him.
        Bocanegra was a pure defender who had a range of possible positions and leaving him off the 2nd team while having Besler and Gonzales there is a pretty big slight to Carlos. Beasley fits on the 2nd team and like Carlos, it is as much where you think he should be that is the biggest question.

  8. The only debate is probably fullback. Cherundolo vs Yedlin and/or FJ at RB and Beasley at LB. Both were more a part of the previous decade so understandable for a Yedlin over those two. Of course Bizzy will be calling for Wondo over Altidore.

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