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The All-Decade U.S. Men's National Team
by Ridge Mahoney, January 5th, 2010 7AM

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[U.S. SOCCER] A decade is a long time -- more than a career in many cases -- for a professional soccer player, and in the case of a national team can represent a complete turnover. That's just about the case with the U.S. men's national team. Nobody will be surprised if only one -- Frankie Hejduk -- player who featured regularly in 2000 makes the 2010 World Cup team, and his chances are hardly assured. A new generation blossomed in 2002 with the emergence of Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley and Carlos Bocanegra and Pablo Mastroeni, and another generation is poised to break through. In selecting an All-Decade U.S. Men's Team, service to the national team and appearances in official competitions - Confederations Cup, Copa America, Concacaf Gold Cup and World Cup - take priority.

 

SOCCER AMERICA ALL-DECADE
U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

GOALKEEPER
Player
(Years played, total caps/caps in 2000-09)
KASEY KELLER
(1990-2007, 102/63). Nudges current No. 1 Tim Howard and 2002 World Cup hero Brad Friedel by helping USA win three Gold Cups and throttling numerous Concacaf foes in qualifiers. All-time leader in wins (53) and shutouts (47).

DEFENDERS
FRANKIE HEJDUK (1996-2009, 85/62). He embodies the American spirit for filling different positions at the 2002 World Cup, playing on three Gold Cup-winning teams, and heroic feats like coming off the bench to set up one goal and score another goal in San Salvador during the last Hexagonal.

EDDIE POPE (1996-2006, 82/53). A strong, calming presence in the back line for most of his career, Pope ushered in a new era of American central defenders who were expected to pass the ball instead of just belt it.

CARLOS BOCANEGRA (2001-09, 76/76). Another veteran of several Gold Cup triumphs, he established himself at the 2003 Confederations Cup and currently captains the team. He's also one of longer-tenured U.S. players in Europe as he starts his sixth year overseas.

STEVE CHERUNDOLO (1999-2009, 57/56). Injuries knocked him off the 2002 World Cup team and limited his contribution to the 2005 Gold Cup triumph, but he's been first-choice right back for much of his national team career. He's already into his second decade of European club play and is probably the best-passing defender ever produced by the USA.

MIDFIELDERS
CLAUDIO REYNA (1994-2006, 112/46). The best all-around American player who anchored the middle through good times and bad, Reyna's retirement after the 2006 World Cup has left a hole the team has yet to adequately fill.

PABLO MASTROENI (2001-09, 65/65). Broke into the starting lineup at the 2002 World Cup less than a year after making his debut and having never appeared in a qualifier, Mastroeni featured regularly in central midfield throughout the decade and captained the team several times.

LANDON DONOVAN (2000-09, 120/120). Stamped as a star upon scoring a goal against Mexico in his debut, he's the all-time leading goalscorer (42) and one of the few automatic choices in the starting lineup when healthy. He should play in his third World Cup this summer at his peak (he turns 28 in March).

DaMARCUS BEASLEY (2001-09, 89/89). Energized the team in 2002 at the Gold Cup and World Cup with his brazenness and speed, though Beasley's stock has slid since the 2007 regional championship and he's on the bubble for the 2010 squad. Yet for the most of the decade, opponents feared him, and they might again next summer if he can come close to top form.

FORWARDS
BRIAN McBRIDE (1993-2006, 95/60). A rugged, relentless warrior who left after the 2006 World Cup and hasn't been replaced, McBride withstood fierce punishment and several serious injuries to get important goals in big matches, pressure defenders, and win balls in the air. A consummate professional every time he pulled on the shirt.

CLINT DEMPSEY (2004-09, 60/60). A much different player than McBride but like him a sharp finisher, Dempsey displayed his prowess by scoring three goals last summer at the Confederations Cup. He brings an unpredictability to the U.S. attack it will need in South Africa.

RESERVES
Goalkeepers - Brad Friedel, Tim Howard.
Defenders - Oguchi Onyewu, Gregg Berhalter, Tony Sanneh.
Midfielders - Eddie Lewis, John O'Brien, Cobi Jones, Clint Mathis.
Forwards - Josh Wolff, Earnie Stewart, Brian Ching

 



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