Never have so many Americans done so well for their clubs abroad. Three members of our 2011-12 Americans Abroad Best XI won league titles. Many played on title challengers or teams that competed in
continental play. Several players enjoyed breakout seasons at new clubs. And in the case of Clint Dempsey at Fulham, he enjoyed the best season an American has ever had in the English Premier League.
Here's our best XI:
BRAD FRIEDEL (Tottenham). Friedel is still going strong at the age of 41. He didn't miss a beat when he moved to Tottenham, his fourth club in his 15-year EPL career. He extended his EPL iron-man record to 304 consecutive starts as Spurs finished fourth in the EPL. Unfortunately, Chelsea's UEFA Champions League title knocked Spurs out of Europe's elite competition next season. Stats: EPL: 38 games.
STEVE CHERUNDOLO (Hannover 96). The longest-serving American at a European club, Cherundolo completed his 13th season with Hannover 96, which clinched a berth in the Europa League for the second consecutive year. Stats: Bundesliga: 22 games; Europa League: 11 games.
CARLOS BOCANEGRA (Rangers). Bocanegra was brought in from French club St. Etienne at the start of the season and settled in quickly at Rangers. It was a tumultuous season as Rangers went into bankruptcy and the future of the players was in doubt. But Bocanegra impressed on and off the field, captaining Rangers in the absence of Steven Davis. Stats: SPL: 29 games, 2 goals; Europa League: 1 game.
MICHAEL PARKHURST (FC Nordsjaelland). Parkhurst came close with the New England Revolution, playing on three MLS Cup runner-up teams. He won the SAS Ligaen title in Denmark with FC Nordsjaelland, which clinched its first league title to qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League. Parkhurst had an assist on the winning goal in the 1-0 victory over Brondby in the next-to-last game of the season that thrust Nordsjaelland into first place. Stats: SPL: 29 games, 2 goals; Europa League: 2 games.
OGUCHI ONYEWU (Sporting Lisbon). It was quite a season for Gooch, who settled in at Sporting after struggling to regain his form in the two seasons after his knee injury in 2009. Another knee injury sidelined him in the middle of the 2011-12 season, but Onyewu came back to earn a call-up for the upcoming national team games. Stats: Liga Zon Zagres: 17 games, 4 goals; Europa League: 5 games.
MICHAEL BRADLEY (Chievo Verona). Bradley became the first American to start for an Italian Serie A club since Alexi Lalas in the mid-1990s. Some questioned how well Bradley would do in Italy after a unhappy final season in Germany with Borussia Moenchengladbach and loan spell at Aston Villa. But Bradley played very well for Chievo, and his improved play and growing confidence were evident in a man-of-the-match performance for the USA against Italy in their February friendly. Stats: Serie A: 35 games, 1 goal.
DAMARCUS BEASLEY (Puebla). After seven seasons in Europe, the 30-year-old Beasley was at the crossroads in terms of his career. A move to Mexico was a gamble, but he thrived at Puebla, playing all but one game and improving as the season went on. Stats: Torneo Apertura: 16 games, 2 goal. Torneo Clausura: 17 games, 5 goals
SACHA KLJESTAN (Anderlecht). Kljestan won his first league championship in seven seasons as a pro as Anderlecht convincingly won the Belgian title. He was very steady in midfield, though he still remains on the fringe of Jurgen Klinsmann's national team. Stats: Jupiler League: 36 games, 4 goals; Europa League: 10 games, 1 goal.
HERCULEZ GOMEZ (Estudiantes Tecos/Santos). It was a hot and cold season for Gomez, who began the Mexican campaign at lowly Estudiantes Tecos and moved to Santos in January. When he was inserted into the starting lineup at Santos, he scored 10 goals in seven games. But as the season progressed, he saw less and less playing time. He played only 77 minutes in three games during Santos' playoff run to the Torneo Clausura title. Stats: Torneo Apertura: 16 games, 7 goals. Torneo Clausura: 12 games, 5 goals, Concacaf Champions League: 6 goals, 6 games.
JOZY ALTIDORE (AZ). After struggling in Spain, England and Turkey, Altidore enjoyed a breakout season at AZ, leading the club in scoring as it challenged for the Dutch league title. It took some time, but Altidore finally won the confidence of Coach Gertjan Verbeek in the second half of the season and was AZ's main man, scoring five goals in five games in April. Stats: Eredivisie: 34 games, 15 goals; Europa League: 14 games, 4 goals.
CLINT DEMPSEY (Fulham). They say Americans don't get any respect in England, but Dempsey finished fourth in the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year award voting. Dempsey had a career season, scoring 17 goals for Fulham, the most ever by an American in the EPL. He finished with 23 goals in all competitions.
Stats: EPL: 37 games, 17 goals; Europa League: 7 games, 3 goals.
Honorable Mention: Tim Howard (Everton), Edgar Castillo (Club America/Tijuana), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Maurice Edu (Rangers).