Top 5 American Soccer Careers Abroad

From the U.S. to overseas – surveying the top international soccer careers.

1. Clint Dempsey

Source: BBC

There is simply no argument for the top spot in this list. So far, no American has come close to the success Dempsey had playing in England. From 2006-2013, “The Deuce” bagged 57 goals along with 28 assists in arguably the toughest league in the world. His most memorable goal has to be this infamous chip against Juventes in the 2010 Europa League. In his first season for Fulham, Dempsey scored the winner against Liverpool, ultimately saving Fulham from relegation. During his time at Fulham, he was voted by fans as The Player of Year in 2011 and 2012. In the 2011-2012 season, he scored 17 goals and incredibly finished 4th in voting for the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year but his greatness cannot be denied. There is no questioning Dempsey’s career in England proved Americans can succeed in the Premier League. For this reason, he undoubtedly deserves the number one spot.

2. Tim Howard

Source: Premier League

During his career, Tim Howard played for one of the most popular soccer teams in the world, Manchester United. He also became a club legend at Everton where he was the number one goalkeeper for ten years. He will most likely be remembered for his heroic performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup but Howard was also a top level goalkeeper in the Premier League. In the 2008-2009 season he set the club record for most clean sheets in a season. During that season, in the FA Cup semi final, Howard saved two penalties against Manchester United, who replaced him years earlier, to send Everton to the final- how’s that for revenge? He even scored a goal for Everton in the 2011-2012 season. Howard’s resume speaks for itself, rightfully earning him the number 2 spot.

3. Michael Bradley

Source: NY Daily News

During the peak of his career, Michael Bradley was a box to box midfielder who found success within three European clubs. He started his European career in the Eredivisie for SC Heerenveen where he had 20 goals in his first season. He then progressed to Borussia Monchengladbach, where he accumulated 76 Bundesliga appearances along with 11 goals and four assists. He left Germany for the Serie A where he spent one year at Chievo Verona before moving to the historic club AS Roma. He found success in Italy playing in almost every game during his first two seasons. Overall, Michael Bradley had quite a respectable career in Europe playing for some of the biggest clubs in Germany and Italy, landing him at #3 on our list.

4. Christian Pulisic

Source: Forbes

Hopefully, in about two years this list will be useless due to the fact Pulisic and other young American prospects begin to find success in Europe. Pulisic’s placement is due to his youth. He is clearly one of the most if not the most talented American footballers in history. Starting his career at Dortmund, Pulisic netted 19 goals in 90 appearances for the club. Since his move last summer to Chelsea, Pulisic has experienced the highs and the lows of English football. He became the first American to have a Premier League hat trick when he scored three against Burnley in October 2019. However, since then he has experienced some small injuries preventing him from getting more appearances. If Pulisic can make his way back into the starting 11 and have a consistent run of form he should easily become the greatest American to play in Europe. For now, he sits at #4 on the list but has the honor as being the only active player on the list.

5. Steve Cherundolo

Source: NBC Sports

Steve Cherundolo might be an unknown name for the casual American soccer fan. However, his 15 year career at Hannover 96 should be highlighted much more. It is a rarity for an American to stay at one club his whole career while becoming an icon and leader overseas. Cherundolo, a mainstay at right back for the club, earned 423 appearances for the German side along with 87 international caps. He was even named captain of the side in the 2010-2011season and remained at Hannover until 2014 where he retired as the longest serving Bundesliga player. The Men in Blazers even turned his last name into a verb to describe an energetic right back who gets up and down the sideline which has to solidify his spot on this list.