The best American players who have played in Europe – ranked


The United States’ history is intrinsically linked with Europe and soccer has only strengthened those ties.

Since the 1990s a lot of the best American talent has crossed the Atlantic to leave their mark on European football.

You do not have to look far to find iconic US players in the continent’s top league but which stars have been the most successful? We took a look at the archives to find out.

Weston McKennie

Weston McKennie in action for Juventus / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Give it a couple of years and Weston McKennie may very well rank a lot higher on this list.

The 22-year-old midfielder broke through at Schalke 04 before earning a move to Juventus, where he impressed during an all-round disappointing season in 2020/21 for the Old Lady, despite winning the Coppa Italia.

DaMarcus Beasley, Remy Vercoutre

Beasley was a industrious presence on the left flank / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Flying wideman DeMarcus Beasley got his first taste of Europe when he moved to PSV Eindhoven in 2004. During his maiden season in the Eredivisie he helped his side get over the departure of Arjen Robben, featuring heavily as PSV won the title.

This set him up for a globetrotting career where he took in spells at Manchester City, Rangers and Hannover 96 before returning home.

Eric Wynalda

Wynalda was an industrious striker / Simon M Bruty/Getty Images

Eric Wynalda made a name for himself with some free-scoring exploits for FC Saarbrucken.

Although they have fallen down the leagues more recently, at that time they were a Bundesliga side and Wynalda great form laid the foundations for countless other Americans to thrive in Germany.

John O'Brien of Ajax

O’Brien could have achieved so much more / Ben Radford/Getty Images

John O’Brien could have achieved so much more if not for the chronic injuries that plagued his career.

Coming through Ajax’s coveted academy he forced his way into the starting XI in the late 1990s and was tipped for greatness. Unfortunately his body betrayed him and he was forced to retire in 2006, though not before he won two Eredivisie titles.

PREMIERSHIP SOCCER

A young Jones in a very nice kit / Phil Cole/Getty Images

Leading USMNT appearance maker Cobi Jones played the majority of his club football for LA Galaxy.

However, he also had a spell with Coventry City back when they were a Premier League outfit.

Carlos Bocanegra

Bocanegra was a solid option / Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Best known for his four year stint with Fulham Carlos Bocanegra also spent time in France with Rennes and Saint-Etienne.

Rangers were another one of his clubs before he departed following the club’s horrific financial problems.

Kasey Keller of Leicester

Keller was one of many American stoppers with a questionable hairline / Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Kasey Keller had a terrific career in Europe. The goalkeeper started off a Millwall, moving onto Leicester City where he helped the Foxes win the 1997 League Cup.

A move to Rayo Vallecano was next, followed by stints with Tottenham, Borussia Monchengladbach, Southampton and lastly, Fulham.

Brian McBride

McBride is a real fan favourite / Julian Finney/Getty Images

Battling centre-forward Brian McBride was never the most prolific of strikers but thanks to his link-up play and hard work he won over Fulham fans following his move there in 2004.

Prior to that he had a less notable spell at Wolfsburg but Craven Cottage would be the place he made his name.

Michael Bradley

Bradley was United States captain for many years / Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images

You don’t receive over 150 caps for your country unless you are a special player.

MIchael Bradley more than proved his worth in Europe during the 2000s and 2010s with the pinnacle of his career being a 2012 move to Roma.

Christian Pulisic, Ethan Horvath

Pulisic is the most expensive American player ever / John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Let’s be honest. By the time he retires Christian Pulisic is going to be top of this list.

The forward is already a DFB Pokal and Champions League winner and there is clearly much more to come from the incredible talent.

Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Friedel

Friedel when he had hair / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

When Brad Friedel arrived at Liverpool in 1997 he would never have believed that he would go on to make 450 Premier League appearances.

Yet, that was exactly what he did, taking in spells at Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and Tottenham over the next 18 years.

Claudio Reyna

Reyna’s son Giovanni plays for Borussia Dortmund / Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Claudio Reyna endeared himself to Rangers, Sunderland and Manchester City fans with his never say die attitude in the middle of the park.

Prior to entertaining British fans he enjoyed five years at Bayer Leverkusen and he is now earning a reputation as a fine sporting director.

Tim Howard

Howard received a well earned guard of honour in his final game / Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

The United States have produced some special goalkeepers down the years but few have been better than Tim Howard.

Plucked from obscurity by Manchester United at the beginning of the 2003/2004 season he immediately replaced Fabien Barthez as the Red Devils number one.

A terrific Premier League career followed with Howard going on to register 132 top flight clean sheets.

Landon Donovan

Donovan did well on loan at Goodison Park / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

For a generation of fans Landon Donovan was American soccer.

Although he played the majority of his career in his home country – he has registered more MLS assists than any other player in history – he also made his mark in Europe for Bayer Leverkusen and Everton.

Donovan could have made an even bigger splash this side of the Atlantic, but instead choose to stay loyal to MLS.

The streets will never forget Clint Dempsey’s Premier League career. Scoring consistently for Fulham during a memorable five year spell he also played for Tottenham briefly.

Dempsey remains a favourite at Craven Cottage with his form helping the club record some of their best ever results.



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