It’s no secret that it’s been difficult for the majority of the American public to take to soccer, with most of the US sporting population being enamored with NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball or NHL. For some reason, America hasn’t fallen in love with the beautiful game to the same degree in which the rest of the world have. It’s also no secret that the select few of Americans that have fallen for the sport, have fallen hard. The passion and enthusiasm shared by US Soccer fans is rivaled by none. They may not be the majority but they are most definitely a loud and proud minority.
With the arrival of Kaka and the impending arrivals of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to US soccer, people are excited that the MLS is finally getting the global recognition that it deserves. However, you would be foolish to think that US soccer is only now attracting world class players.
Media as we all know is bigger than ever and as such sporting stars are put up on a pedestal which creates heroes. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are fantastic players, and they are heroes to many but they don’t fit in to my list of the top 10 greatest players to play soccer in the US.
When researching this project I was blown away by the sheer greats to have graced American soccer fields. It’s a list that includes winners of World Cups, Golden Boots and Ballon d’Ors. Some of the best players to ever kick a ball have played in front of sold out American crowds. They may not have been in their prime when doing so, but the legacy they left behind is mesmerizing. For those lucky enough, it was an honor to have seen even a glimpse of the flickering flame that was their genius.
You could argue that the likes of Gerrard and Lampard coming to the MLS at the same time is the biggest thing to happen in American soccer, and you’d probably be right from a commercial standpoint. It’s great publicity for these legends of the game to spend their remaining soccer years in the US, but they’re not the biggest names or the brightest stars to do so. I will argue that US soccer has seen the greatest players they are ever likely to see in years gone by. Whether or not the sport grows from strength to strength here remains to be seen, one thing I’m certain of is that in terms of of pure footballing talent and icons of the game, the best have already come and gone.
Next: No.10- Hugo Sanchez