Yanked Around USMNT Player Power Rankings

September 23, 2008
Step forward, be ranked.

Step forward, be ranked.

In a new Yanked Around installment, we’re going to start doing some Player Power Rankings of guys in US pool.  These will probably happen bi-monthly and come from careful analysis of both club and country play.  So without further Freddy Adu, let’s see where the guys stand.

NOTE: This is not to suggest that these are the 18 players who should “make the roster now!” just a ranking of our guys based on current performances.

1. Landon Donovan

A hat trick against DC United this week saw Donovan take his goal tally to 19 goals in 20 games for the Galaxy this season (he also has 8 assists).  Match that with his sturdy play in our recent Qualifiers and that takes Landon to the top of this, our first installment in USMNT Player Power Rankings.

2. Oguchi Onyewu

Gooch holds down our #2 spot behind strong play in the CL, UEFA Cup, and WCQ’s.  After a heartbreaking loss to Liverpool in which Onyewu featured very strongly, the American has kept Liege at the top of the Juliper League and also helped his team to a draw at Goodison Park in the UEFA Cup.  He has also been instrumental thus far in helping our USMNT keep clean sheets in each of our WCQ’s, and has even threatened to get on the scoresheet himself.

3. Tim Howard

#3 may be a little high for Timmy considering he and Everton have had a difficult start to the Premier League season.  The Toffees defense has let in 11 goals in just 5 league games.  While that can’t be all placed on Howard (it’s no secret there are some big defensive holes at Everton), those goals against don’t help his case here.  The upside is, that Tim has kept 3 clean sheets in WCQ, and he made a few stunning saves in those tough road matches.

4. Carlos Bocanegra

This is probably as high as Carlos could get on our list, but scoring the gamewinner in Rennes’ UEFA Cup victory last week has propelled him to number 4.  He also grabbed the lone goal at Guatemala and has played his part in our 3 WCQ cleansheets. His performances say it all.

5. Michael Bradley

Michael Bradley messes with the mind of every USMNT fan.  On one hand, we have his outstanding season with Heerenveen last term, scoring loads of big goals at a high level like no other USMNT player has ever done.  Then on the other hand, we have loads of lackluster National Team performances while playing the most minutes of any player in the US pool.  In any case, that’s the makings of another column, so here lets just say: Bradley has been more than solid in our last 3 WCQ’s. The reason he makes it to #5 is based on his tireless tackling (if at times sloppy execution late in games) and the great play he showed against T&T.  His sharp long passing in that game is something that the USMNT desperately needs.

6. Clint Dempsey

Dempsey is lucky to be at #6, and I was just about ready to throw Heath and Cherundolo before him. A pair of well-taken goals in our WCQ’s are the main reason he’s here, and also the fact that Dempsey has made a strong name for himself despite playing out of his favored position.  The truth is: Dempsey isn’t a striker, and he isn’t a winger either.  That said, he has worked hard and adapted through that to still become a vital contributor to our MNT.  If his club struggles continue (and things don’t look good), Dempsey could fall further down this list, but as long as he can produce for his country he’ll always be in the mix.

7. Steve Cherundolo

One of the most underrated players on the USMNT, Cherundolo has consistently shown himself the best US right back since before WC 06.  He is a constant fixture for his club and he is a true example of a defender who does “the little things” (his positioning is excellent).  It isn’t abnormal for him to grab assists regularly for Hannover, and I think that is one of Bob Bradley’s challenges: How to get Stevie C involved in the attack.

8. Heath Pearce

It hasn’t been an easy road for Pearce.  He’s had to fight through rumors of an “attitude problem” and let his play speak for itself, but he is finally starting to place a firm grip on the US left back spot.  I think he still has some mental lapses, but he showed some great 1v1 defending in our WCQ’s, and if he can get his club situation sorted out, he’ll further distance himself from other left back competitors.  I’d love to see Pearce in the Eredivisie where he could develop as an attacking back.

9. Maurice Edu

After a good showing at the Olympics, you could make a case for Edu being higher than #9, but I think this is where he belongs.  However, there is no where for Edu to go but up, pending that he can step into a strong contributing role at Rangers.  He has showed flashes for the USMNT of being a great partner for Bradley in the middle, thinking creatively in attack but still being able to track back on defense.  His consistency is still a bit lacking, but if he can get rolling in Scotland, the other central midfield position is his to claim.

10. Damarcus Beasley

Beas is a player who in a good run of form, could be #1 on our list. However he has looked FAR from classic Damarcus in our WCQ’s and has been playing poorly for his club as well.  His touch is rusty and he is missing that killer instinct in the final third that would really make him a threat on goal.  He bungled a beautiful Edu through ball last weekend for Rangers, and had trouble this week as well.  Here’s hoping he can get his business sorted out.

11. Sacha Kljestan

Sacha could be higher on this list too, but he needs to settle.  He was equal parts exciting and frustrating in the Olympics and he played smartly in his minutes versus Trinidad and Tobago.  Unfortunately, in the long run I think Sacha Kljestan will fall into the “there’s not enough room in midfield” category.  But for now, his strong play keeps him in competition with Maurice Edu.  However, unless he can get to Europe fast, I think Edu will distance himself from the Chivas USA man.

12. Kenny Cooper

WHAT? KENNY COOPER? Yes. Kenny Cooper.  Even before Freddy and Jozy.  While only at a club level, he has been producing consistently.  Plus he has been scoring difficult and blistering goals, not just 6 yard box tap ins.  Sure Freddy and Jozy haven’t been given much of a chance, but I can’t place them higher just on faith alone.  Kenny was denied a move to Europe in August, but still stayed composed enough to keep delivering goals for FC Dallas.  Bob Bradley will call up Kenny Cooper.

13. Jozy Altidore

After Jozy’s La Liga debut with Villarreal, you could argue that he deserves to be higher.  But the facts are he hasn’t had enough minutes to truly prove himself and earn a higher spot.  Sure, like all other US fans, I am 100% sure that he is ready to start contributing to our USMNT as a starting striker, but he still has yet to do so.  After a dissappointing Olympics marred by lack of PT (thanks Piotr), Jozy needs to get back in the USMNT mix, and getting him there is Bob Bradley’s responsibility.

14. Freddy Adu

Like Jozy, Freddy is currently suffering from lack of opportunity.  He is scrapping for minutes at Monaco, and he NEEDS to be playing regularly.  Obviously, I know that he has boundless potential, but it’s not being realized.  We see it in flashes, but in the Olympics we also saw him disappear for large stretches.  Freddy needs to see game time, because at his best he is the most creative player the USMNT has at it’s disposal.

15. Eddie Lewis

Eddie Lewis is consistent.  You always know what you’re going to get from him: 65 minutes of hard work and a few crosses, maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll even see a nice 1v1 move.  But it’s time for Eddie Lewis to be phased out of the USMNT.  He doesn’t bring anything that our younger players can’t also deliver (besides “experience” perhaps, but c’mon…), and his lack of pace really bogs down our midfield play.  A solid roleplayer who shows grit.

16. Marvell Wynne

Wynne is another player who is screaming with potential.  We saw his blistering speed in the Olympics on a few lengthy runs, but he just lacked the quality on his final touch.  If Marvell can work on his technical skills and composure, he could be an instant challenger to Cherundolo.  I expect to see Wynne get called up in the next few qualifiers, especially as he could be hoping for a move to Europe in the winter.

17. Brian Ching

Sigh. Brian Ching.  The endless argument about Ching is the “he doesn’t belong on the team” versus “but he holds the ball up well!”  The truth is, sure he can hold the ball up, but he is hardly an exceptional Post-Up striker. His touch is too poor. He can use his body decently, but he doesn’t really have the technical skill or vision to really lay the ball off inspiringly. He hustles and he can grab the occasonial poaching goal, but alot of times he seems to just be running around like a chicken with his head cut off.  You can’t look me in the eye and tell me that his assist to Dempsey versus Cuba was truly supposed to be a pass and not a trap.

18. Frankie Hejduk

Hey, to be honest, Frankie didn’t look bad in his WCQ appearances, and he DID score a cute little goal for Columbus last week.  Sure, he blew alot of great crossing opportunities against Cuba, but his tackling was strong and you can always count on him to hustle.  The fact of the matter, he just doesn’t really offer anything to the team.  You stick him in the lineup because you know you can count on him to “not mess up.”


Chad Marshall, Stuart Holden, Charlie Davies, Jeremiah White, Eddie Johnson, Robbie Rogers, Danny Szetela, Michael Orozco, Sal Zizzo, Michael Parkhurst, Charles Renken (just kidding).

Disagree with me? Think someone’s rated too high? Let’s hear it!

Check back after the next batch of WCQ’s for some updated Player Power Rankings!




  1. love the rankings. would have put donovan a little lower for disappearing in some of the wcqs and heydude a little higher for his incredible work rate and dependability (despite much else other than being hilarious and awesome). loved the kenny cooper bit. bradley must call him! practice does not equal games. keep up the good work!

    also why is the email required?

  2. I love the rankings also. I agree with your 1-8. Then I go Ching (somewhat underrated, imo),Beasley, Edu, Kljestan, Mastroeni, Hejduk, Jozy, Hahnneman,Wynne, Adu.

  3. What? No Eddie Johnson? Hahahaha…

  4. Your rankings are excellent. The only thing I would change is Hejduk. I think that he could be ranked higher. Nothing is better than consistency.

  5. I just used the “without further Freddy Adu” joke on my own blog last week.

  6. I’m glad you guys are enjoying the Rankings! I think it’ll be a cool feature to revisit every few weeks.

  7. Personally I think that Michael Parkhurst and Jay Demeritt both show better composure on the ball and defensive positioning than Boca. I would love to see one of them playing center with Gooch to add a little finesse to our brute force center defense right now. I’d also like to see them a bit higher on the rankings, but I understand that Parkhurst is just always good and slips beneath the radar because of it, and Demeritt plays on a Championship side that’s struggling.

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