BY BOURKE MACDONALD
Welcome to the International Futbol Exchange (IFX) Soccer Blog. The objective of this blog is to provide commentary, analysis, and tips about the wide world of soccer ranging from youth play to professional leagues and international competitions. Topics will vary but may touch on youth soccer, soccer study abroad programs, soccer camps, soccer academies, Americans playing abroad, Major League Soccer (MLS), UEFA Champions League, English Premier League (EPL), Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, USA Men’s and Women’s soccer teams, Euro Cup, and the FIFA World Cup.
This is the first blog in a running series about American soccer players battling it out in leagues away from the states. IFX Soccer prides itself on helping youth and aspiring professional players explore the soccer world and realize their potential by competing and growing in Europe (Germany, Spain, England, Italy, etc), Latin America (Argentina, Brazil), and beyond.
Let’s take a look at how some of the top American players are fairing on the international stage. Many of the following guys play exclusively in Europe. Other players such as Landon Donovan stay dedicated to the USA’s MLS while utilizing their off-season to be on loan at top European clubs.
Landon Donovan (Born: 1982, Ontario, California, 5’ 8”, Forward/ Midfielder)
The legendary player leads the US national team with 138 goals and 46 assists. Donovan is coming off a remarkable season with his main club the LA Galaxy, scoring 15 goals in 32 appearances. The Galaxy grabbed the elusive MLS Cup in 2011 against Houston. Donovan scored the clinching goal and was named MLS Cup MVP.
Donovan played very well on loan in the EPL for Everton with 3 assists in 7 games and 3 assists in just 2 FA Cup games. He has helped Everton stay in the middle of the table of the EPL. Playing in the top league in the world keeps Donovan sharp for MLS and national team duties.
Landon is scheduled to appear for the US national team against Italy on Feb. 29, 2012.
Clint Dempsey (Born: 1983, Nacogdoches, Texas, 6’ 1”, Attacking Midfielder, Winger)
Clint Dempsey continues to be a standout American player on the US national team and in the EPL. The tough, versatile, and flamboyant playmaker is having an excellent campaign again for Fulham. He has 10 goals in 25 appearances in the EPL. Including the FA Cup and Europa League, Dempsey has 16 goals in 34 games. He has propelled Fulham to the middle of the EPL table.
The “Dynamic Duo” of Donovan and Dempsey will link up again soon. Clint is also scheduled to appear for the US national team against Italy on Feb. 29, 2012.
Tim Howard (Born: 1979, N. Brunswick, New Jersey, 6’ 3”, Goalkeeper)
Howard has been rock solid at goalkeeper for team USA over the years. He is also a standout in England’s EPL as the starting keeper for Everton. His 59 saves and 6 clean sheets in 25 games have kept Everton at the middle of the EPL table. The intelligent and athletic keeper actually scored his first goal with a 102 yard clearance against Bolton. This was only the 4th goal by a goalkeeper in the history of the Premier League.
Expect Howard to be a mainstay at goal for team USA throughout the next World Cup.
Jozy Altidore (Born: 1989, Livingston, New Jersey, 6’ 1”, Forward)
Jozy Altidore continues to be the leading striker on the US national team. The tough, crafty, athletic youngster has had an outstanding career for the US in numerous competitions including the World Cup. He has 45 appearances and 13 goals for team USA.
Jozy’s professional career has been quite turbulent with stints in the MLS, EPL, Spanish La Liga, Turkish League, and now the Dutch league. He plays for Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, which sits at the top of the table. Altidore has had a fantastic season in the Dutch league and the Europa League with 35 total appearances and 11 goals.
Carlos Bocanegra (Born: 1979, Upland, California, 6’ 0”, Center Back)
Bocanegra is a captain and key defenseman for team USA. He typically takes the lead and pre-game speaking duties at team USA events.
Bocanegra has played at Rennes in France and Fulham in England. Bocanegra currently plays for the Glasgow Rangers, ranked second place in the Scottish Premier League. He has had an impressive run with 26 total appearances and 3 goals this season. Rumors are that he is in talks with the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS.
Steve Cherundolo (Born: 1979, Rockford, Illinois, 5’ 6”, Right Back)
Cherundolo is a main defender on the US national team and contributed during the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Cherundolo is a leader and captain on the German Hannover 96 Bundesliga team. His illustrious career in the Bundesliga entails 337 appearances dating back to 1999. This season he is closing in on 20 total appearances of 45 minutes or more which will give him an automatic contract extension for next season.
Michael Bradley (Born: 1987, Princeton, New Jersey, 6’ 1”, Center Midfielder)
A leading midfielder on the US national team, Bradley has 63 appearances and 9 goals. Although his father no longer coaching team USA, expect Michael Bradley to get many more national team caps.
Michael Bradley had several successful seasons in the German Bundesliga at Borussia Mönchengladbach with 76 appearances and 10 goals. Bradley now plays for Italian Seria A club Chievo Verona. He has 24 appearances for the club, which sits middle of the pack.
Maurice Edu (Born: 1986, Fontana, California, 6’ 0”, Center Midfielder)
Born in California with Nigerian parents, Maurice Edu has steadily improved his career by getting more time on team USA with 10 appearances in 2011.
Edu also jumped from MLS’ Toronto FC to the high profile Rangers in the Scottish Premier League in 2008. He has 32 appearances and 3 goals this season for Rangers who sit at second place in the table.
Oguchialu Onyewu(Born: 1982, Washington, D.C., 6’ 5”, Center Back)
“Oguchi”, born to Nigerian parents, is the main center back for the US national team. The stalwart defensemen led team USA to success in the 2009 Confederations and also played in the 2010 World Cup.
His success for team USA led to high profile signings in Europe. He played for AC Milan, Twente (Dutch), and now Sporting CP in Portugal. He has had a very good season with 26 total appearances and 5 goals. Unfortunately, he suffered another knee injury this month and will need surgery, leaving him out for 8 weeks.
Stuart Holden (Born: 1985, Aberdeen, Scotland, 5’ 10”, Midfielder)
Although Stuart was born in Scotland, his family moved to Sugar Land, Texas when he was 10 years old. Holden has 17 appearances and 2 goals for the US national team. Injuries have limited his play.
Holden has risen quickly through the ranks with a phenomenal run at Houston in the MLS, appearing 88 times with 15 goals from 2006-09. Holden signed with the Bolton Wanderers of the EPL in 2010. His 28 appearances and 2 goals helped the club reach 7th place and make it to the semi-finals of the FA Cup. However, knee injuries have sidelined Holden in recent months. Surgery could keep him out 6 months but Bolton vows to be patient for the talented midfielder.
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