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Americans Abroad - Feb. 21-23 Review the top Americans that can take their talents overseas this year. /foxsoccer/usa/lists/americans-abroad-feb-21-23-performances-players-overseas-022314 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2014/02/23/022314-SOCCE-forget-me-not-PI_2014022319021849_136_102.JPG
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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31984367 Banner year Banner+year USA

In 2013, the United States men’s national team qualified for their seventh consecutive World Cup, reclaimed the CONCACAF Gold Cup and set records for longest winning streak (12), wins (16) and winning percentage (.761). There were many standouts in this banner year, making it hard to decide who the Best XI was. But we’ve tried anyway. And we’re using Jurgen Klinsmann’s regular formation to avoid any accusations of shenanigans.

 

--Leander Schaerlaeckens

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31984370 Jozy Altidore, F, Sunderland Jozy+Altidore%2C+F%2C+Sunderland USA

It had been more than 18 months when Altidore finally broke the spell and scored a goal for the US against Germany in a friendly back in June. And from there, he went on a tear, bagging the opening and go-ahead goals in the three ensuing qualifiers -- the latter two of which proved to be match-winners. Then, in Bosnia, he scored three consecutive goals to turn a 1-2 deficit into a 4-2 lead in the ultimate 4-3 upset and make it seven goals in five games. His eight total goals led the team along with Donovan this year, but unlike Donovan, Jozy got them all with the A-team. After the famine came the feast -- and a national team player of the year award.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31983392 Clint Dempsey, CAM, Seattle Sounders Clint+Dempsey%2C+CAM%2C+Seattle+Sounders USA

The newly-minted Captain Deuce -- whose body of work merits the role, but who just isn’t as vocal in his leadership as Bradley -- was as critical to the national team as ever in 2013. Under Klinsmann, he has manifested himself as the closest thing to a Number 10 the USA has ever had. He put the Americans ahead in each of their two first hexagonal qualifiers, mostly because, as Bruce Arena once put it, “he tries s***.” And in that, he continues to stand alone and will fight his way into Fulham's starting XI this winter.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31983391 Eddie Johnson, LM, DC United Eddie+Johnson%2C+LM%2C+DC+United USA

As his club career floundered overseas, Johnson was forgotten by the national team, last seen when he was cut from the pre-World Cup camp in 2010. But his resurgence with the Seattle Sounders and a dearth of capable wingers earned him another shot. Donning a shock of blond hair, starkly offset against his dark complexion, EJ proved an unlikely weapon. Making runs off the wings or enlisting his hops for headers, “Demolition Man” scored two in the Gold Cup and two in qualifying, the latter of which slayed Mexico -- not to mention any doubts about his worth.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31983389 Landon Donovan, RM, Los Angeles Galaxy Landon+Donovan%2C+RM%2C+Los+Angeles+Galaxy USA

No player’s performance took you aback quite so much as Donovan’s did in 2013. (Yes, we actually just said that about the career goals and assists leader for the USA.) From December 2012 through late March 2013, Donovan was on a self-imposed sabbatical, a Band-Aid for his burnout. He rediscovered the love and came back -- but found that Klinsmann had closed the door on him for the national team.

 

Donovan was made to play the Gold Cup with the B-team and promptly lit it up. With five goals and seven assists, he gave his coach no choice but to bring him back to the first-team fold. In the World Cup-berth clinching 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus, he gave the game-winning assist before scoring the second goal.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31983390 Jermaine Jones, CM, Schalke 04 Jermaine+Jones%2C+CM%2C+Schalke+04 USA

As prone to scything through an opponent 40 yards from his own goal as he is to tweet a picture of his adorable children, Jones remained the USA’s most mercurial and confounding player. His technique is underrated, as is his passing. When he can be so bothered, his long passing is pin-point accurate. But with Bradley by his side, that isn’t really his role. Klinsmann wants a hard man up the middle who, as he likes to say, puts opponents “in the grind.” With intricate tattoos blanketing a muscular frame and a bone-crushing glare, the otherwise surprisingly gentle Jones can unsettle his counterparts to no end, even if it isn’t always seen or appreciated.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31984369 Michael Bradley, CM, Roma Michael+Bradley%2C+CM%2C+Roma USA

Il Generale keeps on garnering new nicknames in Italy, but Lex Luthor is just as loved by the US fans, who have gained an appreciation for just how good Bradley has become. With the accusations of nepotism finally fading as he enters the discussion for the greatest American midfielder of all time, Bradley was incomprehensibly passed over for the captaincy in the spring -- perhaps on account of his ties to the, ahem, previous regime. Still, there is little doubt that this is his team. The difference between his presence and absence is staggering, making him the team’s Least Replaceable Player -- FOX Soccer trademark pending.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31983385 DaMarcus Beasley, LB, Puebla DaMarcus+Beasley%2C+LB%2C+Puebla USA

“The old man” -- his own description of himself, not ours -- still has bags of value to this team. We learned as much this year, when Beas was reinvented as a left back -- moving back a line -- and held his own to plug yet another problem position. He isn’t perfect defensively, but Beasley’s attacking instincts were immensely valuable, allowing the winger to drift inside as he overlapped, to overload opposing defenses. Beasley’s 1,469 minutes led the entire program this year, and he guided the B-team to the Gold Cup as its captain.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31983387 Matt Besler, CB, Sporting KC Matt+Besler%2C+CB%2C+Sporting+KC USA

If Gonzo’s seizing of the job in the heart of the defense, allow us to introduce you to Mr. Matt Besler. Given his lack of international pedigree, a slower introduction to the team would have seemed perfectly reasonable. Nope. Besler was thrown into the deep end in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca, the most daunting of places to make your full debut. And he didn’t just manage to tread water; he glided through it like Michael Phelps. His strong one-on-one defending and distribution is a perfect compliment to his sax-toting partner.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31983386 Omar Gonzalez, CB, Los Angeles Galaxy Omar+Gonzalez%2C+CB%2C+Los+Angeles+Galaxy USA

Nothing he did on the field will eclipse the video Gonzalez posted to his Instagram account on Thanksgiving. Clicking on it confronted you with footage of him playing "Careless Whisper" on a saxophone. In his underwear. In the desert. For that alone he merited a place in this team of the year. On the field, he merely entrenched himself in one of the vacant center back jobs with his sound aerial play and marking, playing the second-most minutes of anybody on the team. The occasional mental error will be tolerated because, well, of that video.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31983388 Brad Evans, RB, Seatlle Sounders Brad+Evans%2C+RB%2C+Seatlle+Sounders USA

Inexplicably thrown in at right back, Evans, who is very much a central midfielder by trade, performed admirably. He even bagged a pair of assists in his 10 appearances by playing quick balls over the top from the wing. Bonus points go to Evans here for providing a viable option at a problem position where creaky long-time incumbent Steve Cherundolo keeps breaking down, Timmy Chandler is too flaky to be relied upon and Jonathan Spector is, erm, a nice guy.

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USA 2737 2341 USA's Best XI Players in 2013 31984368 Tim Howard, GK, Everton Tim+Howard%2C+GK%2C+Everton USA

Brad Guzan was masterful during the March World Cup qualifiers, when Howard was injured, posting badly-needed shutouts against Costa Rica at home and Mexico away. Nick Rimando kept opponents to just two goals during the six-game Gold Cup. But Howard remains the undisputed number one on this team. He posted five shutouts in a dozen starts, and if he had an off-day in Costa Rica, he more than made up for it against Mexico. Altogether now: TIM-MEEE HOOO-WARD!

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http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2014/02/24/022414-Rumor-Mill-GUNDO-GONE-DG-PI_20140224164223176_136_102.JPG Top football/soccer transfer rumors - Feb. 23-Mar. 2 Check out the latest rumors doing the rounds... Check out the latest rumors doing the rounds throughout world football. Robin van Persie's rumored return to Arsenal would be beyond controversial in many ways. Feb 26, 2014 8:47 AM ET 1 30 /foxsoccer/world/lists/transfer-rumors-february-24-march-2-football-soccer-players-teams-022414
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2014/02/23/022314-SOCCE-forget-me-not-PI_2014022319021849_136_102.JPG Americans Abroad - Feb. 21-23 Review the top Americans that can take their... Review the top Americans that can take their talents overseas this year. Familiar faces may rejoin United States men's national team conversation. Feb 25, 2014 2:41 AM ET 1 30 /foxsoccer/usa/lists/americans-abroad-feb-21-23-performances-players-overseas-022314
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2014/02/21/drasticjump-pi_20140221180930519_136_102.JPG FOX Soccer Power Rankings - Feb. 21-28 FOX Soccer Power Rankings: Paris Saint-Germai... FOX Soccer Power Rankings: Paris Saint-Germain return to top five after crushing Champions League win Giant thumping brings Ibrahimovic and Co. back to our top ten list. Feb 22, 2014 1:50 PM ET 1 30 /foxsoccer/world/lists/power-rankings-february-21-28-paris-saint-germain-return-to-top-five-after-crushing-win-022114
http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2014/02/17/021714-SOCCER-Shock-Waves-HF-PI_20140217182428996_136_102.JPG Top football/soccer transfer rumors - Feb. 17-23 Check out the latest rumors doing the rounds... Check out the latest rumors doing the rounds throughout world football. Robin van Persie's rumored return to Arsenal would be beyond controversial in many ways. Feb 20, 2014 10:42 AM ET 1 30 /foxsoccer/world/lists/transfer-rumors-february-17-23-football-soccer-players-teams-021714