A few weeks ago TSG brought you a top-ten list of World Cup jerseys you could flaunt from nations around the globe that balanced uniqueness, hipness, and longevity.
TSG writer Brian Mechanick—who penned our popular first piece on US jerseys–is back after some deliberation to share with you what jerseys to consider heading out of 2010’s festivities, through the next qualification and into World Cup 2014.
Which USA Jersey?
You go into your closet to find a suit to pretty-up for your cousin’s wedding, and you see it lying there, crumpled on the floor: your white ’10 Jay DeMerit kit. You see it in all its glory: beer stains from celebrating Donovan’s 91st minute goal, beer stains from crying after Asamoah Gyan’s heartbreaker. It reeks of trying too hard to hit on that cute girl in the Heather Mitts jersey (albeit somewhat masked by the smell of your friend Big Mike, who loves man-hugs after goals).
But then a realization: it’s that time again! Time to head over to your local soccer shop and buy a new USA kit. But your favorite player Brian Ching is too old for the USMNT and Carlos Bocanegra is off to star on billboards, so whose jersey should you get?
11. Landon Donovan– [GASP] How could America’s hero, the man who saved the US versus Algeria, who scored three goals in the World Cup, not even be in the top ten? Well, after appearing on every media-outlet from Regis & Kelly to The Daily Show to throwing out the first pitch at a Dodgers game, as Madison Avenue types would say, LD’s Q-rating has never been higher. Great news for American soccer, but bad news for your new Donovan kit.
Showing up to the Brazil friendly in a crisp Donovan shirt screams, “I have no idea who Cobi Jones and Claudio Reyna are, but I love the US Soccer team!”
Appreciate you jumping on the soccer bandwagon and are glad to have you supporting the squad, but you can’t exactly go reminiscing about USA-Portugal in ’02 with that type. Love Landon unconditionally in your heart, but keep him off the back of your new jersey.
10. Alejandro Bedoya– One of the last men cut from the 2010 US World Cup squad, Bedoya is relatively anonymous in the States. But a budding club career with Örebro in Sweden has the right winger on a path to bigger and better things. The man has produced in his brief time with the USMNT, attacking the Dutch right side in a March friendly with similar verve as Barca’s Pedro brought for Spain against the Oranje in the World Cup Final.
Getting a 2010 Bedoya means you get to drop knowledge on people who don’t know about the Boston College prospect now, then brag in four years with your 2010 kit that you were setting up his 2014 fan club since the beginning.
9. Omar Gonzalez– Six-foot, five inches of intimidating defender, Omar is not only the heir to Oguchi Onyewu’s throne, but also the man replacing him on this list. Just as Gooch’s career is seemingly on the decline, fighting back from a terrible knee injury and an unpropitious club situation at AC Milan, Gonzalez’s career is on the rise.
Omar has come off a Rookie of the Year season in smashing fashion, leading the Galaxy to the league’s best defense with a staunch .333 goals-against average in his appearances. It doesn’t look like it will be long till Omar is a USMNT regular and Europe is pestering MLS’s corporate office.
8. Stu Holden– The man, the myth, the legend, the hair. Hotter than his Haiti’s strike, Holden stock has been rising since his award-winning Gold Cup campaign in ’09.
Born in Aberdeen Scotland, Stu has moved just south to Manchester and the Bolton Wanderers. He’s already earned playing time (world-hated Nigel de Jong-induced broken leg aside) and the respect of the Trotters’ fan base.
Though many were disappointed to see Stu get little playing time in South Africa, his letdown is a boon for his jersey-viability. Only those up on the USMNT, Houston Dynamo, and professional video gaming know that Holden is the truth, so rock a #11–even better if you complement it with your own blonde faux-hawk.
7. Benny Feilhaber– The heir to Carlos Bocanegra’s “Your girlfriend’s favorite player throne”, the Brazilian-Jewish UCLA-Hamburg SV product’s career has been a roller coaster of highs and lows.
He scored the golazo heard ‘round CONCACAF to win the US the ’07 Gold Cup, endured a horrific Premier League season ever in 07-08 at Derby County, then expressed his feelings in song. But after establishing himself at AGF in Denmark, Benny is coming off a strong World Cup as the USA’s super-sub. Unlikely to return to his relegation-stricken side, Benny is being linked everywhere, from England to Turkish champs Bursaspor to Hapoel Tel-Aviv, champions of Israel.
But wherever Benny lands, the 25-year old is on the way to bigger and better things.
6. Jose Francisco Torres Jose Torres has the chance to be the Mexican-American star that US Soccer fans have been pining after. “Paco” Torres brings the stereotypical creativity and on-ball skill that the more direct-styled US team has lacked. The US might not have been ready to utilize Torres’ talents in 2010, but look for JFT to emerge a star on the USMNT in the upcoming cycle.
5. Clint Dempsey– Entering the 2010 World Cup, Clint Dempsey was tipped to star for the USA. But Robert Green’s assist aside, Deuce did more dirty work than personal goal celebrating.
With Deuce’s Fulham manager Roy Hodgson off to Liverpool, big clubs are rumored to be stalking Dempsey, led by the Rossoneri. A relocation to Milan would make Clint the first American outfield player at one of Europe’s highest rated clubs since Jovan Kirovski donned a Leverkusen kit. Deuce might be on the wrong side of thirty when 2014 comes around, but that will only make him vintage, not stale.
4. Jozy Altidore– Despite not tallying on the scoresheet this World Cup, Jozy demonstrated his talent to the world.
A blend of strength, speed, and just a bit of on-ball creativity, Jozy only lacks the dependable finishing to make him a star striker. But at only 20 years old, expect Altidore to keep getting better and better. Altidore just might be the most likeable US soccer around these days, with his humanitarian work for Haiti, prodigious tweeting, and Spain slaying. His club career is a bit up in the air these days at Villareal, but with Jozy’s drive and talent, expect him come through these next four years a better player and star for the USA in Brazil.
3. Maurice Edu– Robbed of a glorious go-ahead goal versus Slovenia, Edu is coming off a strong performance as a substitute in the World Cup. Maurice has appeared to earn the spot of #1 holding midfielder for the USA starting this new cycle, providing a blend of discipline, tackling, and confidence going forward. There may be no American in a better club situation than Mo at Ibrox. With the opportunity to play Champion’s League football this year, expect Edu’s class to rise even further. With Mo hitting his prime in time for 2014, now’s a good time to invest in an Edu kit.
2. Charlie Davies– Heartbreakingly, Charlie Davies’ car accident proved too much for him to recover in time for South Africa, as #9 watched from home and Herculez Gomez did Davies’ kit proud. Charlie is still only 24, and the future is bright for the striker. While Davies’ injury knocked him out of the US squad and the national consciousness, it does mean wearing his jersey shows you know the struggle, and have supported Davies through thick and thin.
Bet on Davies making the impact in 2014 that was expected post-Confederation Cup in 2010.
1. Michael Bradley– MB90 was the United States breakout player in this World Cup, doing his best Roy Keane impression as a box-to-box force in the midfield. With an intense glare and propensity for important goals, Bradley looks poised to be in consideration for the armband in 2010. With EPL teams coming knocking for the Borussia Mönchengladbach player, it seems a move to a big-time side is coming sooner than later for Bradley.
Michael Bradley best typified the fight-to-the-last-gasp attitude of the Yanks in South Africa and that’s why he has the number one jersey going forward for the next four years.