What’s costing you your wallet?
Nick Sindt begs your expertise on USMNT jersey purchasing
Your prequel must-read
Last time TSG put out this piece at the perfect time; the jersey had just been launched and the World Cup was immediately on the horizon. The current kit has been out for some time, and it’s likely that most reading this site will have already made their choices, but what about those of us who wait until that defining moment or for that great deal or sale?
The impetus for this piece was selfish in nature, I just grabbed an authentic 2012/13 home jersey off eBay for half the retail price and now I need to send it on to US Soccer to get it printed; however as I put fingertips to keyboard it struck me that this kind of a post strikes a deeper chord as we prepare to flip the calendar.
2013 is going to be a huge year for the USMNT with the Gold Cup, the Hex, and our centenary on the horizon and you’ll want to ensure that the name on your back (if you’ve waited as long as I or are getting a gift for a loved one) is a solid one, but whom to choose? Other than MB90 or Clint Dempsey has there been a stand out player or defining moment that justifies spending the extra $30 to customize your shirt? To help you in making your selections here are some categories to help break down your options and what they may say about your fandom.
The Overall/EveryFan picks
1) Michael Bradley – Is there any US International more on-fire right now? It seems that playing for someone other than Papa Sweats has allowed him to reach his potential, and then some. OR, he’s finally just hit that purple patch of his career.
Either way he’s playing well for a big club and country, and getting his name and number on your shirt tells your friends that a) you like gorgeous volleys more than anything on earth, b) you’re going for timeless since it’s plain to see Bradley’s steely resolve, vision, and box-to-box runs ensure he will be a central figure for years to come, or c) all of the above.
Note: he only barely edges out Deuce on age and future impact alone.
2) Clint Dempsey – He scores goals against England, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Juventus. He openly mocks opponents on the pitch with the ‘Deuce Face.’ And, lastly he’s got that je-ne-sais-quoi about him that makes him the most exciting player to watch right now – you never know what trick he’s going to pull out next. If you’re going to strut down the street in a Dempsey kit, do it up right with a couple of arm tats and some 4-day stubble.
3) Tim Howard – As odd as ‘Howard #1’ might look on the outfield kit, he’s one of the top keepers in the world and he constantly saves the ass of the USMNT by standing on his head. Isn’t it time we honored him appropriately?
4) Landon Donovan – He’s been the face of US Soccer for 16 years now, scored more goals than anyone in a US Shirt, collected more assists, and played in the second-most games; you can’t really go wrong with his name adorning your shirt. However, being the poster-boy for the program means that everyone will know him and thus likely be the first choice of the casual fan, and he hasn’t really shown well in the current shirt due to injuries and general burn out. If you were going to get a Donovan shirt, the 2008/9 or 2010/11 Home shirts would’ve been better choices.
The Timeless Picks
I realize the US doesn’t have luminaries like Zidane, Pele, Maradona, or Cruyff that are respected the world over, yet, but most of us can agree on the following being our current list of timeless choices that give you instant street cred with knowledgeable US Fans
Tab, the original Coke of the USMNT
1) Tab Ramos #10 – The original US #10. One of the first to play the US game with South American flair. And to date, the last.
2) Thomas Dooley #5 – One of the first Germericans (in the Post-1990 history that most of us grew up with) to pull on the Stars & Stripes, he was definitely a classy and calming influence on our midfield and back-line during his tenure.
3) Earnie Stewart #8 – Arguably he’s Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan before Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan.
Classy on the field, classy in the front office, and just all around class. Class, class, class.
4) Paul Caligiuri #20 – Without his shot heard ‘round the world, not too many of us are fans of the USMNT in the same capacity today….and there isn’t a lot of tape of mostly white guys jumping around in too short shorts with USA on them outside of the Olympics.
5) Claudio Reyna #10 – Another South American-American who wore the #10 shirt, but Reyna played the game much differently than the traditional #10. His passing, vision, and tempo-setting skills are something we could definitely use in the Klinsmann era.
6) Ricky Davis — Don’t know him? Read this 1985 Sports Illustrated article, put down some ducats and gain some street cred.
7) Tony Meola – If only…
The ‘If we don’t see you in 2013/2014, Thank you dearly for your service, this is my salute to you’ Picks
1) Steve Cherundolo – You been part of three World Cup squads, maybe a 4th…, and dutifully called the right-back spot your home for as long as most of us can remember. You’re a name not many immediately think of since you carry out your role with a quiet grace and aplomb.
Picking a Cherundolo shirt tells the world you know your shit and you appreciate solid if unspectacular play from your fullbacks.
Let us all bow our heads in praise for a moment at The Great Dolo … The Mayor of Hannover. He just may never die. Awesome.
2) Carlos Bocanegra – Third most caps for defenders, tied for most goals by a defender, and captain of the national side. He’s never been called world-class by outsiders but we don’t know where we’d be without your timely, nerve-calming equalizing headers and the leadership that you’ve provided over the years.