5 greatest USMNT players born abroad

The Fourth of July and soccer go great together. Therefore, we took a break from grilling to honor the five players born outside the country who most excelled in a United States jersey.

The USMNT have been fielding foreign-born players longer than anyone. For example, the 1930 World Cup team that reached the semifinals featured six players born abroad, five from Scotland and one born in England. The United States continued that tradition throughout the 1990s with several foreign-born players on the roster, and it’s something that remains part of the national team to this day.

The USMNT’s 2-1 win against Ghana this past Saturday in a pre-Gold Cup friendly was highlighted by the debut (and goal) by Sporting Kansas City’s Dom Dwyer. Born in England, Dwyer emerged as an MLS star in the past few years and earlier this past March became a naturalized American citizen.

In honor of Independence Day and all things American, here’s a look at the five best foreign-born players to ever don the national team jersey.

5. Joe Gaetjens

Born in Haiti, Gaetjens moved to New York in 1947 at age 23 to attend Columbia University. A budding soccer star in his own country, Gaetjens’ family sent him to America in the hopes he would follow a different path and find stable work.

Instead, his feet led him to the USMNT and a spot on the 1950 World Cup team. Although he was not an American citizen (and would never become one), at the time FIFA allowed players to represent another country on the promise that they would naturalize. The star striker would go on to only play three times for the team. His only goal in a United States jersey, however, was a historic one, leading the Americans to a stunning 1-0 upset of England. That result in Brazil remains to this day one of the biggest victories in American soccer history.

Gaetjens would eventually go on to represent Haiti at the international level. How he died remains a mystery, although his family believes Gaetjens was killed in 1964 by the brutal regime of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier.

4. Hugo Perez

Although he born in El Salvador, Perez gained his U.S. citizenship after arriving here at age 11. Perez would go on to earn 73 caps with the USMNT, scoring 16 goals along the way, during a 10-year international career that ended in 1994.

Perez, a gifted midfielder, was a member of the U.S. Olympic team that participated at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and the 1994 World Cup played on home soil. Perez comes from a long line of soccer players. Both his grandfather and father played professionally for C.D. FAS in El Salvador, the same team he would finish his club career with in 1996.

Like many players during the 1980s, Perez played in the original North American Soccer League (with several teams, including the San Diego Sockers) and went on to star with the California club in the Major Indoor Soccer League. Perez most recently coached the United States’ Under-15 team.

3. Thomas Dooley

Born to a German mother and an American father who had been a member of the United States Army, Dooley grew up in West Germany and became one of the Bundesliga’s best defensive midfielders by the early 1990s. Nonetheless, he never represented his homeland at international level.

Dooley’s success coincided with the USMNT’s rebuilding program ahead of the 1994 World Cup. With then-coach Bora Milutinovic searching the globe for players with connections to America, Dooley turned out to be a perfect fit. Dooley became a citizen in 1992 and almost immediately became a starter. Dooley would go on to play 81 times for the United States, scoring seven goals, until his retirement in 1999.

Dooley also captained the USMNT at the 1998 World Cup in France. Dooley currently coaches the national team of The Philippines.

2. Jermaine Jones

Like Dooley, Jones is a German-American who also had an American dad. The midfielder represented Germany at the U-21 and the senior level, although he was never a starter. In 2009, Jones made his intentions known that he wanted to play for the United States and was eventually cleared to do so by FIFA.

Jones became a mainstay in midfield for the United States during the Jurgen Klinsmann era and was a starter during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Jones scored his first goal for the United States in June 2011 in a 1-0 victory against Jamaica at the Gold Cup. Jones’ biggest goal to date, however, was his strike versus Portugal at the World Cup (a curling shot from 25 yards out) to even the score at 1-1. The game would end 2-2.

Jones has won 69 caps and scored four goals for the United States. His last appearance in a major competition was last summer at the Copa America Centenario. On the eve of the 2014 World Cup, Jones put his patriotism on display by getting a star on his left knee featuring an American flag design.

Next:25 best club soccer teams of all time

1. Preki

Born Predrag Radosavljević, the Yugoslavian-born striker became famous under the name Preki. After he was spotted playing at an indoor tournament in his native Belgrade by some American scouts in 1985, Preki landed in the MISL. The indoor league at the time was the only national pro circuit in this country. He would go on to become one of the biggest indoor stars in this country.

But Preki yearned to play outdoors again and the striker got his shot in 1996 with the formation of MLS. He signed with the Kansas City Wiz (later renamed the Wizards and now known as Sporting Kansas City). Preki helped lead the team to the MLS Cup title in 2000. He would play with the now-defunct Miami Fusion for one season in 2001, before returning to the Wizards the following year.

Preki became an American citizen in 1996 and made his USMNT debut that year at age 33. Preki played 28 games for the United States, scoring four goals. His biggest was the one that defeated Brazil 1-0 in the semifinals of the 1998 Gold Cup. He would go on to represent the team at the World Cup that year. He played his last game for the United States in 2001 and retired from club soccer in 2005. He currently coaches USL side Saint Louis FC.

Source : https://fansided.com/2017/07/04/5-greatest-usmnt-players-born-abroad/

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