FourFourTwo's USMNT Top 50: 50-41
44. Chad Marshall
Marshall has won MLS Defender of the Year more times than anybody else (three), but now, in the last chapters of his career, his quality has become overlooked. His virtues, however, have taken center stage over the last four months, with his partnership with Roman Torres fortifying the spine of Seattle’s MLS Cup-winning squad.
Dominant in the air, and better with his feet than most given him credit for, Marshall is still capable of matching up one-on-one with almost any striker in Major League Soccer. Particularly commanding on set pieces, Marshall is among the league’s best both in man-marking and as a target, as his four goals this season can attest.
Perhaps if the U.S. wasn’t relatively deep at center back, Marshall would have gotten more than 11 cracks with the national team. That he hasn’t doesn’t diminish the quality he could bring to the national team, if he got another shot. He may not be in Bruce Arena’s plans, but Chad Marshall is still one of our 50 best American players in the world.
-- Richard Farley
43. TIM REAM
The former New York Red Bulls defender has been grinding away consistently in the English Championship over the last six seasons, but then that doesn’t really keep you on the minds of most American soccer fans, does it? Ream’s playing time in England is a nod to his consistent form, though, and you’d have to think he’d be higher on most lists if fans saw him play day-in and day-out.
Knowing what you get out of a center back is true value, and Ream has been playing at a high level for a long time now. Ream will have a tough path to break through in the U.S. talent pool with the likes of John Brooks and Matt Besler ahead of him in the pecking order, but at 29 years old he shouldn’t be completely counted out.
-- Paul Tenorio
42. CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI
He'll be 34 at the end of January and is seeing less and less time with the national team, and the haters are never going to let go of that miss against Belgium, but there are few strikers that command the box better than the Earthquakes' star.
He scored a dozen goals for San Jose's toothless attack this season despite a three-month drought and miserable service, making it a record seven straight seasons in double digits. He's fantastic in the locker room -- you'll never find someone with something bad to say about the guy -- and his output demands respect. He's just 24 goals off Landon Donovan's MLS record, with 121, which might be a road too far, but let's not be so sure. If the Quakes create chances, he'll finish them.
-- Scott French
41. Lynden Gooch
Given the ubiquity of online info and how closely the U.S. supporter culture tracks its Yanks abroad, it’s hard to “sneak up” on the American soccer fan. So, how to explain Lynden Gooch?
Gooch was barely an afterthought on U.S. scene in August when – lo and behold! – he was in Sunderland’s opening day starting XI. Clearly, nobody is confusing David Moyes’ relegation-threatened Black Cats with Europe’s elites. Still, it’s a Premier League outfit.
Perhaps the disconnect was Gooch’s move abroad at a relatively young age; born in California to an English father and Irish mother, he moved overseas for Sunderland’s youth system at age 16.
Still somewhat raw but blessed with speed and tenacity, Gooch has made nine appearances on Sunderland’s wing. But his most important appearance – as far as a lot of you are concerned – may have come in November. He was “cap tied” to the United States by appearing in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica – quite possibly the only good thing to happen that dark night.
-- Steve Davis