By Jacob Klinger
To the disappointment of so-called purists, US National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has bought into the worldly trend of calling up foreign-born players, some of whom speak only marginal English. The German World Cup hero has naturally taken to calling up players from his home country to represent the one he now coaches.
This practice has spawned heated debate regarding what exactly makers a player “American,” but that is neither here nor there. Such players have donned the American jersey – as well as that of other nations – for as long as the game has been played. Rather than splitting hairs over defining these players’ nationalities (yet), Soccer365 looks at the all-time American Dual National Best XI.
Note that only players actually born in a foreign country were considered. In other words, Landon Donovan is NOT a Canadian.
Born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, Joe Gaetjens would go on to score the only goal in the USA’s historic 1-0 victory over England at the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. Gaetjens starred as a youth in his native Haiti before coming to the United States to study at Columbia University. Fatefully, he became involved with the Brookhattan outfit that dominated the now-defunct American Soccer League and earned him a call to the national team for the 1950 World Cup where he shocked the world with his goal. Gaetjens was eligible to play for the US having declared that he intended to become a citizen. Under the federation and FIFA’s rules at the time, this was all that was required. After his stint in the U.S., Gaetjens briefly featured for Racing Club de Paris as well as Olympique Alès before returning to Haiti where he earned one cap for his birth nation’s national team. Sadly, Gaetjens was taken prisoner in 1964 by Francois Duvalier’s (Papa Doc) police force by whom he was later murdered. In 1976 he was rightfully inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
In this time-traveling team, Gaetjens partners with Roy Wegerle. Wegerle’s career took him from his birthplace of Pretoria, South Africa to Tampa Bay to Chelsea and back again. His club career spanned the death of the NASL to the Stone Age of MLS where he won a title with DC United in 1997. After becoming a citizen by way of his American wife in 1991, Wegerle featured in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups before retiring with the Tampa Bay Mutiny. His career in England saw him lineup for Queens Park Rangers and Blackburn Rovers before being replaced by one Alan Shearer. Below you can witness the dribbling exploits that earned him Goal of the Year in 1991.
Hugo Perez plays in the hole behind the strikers for the historic side. Perez moved stateside at the age of 11 from Morazán, El Salvador. One of the few classic #10s that the US can historically boast, Perez’s career, like that of many of his teammates, bounced around between continents as well as forms of the game. He played indoors for the San Diego Sockers after the NASL broke up as well as Saudi Arabian powers Al Ittihad. He scored 16 times in 73 caps during his ten year national team career, but missed out on the 1990 World Cup due to injury and featured lightly on Bora Milutinovic’s 1994 squad.
Just behind Perez is Tab Ramos. Ramos actually phased Perez out of the national team as the Montevideo-born midfielder was younger and the two did not play well together under Bob Gansler. Well before becoming MLS’s first ever signing, Ramos also moved to the United States at the age of 11. Ramos was the first prodigy of modern American soccer, having nearly made the Olympics team at the age of 17 in 1984. Fourteen years later became one of the first Americans to play in three World Cups as the US bowed out in France. He was recently appointed head coach of the US Under-20 team.
Providing the necessary defensive bite in this American team for the ages is Thomas Dooley. Dooley was born on the bright side of the Berlin wall in Bechofen, West Germany in 1961. His father was an American serviceman, but Dooley did not begin playing for the American team until he was 31. Dooley lined up in midfield as well as on the backline for the US as he suited up for his team 81 times. In 1998, Dooley captained his country under Steve Sampson at the World Cup before retiring from international play the following year. Hardcore followers of the national team may recognize him from his brief cameo as assistant coach under Klinsmann against Mexico in August.
Manning the left flank is John Kerr Jr. His father was a famous labor negotiator and player in his own right, but Kerr Jr. was yet another trailblazer for American soccer as he cracked the starting lineup at Portsmouth in 1987. His presence on the team may surprise you, but he capably fills a hole in the lineup. Kerr Jr. was actually a teammate of Kasey Keller’s at Millwall. One of only two players to have never played in a World Cup, Kerr Jr. was nevertheless a part of the US’s historic fourth-place finish in the 1995 Copa America. Today he coaches the Duke Men’s Team.
Wear your passion for the Red, White and Blue! The World Soccer Shop has the best selection of officially licensed soccer gear of the United States men's national team. Get in the gear today.
Earnie Stewart has had the most far-flung impact of these dual nationals. Stewart was born in Veghel, Holland, the son of an American serviceman and his Dutch wife. The prime of Stewart’s club career was carried out in Holland at NAC Breda and VVV Venlo, though he also netted 17 times for Willem II in the Dutch second flight in the 1990-91 season. Stewart would go on to play in three World Cups for the US where he predominantly played right midfield in addition to some appearances as a striker. His 101 caps leave him 9th all time for the national team and his 17 goals rank 7th. The cherry on top of his American career was the MLS Cup he won with DC United in 2003 before returning to Venlo where he had begun his career. Stewart’s role as Technical Director at NAC Breda followed by his hiring as Director of Football at AZ Alkmaar has broadened the scope of Americans in the footballing world. In fact, Jozy Altidore’s recent transfer to Alkmaar has Stewat’s fingerprints all over it. Earnie Stewart: the gift that keeps on giving.
Jeff Agoos – born in Geneva, Switzerland – has been much-maligned for some less-than graceful aging, but the 134 caps amassed in his 15 year national team career are worth applauding. He lines up as a left center back in this fantasy squad. Agoos won a national championship with UVA in 1989 and five MLS Cups – three with DC and two with San Jose – and was named to MLS’s all-time Best XI in 2005. He has also been inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2009. Agoos will remain the butt of many jokes, but he has more than enough accolades to smile at.
The other 1950 throwback, Ed McIlvenny, is at the heart of this defense. McIlvenny captained the miracle upset in Belo Horizonte. Born in Greenock, Scotland, McIlvenny, like Gaetjens, was able to play for the US due to his intent to become a citizen. Little known fact: McIlvenny played briefly under Matt Busby at Manchester United. Sadly however, he did not have the pleasure of seeing the rebirth of American soccer as he died just six months before Paul Caligiuri sent the US to the 1990 World Cup.
Fernando Clavijo completes this backline. Like Ramos, Clavijo was born in (Maldonado) Uruguay before moving to the US in 1979 at the age of 23. He never played in MLS, but bounced around the indoor leagues and various outdoor associations between the fall of the NASL and the rise of MLS. In addition to his 61 appearances with the national team, he also played eight times for the American futsal team. He was on the 1994 World Cup squad and was later inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2005.
The US has been uniquely successful at domestically developing ‘keepers. Consequently, David Yeldell is the last defense for this team. Yeldell was born in Stuttgart, West Germany where he got his start with Stuttgart Kickers II. He has played only 45 minutes for the US – against Paraguay – in March and currently is the backup at Bayer Leverkusen after having worked his way of the mid-tier leagues of German soccer. He has had the misfortune of playing at the same time as Friedel, Keller, and Howard, but has managed to carve out a respectable career nonetheless. He is 30 and may yet feature for the Nats in the future.
HAVE YOUR SAY …Feel free to add to this lineup, post one of your own, or simply lambast me for leaving off your personal favorite in the facebook comments below. Other such comments are more than welcome as well.
Have you been capped for the U.S. national team? Now is your chance.
The U.S. is wearing these classy looking jerseys when playing in front of the home fans.
Take your game to the next level with the adidas Predator LZ TRX.
Look great while cheering on the Toros in this cool FC Dallas tee from adidas.
The San Jose Earthquakes are off to a great start in 2012.
Get the official MLS match ball. MLS match balls available at many price points.
Control and passing pace are key to winning games. This boot delivers both.
The Seattle Sounders have one of the most popular MLS soccer jerseys. Get in the Gear.
The U.S. has highs hopes with Klinsmann in charge of the team. Support the team.
With a stable full of DP's, the Galaxy are sure to be fighting for MLS silver.