How Are The American Players Doing In The Premiership?

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It’s a question on the lips of literally a dozen people in the US, most notably Andrew Rogers from American “Soccer” website Soccer365, who has done his run down of how the Premiershiop’s American players have performed this past season.

To be fair, most of us possess an innate bias towards any footballing commentary coming from across the pond and would be expecting an American publication to modify the facts and deliver massively rose-tinted evaluations of how his boys have done. “USA! USA!” and all that.

But… well… that’s actually exactly what happened, as Andy Pandy chose to blame the clubs rather than the players for any and all deficiencies. We’ve cut-and-pasted the rundown from Mr. Rogers below, we’ve added our thoughts based on what we’ve seen of each player but you know better than us, and we want to hear from you how your American Hero has performed this past Premiership season.

Jay DeMerit – Watford:

A big year for the Green Bay native. Without a goal scorer, Watford were always on the back foot. DeMerit proved himself to be an able performer against the best attacks. Consistently praised by the fans and media, a big money move is surely around the corner. The defender’s only weakness is his positioning against the very best. Given his inexperience this will happen, but if he stays in the top flight and plays internationally he will become America’s best center back.

CaughtOffside Says: He seems to have had a good season, but the “big money” move for the 27 year old American probably isn’t too likely.

Jon Spector – West Ham:

Spector’s career has gone through quite a turnaround in the last 3 years. The former Manchester United defender used to be thinking about Champion’s League games and the Premiership. Now it would appear he will be a squad player in a low ranking English club. On the plus side for a player that has come through the US U-17’s and Old Trafford, he has dealt admirably at the lower end of the table, but will need to up his aggression levels, and get serious to be competing any where near European competition again.

CaughtOffside Says: Calling West Ham “a low ranking English club” is fair, but short sighted. And Spector never got anywhere near the United first team to consider this a career turnaround.

Oguchi Onyewu – Newcastle:

Found wanting at St. James’ Park, but in this respect is among illustrious company. Jon Dahl Tomasson was the worst player on the planet while at Newcastle, and goal machine Louis Saha looked indifferent when given a run out. The club is on their 7th manager in 10 years. Newcastle is the embodiment of instability. Onyewu didn’t stand a chance of settling in a side that didn’t listen to its manager, and have defensive problems dating back to the Keegan era. “Gooch” looked slow and weak but that says more about Glenn “Rodent” Roeder’s management than Onyewu’s ability. Spain or Italy might be better leagues for him.

CaughtOffside Says: Louis Saha wasn’t really a goal machine back in 1999 when he made a few appearances on loan at Newcastle. And we’re not quite sure how Onyewu appearing “slow and weak” could be blamed on Roeder, but apparently it can.

DaMarcus Beasley – Manchester City:

The PSV winger showed some great touches and scored goals at the right times. His talent was obvious, but he was hindered by the appalling offensive record of Manchester City (ten goals scored at home all season). If City had a proper striker in their ranks Beasley could have become a crowd favourite.

CaughtOffside Says: This one depends on whether you see Beasley as the victim of City’s attacking problems or, as a creative midfielder, a part of the problem. Predictably Soccer365 sides with the former.

Brad Friedel – Blackburn:

Friedel is universally regarded as one of the best goal keepers in Europe. There is little more that can be said about the Blackburn stopper. His saves in the dying moments of Blackburn’s 5th round tie against Arsenal will live long in the memory. Hopefully Friedel can extend his career by another 2-3 years.

CaughtOffside Says: Friedel puts in unbelievable performances every now and then, and is one of the Premiership’s top keepers. But “universally regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in Europe” is hyperbole that is to be expected from across the pond.

Bobby Convey – Reading:

Convey was unlucky with injury this season. In the few starts he had, the winger looked promising and showed he was comfortable at Premiership level. Given the workload he had in Reading’s promotion season and through the World Cup, it is unlikely he would have excelled. But looking at his record, Convey’s arrival at Reading was shaky, and it took a full season before he produced the goods. The same is likely in the Premiership.

CaughtOffside Says: Surprising restraint demonstrated on this one. Convey had a move to Tottenham all inked in a few years ago until work permits mucked everything up. He did look like he could be a solid left sided player though.

Marcus Hahnemann – Reading:

Great first season in the Prem. Looked at home against the best, and played an important role in a defensive unit, that gives the Reading offense the confidence to attack at will. Hahnemann made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes in Reading’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but his performances have been of such a high standard that it’s difficult to believe Rooney and Ronaldo have more top flight experience. The Premier League’s number 2 ranked goalkeeper in the country.

CaughtOffside Says: At first we balked at where Mr. Rogers came to the conclusion that Hahnemann was the “Premier League’s number 2 ranked goalkeeper” but discovered it was grounded in the Actim Index rankings. If we were ones to stereotype, we would say this was only to be expected from the Americans who cling to statistics as a measure of performance. A little more thoughtful analysis would say that, as a promoted club who played open, attacking football, it would be unsurprising that Hahnemann came on top when it came to saves made and other such measurements. Peter Cech probably makes among the fewest saves per match, but he’s still the leagues best. No idea what that Rooney and Ronaldo comment is supposed to mean.

Brian McBride – Fulham:

Martin O’Neil: “Everyone in this country is looking for a 25 year old Brian McBride.” Fulham’s Premiership status was secure as long as they could get McBride on the field. He receives rave reviews from the writers and fans week after week. He isn’t slowing down and deserves a shot at a bigger club.

CaughtOffside Says: We actually completely agree with this one, McBridge is one of the Premiership’s most effective target men whose team play and finishing are underrated.

Carlos Bocanegra – Fulham:

Goals and regular performances from the Cali’ native have made this season positive. But despite finding favour with Chris Coleman did not cement a regular position. He needs to define himself in one role but the question remains. If in a fully fit squad, is he good enough to start in the Premiership?

CaughtOffside Says: Almost certainly the answer is no.

Clint Dempsey – Fulham:

Scored the goal that kept Fulham in the top flight- “Deuce” knows when to come up big. Despite being brought in by Coleman, the Texan was kept on the bench and showed promise when coming on as a substitute. Next year is likely to be tough despite his growing confidence. New manager Lawrie Sanchez is not a big fan of passing football, and if Dempsey does get a game it is likely to be as a glorified work horse.

CaughtOffside Says: Also dunno.

Johann Smith – Bolton:

A hornet’s nest was stirred when I suggested earlier in the season that Smith needed to adjust his mental approach. Most were in agreement, while one or two who probably hadn’t left their state, felt American players are above criticism simply because they play in England. Smith has a huge opportunity with Sammy Lee, and has the talent to light up the Premiership. I hope he does the business.

CaughtOffside Says: Really dunno. Didn’t even know this bloke existed.

Tim Howard – Everton:

A great season from the US number 1. Ranked the third best goalkeeper in the Premier League, Howard is producing the kind of performances that Manchester United expected at Old Trafford. The jump from MLS to Manchester United’s first team was too big, but as his performances mature at Everton the big time Champions League clubs will start circling around him again.

CaughtOffside Says: Again with the Actim index and, no, the big time Champions League clubs will never start circling him again. Howard is a good reflex shot stopper but to get to the top you need a lot more than that from your keeper.

Claudio Reyna – Manchester City:

Reyna acquitted himself well in England. This season can’t have been a picnic in a losing dressing room, with a manager that had lost control of the players. He led a distinguished career in Germany, Scotland and England picking up some hefty transfer fees along the way. He has blazed a trail for others to follow.

CaughtOffside Says: That’s cool.