Photo by Feda Krvavac/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
The U.S. Men’s National Team had one of its most successful years ever in 2013 and with it came several outstanding individual performances that will not be soon forgotten.
From Landon Donovan’s string of impressive showings at the Gold Cup to Michael Bradley’s several strong games in midfield, there was seemingly a deep well’s worth of strong outings from U.S. players this year. That made cutting down all those brilliant displays to just five very difficult for SBI, but alas we have compiled a list of the most impressive individual performances from the past 12 months.
Here are SBI’s Top Five USMNT Performances of 2013:
Bradley may not have filled up the scoresheet in this one, but that did not take away from how dominant he was in the World Cup qualifier in Seattle. Bradley was a key figure for the Americans as they dictated the tempo against an overmatched Panama side, and he played a vital part in the build-up to Jozy Altidore’s opening goal in the 2-0 victory. It was arguably Bradley’s finest match in a year filled with many of them for the veteran U.S. midfielder.
4. Matt Besler vs. Mexico, March 26
Earning your first World Cup qualifying cap and just second overall on short notice at Estadio Azteca against Mexico would seem like a daunting task, but Besler was more than up for the challenge. Starting in his first qualifier after Clarence Goodson removed himself from consideration due to injury, Besler stepped in at centerback and delivered a thoroughly impressive showing in the Americans’ memorable scoreless draw with El Tri by helping stymie Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos and co. Fellow centerback Omar Gonzalez is also deserving of a nod for his performance in this match, but Besler edged him out given that he was the least experienced of the two and still performed admirably.
Let’s face it. Donovan could have had any number of games from his summer comeback tour make this list, including his two-goal, one-assist Gold Cup semifinals showing vs. Honduras. Still, the one that stood out the most was his three-assist, one-goal performance in the Americans’ 5-1 triumph vs. El Salvador a round earlier. Donovan was an absolute menace that day and his impressive quality was on full display for all to see. He also had a hand in the one goal that he officially did not set up or score himself and shined so brightly that he very briefly wore some sunglasses that were thrown at him before a linesman forced him to take them off.
2. Clint Dempsey vs. Germany, June 2
The U.S. posted a surprising 4-3 victory over Germany in the Americans’ Centennial Celebration match in Washington D.C. this past summer, and Dempsey was a big reason for that. Dempsey punished the Germans by netting twice on the day and the U.S. captain was also involved in the sequence that saw Altidore score the opener. Yes, this was a friendly against Germany’s B team but that does not take away from the fact that Dempsey was sharp on the day and clinical with his finishing.
1. Jozy Altidore vs. Bosnia & Herzegovina, Aug. 14
It was not just one of the more dominant performances this year. It was one of the more dominant performance in U.S. Soccer history. After seeing his side fall behind, 2-0, to Bosnia & Herzegovina in the first half of a friendly in Sarajevo, Altidore responded by putting together what may have been his best outing a U.S. jersey. Altidore scored three impressive goals (including one off a splendid free kick that was voted SBI’s top USMNT goal of 2013) and set up the other as the U.S. picked up a historic 4-3 comeback victory on European soil.
What do you think of SBI’s Top 5 USMNT Performances of 2013? Think we got the order correct? What other individual outings from the past 12 months did you like?
Share your thoughts below.