Postcard from Europe: Americans by the numbers
AMSTERDAM — Much fuss was rightly and recently made when Fulham ace Clint Dempsey set a new standard for goals by Americans in the Premier League. And not only is Deuce now tops on that impressive chart, he gets a chance to add to it every time he suits up for EPL action.
Americans sure do love their stats and records. From sports to political polls to Iron Chef, we're all constantly hypnotized by cumulative numbers. Soccer does not kindly lend itself to crunching stats, but we manage to do it anyway.
As most Yanks playing in Europe are easing into a deserved holiday break, it seems a good time to run the numbers to see who has done the most of this, that and everything else as an American export in Europe.
The Job Creators
Most league appearances by Americans
(*Currently has an American on squad)
When it comes to clubs fielding US national team players, Fulham stand well above the rest. Since Eddie Lewis debuted in a March 2000 Championship match, the Cottagers have used seven Americans (Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra, Marcus Hahnemann, Eddie Johnson, Kasey Keller and Brian McBride) in league play a total of 467 times and counting.
The next closest also continues to build its number, with Steve Cherundolo's Hannover 96 currently at 394 games from five Americans (DaMarcus Beasley, Conor Casey, Clint Mathis and Sal Zizzo).
While Rangers currently have three US players, they stand just sixth on this list behind a trio of clubs each counting three Americans: VfL Osnabrück (376), Millwall (322) and Blackburn (308).
The Bell Ringers
Goals in Europe (1st & 2nd flights only)
(*Currently active in Europe)
This count is confined to time spent in first or second division play, but we're adding on any possible domestic or European tournament strikes. While Dempsey has recently set the mark for Americans scoring in England, he still has tons of work to do for this overall hit-man crown.
The Fulham star stands fourth here, well behind the 115 goals bagged by Earnie Stewart. He also still trails Roy Wegerle's 53 and former teammate Brian McBride, who bagged 48 in his four European stops.
Well back of Dempsey comes another active player, Michael Bradley, tied with Joe-Max Moore on 29 goals. Claudio Reyna's 27 edges out the 26 by Beasley and Casey for sixth place.
This ranking that tabulates the number of high-stakes European tournament knockout matches played may not seem very impressive at first. However, one must consider that only seven years ago, Thomas Dooley, Keller and John O'Brien shared the top spot with two appearances each.
Nowadays, Tim Howard is our midweek bright lights king, having worked seven such contests for Everton and Manchester United.
Dempsey would have appeared a lock to reach this summit in the new year until Fulham bowed out of this year's Europa League by leaking a stoppage-time equalizer. As is, he remains tied on six knockout matches with Beasley.
|Most UEFA knockout games played|
Sporting CP defender Oguchi Onyewu has played five of these games, but looks poised to make a run at the record with his team into the round of 32 against Polish underdogs Legia Warsaw. Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu completes our top five, with four knockout duels to his credit.
The Helping Hands
We've lauded the goalscorers, now let's pay some tribute to the guy who makes it all possible: the assist men.
In full disclosure, this is a difficult thing to track with 100 percent accuracy. Leagues do not always use the same measure for crediting a helper and these records are often haystack needles. As such, we will only be counting the assists notched since 2000.
It should come as no surprise that Lewis leads the way with 40 helpers from his fine years in the English League Championship. Having notched assists in three countries, Beasley runs a distant second with 22.
With half his total from Reading's monster promotion season in 2005-06, Bobby Convey stands third with 20 assists. With five already this season, Dempsey is fourth with a bullet at 19, while Benny Feilhaber and Earnie Stewart are tied for fifth place with 15 each.
With several Americans locked into title races and a record six set to dress for Champions League and Europa League knockout action, let's boil it down to the nitty gritty: Which clubs have raised the most silver above an American head?
While Rangers are probably a full season away from denting the top five in our league games ranking, no other team can approach their propensity to pop the bubbly with an American. In part thanks to Beasley, Edu and Reyna, the Teddy Bears have snuggled up to seven Scottish crowns and cups. With Bocanegra, Edu and Alejandro Bedoya on the books and a league lead, Rangers seem a safe bet to have this particular trophy case overflowing by summer.
Dutch giants Ajax and PSV Eindhoven are the only other European clubs to win as many as three championship medals (all earned by O'Brien and Beasley, respectively). Irish side Bohemians, FC Nordsjælland, Manchester United and Standard Liège have each grabbed two pieces of silver, a level Molde can shoot for in 2012.