Top 5: Presenting American soccer's very best social media characters | THE SIDELINE

Social Media Top 5

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USA Today sports

Professional athletes often seem larger than life, too intimidating to approach on the streets or too big time to grant a photo or autograph. Fortunately, that's just not the case with some of the biggest names from Major League Soccer and the US national team.

Social media has gone a long way toward breaking down the barrier between fans and players, but the fact that many are regular, everyday guys makes for a stronger connection to the league and country's brightest stars.

The great thing we've come to learn about professional soccer players is this: once they're finished with training in the late morning, they've literally got 12 waking hours with which to entertain their most adoring fans and curious onlookers. Granted, some are better than others, and that's why they amass hordes and hordes of followers into the tens and even hundreds of thousands.

With that, we present to you, the five very best social media characters from the American soccer world:

No. 5: Brek Shea, Stoke City and US national team midfielder - Twitter @brekshea | Instagram brekshea

Here's the first thing you have to know about Brek Shea on social media: he can be unpredictable, to put it mildly. Before I followed Brek on Twitter, I'd never seen a dead pig's head inside a football club locker room before. Thanks to Brek, now I have. Brek and his roommate at Stoke, US national teamer Geoff Cameron, fancy themselves top chefs at home, and they cook up some tasty looking spreads on the regularRemember I said Brek was a little bit out there at times? Yeah, well, he is. Texas, ya heard?

You could think of Brek as American soccer's "bad boy" of social media, but if that's really your most egregious crime, you're living a pretty clean and healthy life, what Eddie Johnson might call #positiveliving (more on that later). While Brek may leave you wondering what's coming next six out of seven days a week, you can always count on him for a uniquely styled "kicks and socks of the day" Instagram post once he leaves the training ground.

This is Brek Shea in a one picture nutshell:

No. 4: Dax McCarty, New York Red Bulls midfielder - Twitter @daxmccarty11 | Instagram daxmccarty

Dax McCarty flies under the social-media radar because he's just under 10,000 followers, but Dax might be the most sneakily tongue-in-cheek tweeter in American soccer. For example, "I'm really short and a really pale ginger, I will make fun of myself for this." Again, self-deprecation is one of the funnier forms of comedy. Jokes on Twitter about you former manager are always fun. Dax later back-tracked a bit and clarified.

As you would expect from a short, ginger kid, Dax is one of the funnier #throwbackthursday photo posters that MLS has to offer. Anyone that posts a baby picture like this deserves some serious credit.

Dax's best (and first) use of Instagram's new video feature is a personal favorite:

No. 3: Stuart Holden, Bolton and US national team midfielder - Twitter @stuholden | Instagram stuholden

First of all, is there an American player that everyone wants to see succeed and make a full comeback more than Stu Holden? He so graciously kept us up to date on his injury rehab journey in 2012. Reindeer antlers? Check. How about a 25-pound chicken? Check. Designer-brand thermal underwear? Check. Anybody who is hair twins with Megan Rapinoe gets extra points in my book. 

Also, together Stu Holden and Clint Dempsey win the American soccer Best Vine-rs award in a landslide. These two classics making fun of one another's Twitter bios still garner "watching on repeat" status, a month or two after the fact:

No. 2: Eddie Johnson, Seattle Sounders and US national team forward - Twitter @eddie_johnson7 | Instagram eddie_johnson7

What can we really say about Eddie that hasn't already been thought or said before? There are many examples of #positivevibes and #positiveliving in Eddie's social-media streams. For example, "this lady is about to dye my hair blond and I'm going to look very ridiculous when it's done." That was #blondhairdontcare. This is #makingitreign. And Eddie's always here to teach us that you're not #livinglife #lovinglife if you don't take bubble baths.

Lastly, shout out to Eddie for being a very #prouddaddy to his two children and keeping his son laced up in the newest Air Jordan sneakers.

Okay, Eddie, now it's time, you can tell everybody what it is.

No. 1: Terrence Boyd, Rapid Wien and US national team forward - Twitter @tboyd91 | Instagram terrence_boyd

Our boy Terrence is a real mixed bag on Twitter and Instagram. He'll mix it up with national team teammates on the former and crack jokes with some of his boys. His Instagram, like Eddie's, is Terrence's true gift to the American people.

"They see me mowin they hatin." How does Terrence announce to the world he's died his hair bleach blond? Instagram, of course. Every now and then, Terrence and his social media mentor mix it up as the USMNT's #SoccerNinjas. And he loves his mother dearly. Snatch him up, ladies.

And then there was this. Check the random turtle.

Who's your favorite on Twitter, Instagram or Vine? Who's the one guy that every time he opens his mouth types up that tweet on his smartphone, you know you're going to bust a gut laughing as soon as you see his avatar next to his words?