For a 10-20-year stretch, the United States carved out a niche in the Premier League as a source of high-quality goalkeepers. To celebrate this, we’ve put together a list of the five best American goalkeepers to play in England’s top-flight. Even if you aren’t familiar with all their names and reputations, you can get a good idea of their quality by taking a look at both the number of games they played and the clubs they represented. Check out our list below:
Premier League Clubs: Reading, Wolves, Everton
Premier League Appearances: 115
Marcus Hahnemann appeared 115 times for 3 Premier League clubs. His longest spell came at Reading, where he minded the net from 2001-2009. Hahnemann appeared for the Royals 276 times, but most of those were while the club was in the Championship. He has a Football League Championship medal in his trophy case at home for Reading’s 05-06 campaign.
Hahnemann also spent two seasons in the Premiership with Wolves. During his first season with Wolves, the Castrol Performance Index ranked him as “The Best Goalkeeper in the World” according to their metrics. At the end of his second season, he was dropped and eventually released as Wolves narrowly avoided relegation.
Premier League Clubs: Aston Villa, Middlesbrough
Premier League Appearances: 154
It took Brad Guzan a while to get his chance with Aston Villa. For the first three seasons of his time in Birmingham, Guzan played backup to fellow American Brad, Brad Friedel. Finally, in the 2012-13 season, he got his chance, and for the next 4 seasons, Guzan was a Villa hero. Guzan helped the club avoid relegation on a few occasions and make the 2015 FA Cup Final, which they lost to Arsenal.
When the drop finally came for Villa, Guzan took his gloves to newly promoted side Middlesbrough. He played in just 10 games for Boro, in an ill-fated season that saw them go right back to the Championship.
Premier League Clubs: Leicester City, Tottenham, Fulham
Premier League Appearances: 201
Kasey Keller played an incredible 176 times for Millwall in the Championship before finally making a move to the Premier League with Leicester City. He was part of the Foxes side that won the 1997 League Cup and were runners up again in 1999. Leicester City fans still remember Allan Nielsen’s injury-time diving header that cost them the trophy.
He also spent time with Spurs, until he was ousted by former England number one Paul Robinson. Interestingly, Keller spent a month on an emergency loan spell at Southampton after they had a goalkeeping injury crisis. Finally, as it seems all American soccer players do, Keller spent a full season at Craven Cottage before moving to MLS.
Premier League Clubs: Manchester United, Everton
Premier League Appearances: 399
Tim Howard was thrust into the global spotlight after signing for Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. His United career started brightly, but a few shaky performances in his second season left him low in confidence. As a result, United brought in Edwin van der Sar and Howard was shipped to Everton.
It was a match made in heaven for both parties. Howard would go on to have a magnificent career on Merseyside, which saw him play over 400 times in all competitions for the Toffees. When he left, Howard said, “I will remain an Evertonian for life. This will always be my team, my club.”
Premier League Clubs: Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League Appearances: 451
Some say Old Man Friedel is still tending the net somewhere in the far reaches of the English Football League. He played for so long that he is the oldest player to have appeared for two separate clubs, Tottenham and Aston Villa. The goalkeeper spent so much time in England that he no longer has an American accent, he also doesn’t have an English accent either. It’s just a Brad Friedel accent.
Friedel was named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2002-03 for his work with the club he spent most of his time with, Blackburn Rovers. What’s more impressive than that is his run of 310 consecutive games played in the Premier League. The streak started with Blackburn in 2004 and ended with Spurs in 2012. Amazing.