American soccer has had its ups and downs over the decades, but the last 30 years have proven that the United States is working towards something special. It is no coincidence then that all of the men listed on this “most capped” list have played in the last 30 years. For American fans, this will be like taking a trip down memory lane. For others, this may just be educational. However you find this list, we hope you enjoy it.
20. John Harkes
Years Active: 1987-2000
John Harkes had a tumultuous time with the USMNT. He was a member of both the 1990 and 1994 World Cup squads. At one point in his career, he was named, “Captain for Life” of the team by head coach Steve Sampson. But the captain was dropped just weeks before the 1998 World Cup after having an affair with teammate Eric Wynalda’s wife. Harkes was out of the national team set up until 1999 when his former college coach Bruce Arena brought him back into the fold.
19. Brian McBride
Years Active: 1993-2006
Brian McBride was an important player for the national team for well over a decade. He provided a big target up top and scored 30 goals while wearing the stars and stripes. McBride may be most remembered globally for taking an elbow from Italy’s Daniele De Rossi in the group stage of the 2006 World Cup. The event left McBride bloodied and De Rossi banned for four matches. Interestingly, McBride was one of three overage players on the United States team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics squad.
18. Alexi Lalas
Years Active: 1991-1998
Alexi Lalas is still today one of the most recognizable American players of all-time. He made quite an impression on the world in 1994 when he anchored the American’s defense with his long red hair, scraggly goatee, and faux denim jersey. He was named as an honorable mention All-Star after the 1994 World Cup. Lalas also played in two Olympic Games for the U.S.
16. Joe-Max Moore
Years Active: 1992-2002
The man with two first names is currently 6th on the all-time U.S. scoring list with 24 goals. Moore was on the roster for the 1994, 1998, and 2002 World Cup tournaments and played an important role in the ’98 and ’02 editions. Joe-Max Moore earned his 100th and final cap against Poland at the 2002 World Cup. A fitting end to a great international career.
16. Tony Meola
Years Active: 1988-2002
Tony Meola was the first great American goalkeeper of his generation. He was in net for the famous 1-0 victory that sent the U.S. to the 1990 World Cup. Meola was the first-choice keeper at both the 1990 and 1994 World Cup tournaments. Known for his eccentricity, Meola typically sported a long black ponytail. Interestingly, he once left the national team pool in order to pursue an American football career as a placekicker.
15. Earnie Stewart
Years Active: 1990-2004
Earnie Stewart’s international career didn’t have to be an American one. He was born in the Netherlands to an American serviceman father and a Dutch mother. The U.S. snapped him up though, and he proved to be an essential part of the American midfield for nearly 15 years. Not many American’s were playing in Europe at the time, so to have a midfielder with European pedigree improved the squad immensely.
14. Kasey Keller
Years Active: 1990-2007
It’s a credit to Kasey Keller’s quality and longevity that he managed to earn 102 caps despite having Brad Friedel – an equal in quality – in the same generation as himself. The two traded the first team gloves for several years, but it was Keller who was preferred at the 1998 tournament. In a friendly ahead of the ’98 Cup, he kept a clean sheet against Brazil which prompted Romario to remark, “That is the best performance by a goalkeeper I have ever seen.”
13. Eric Wynalda
Years Active: 1990-2000
Eric Wynalda is often overlooked as an all-time great, but he was named as U.S. Player of the Decade for the 1990s. What did he accomplish? Wynalda played in three World Cups, won the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and retired as the all-time leading goal scorer in the country’s history. Not bad.
11. Carlos Bocanegra
Years Active: 2001-2012
Carlos Bocanegra’s international began in 2001, but he made the center back position his own during 2003. It was a position he’d own until 2013 when his club career took a dip. Bocanegra played in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup’s and was team captain in 2010. He was incredibly versatile and was played at both left-back and center back throughout his career.
11. Paul Caligiuri
Years Active: 1984-1997
Paul Caligiuri could have retired after “The shot heard round the world” and he would have still been an American footballing legend. His goal against Trinidad and Tobago secured the United States’ qualification into the 1990 World Cup, their first World Cup since 1950. The defensive midfielder scored just 5 times in his 110 appearances, but that one goal was worth more than any other until that point in American soccer history.
10. Claudio Reyna
Years Active: 1994-2006
Nearly 15 years after his retirement, Claudio Reyna remains the best playmaking central midfielder the United States has ever produced. Reyna played in the 1998, 2002, and 2006 World Cup tournaments. He scored 8 goals in his national team career, including a match-winner against Canada in World Cup qualifying. Because of his longtime status as captain of the American team, he was often referred to by fans of his club teams as Captain America.
9. Jozy Altidore
Years Active: 2007-Present
Jozy Altidore is one of two active players on this list. Altidore has led the line for the Americans for over a decade. He currently ranks 4th on the list of all-time goals scored with 42. Jozy has featured in the 2009 Confederations Cup, 4 CONCACAF Gold Cups, and 2 World Cups. His career, with both club and country, have been dogged by injuries. Without his form and playing time being inhibited by injuries, Altidore would likely ranked as the best pure number nine in American footballing history.
8. Tim Howard
Years Active: 2002-2017
American’s have carved out a niche as a being a producer of high-quality goalkeepers. However, Tim Howard stands atop the list. Howard took over as U.S. number one after the 2006 World Cup and he didn’t relinquish the role until the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament. He played in two World Cups, drawing worldwide acclaim for his performance in the 2014 Round of 16 match against Belgium.
7. DaMarcus Beasley
Years Active: 2001-2017
DaMarcus Beasley is one of the unsung heroes of American soccer, despite appearing 126 times for his country. He burst onto the scene as a 20-year old at the 2002 World Cup. In those days Beasley was running up and down the line as a pacy winger. Later in his career, he found a renaissance as a left-back and was able to extend both his club and international careers as a result.
6. Marcelo Balboa
Years Active: 1988-2000
Marcelo Balboa earned his first cap in 1988, and in 1995 became the first American to break the 100-cap barrier. The defender would appear a total of 127 times, scoring 13 times. Balboa was a 2 x U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year winner. Along with Tab Ramos and Eric Wynalda, Balboa was one of the first 3 U.S. players to play in three World Cups.
5. Jeff Agoos
Years Active: 1988-2003
Jeff Agoos made his international debut in 1988 against Guatemala. He was a member of the 1998 and 2002 World Cup squads. Agoos, a defender, was also part of the 1992 Team USA Futsal team which won a silver medal at the 1992 futsal World Championships. He earned 10 caps for the futsal team.
4. Clint Dempsey
Years Active: 2004-2017
“Deuce”, as he is known to American fans, made his first appearance for the national team in a World Cup qualifier for the 2006 tournament. Dempsey would go on to become one of the best players in the history of American soccer. Clint Dempsey is tied with Landon Donovan for the all-time goals record for an American with 57. He is also ranked fourth in assists with 20.
3. Michael Bradley
Years Active: 2006-Present
Michael Bradley is, without doubt, the greatest American center midfielder of his generation. A quiet, lead by example type, he anchored the U.S. midfield for over a decade. Unfortunately, Bradley’s legacy has been forever tarnished by his dismal performance in the U.S.’s disastrous loss against Trinidad and Tobago which saw them miss out on the 2018 World Cup. Despite this, he has played a pivotal role in the success of American soccer over the last 15 years.
2. Landon Donovan
Years Active: 2000-2014
Landon Donovan is U.S. soccer’s “Golden Boy.” Since he burst onto the scene in the 2002 World Cup, Americans have been pinning their hopes on the boots of Landon Donovan. He is the American leader in assists and joint-leader in goals. His contributions cannot be quantified in just numbers though. When Donovan was in the lineup, you always felt the Americans had a chance. He had that talismanic ability to drag his team to victory.
1. Cobi Jones
Years Active: 1992-2004
Cobi Jones is a true American soccer legend. The man gave up a European career to help establish Major League Soccer and gave everything he could to his national team. Jones was recognizable for his ever-present dreadlocks, and for his play in central midfield. Cobi Jones finished his international career with 15 goals and 22 assists. A true legend of the game.