US soccer has continually grown and developed over the past 25 years, ever since the team managed to qualify for the 1990 World Cup with “the shot heard ‘round the World”. The players who have graced the pitch since have increased in talent and really helped cement the US as a top international team.
Here, we take a look at the best 10 players that have played during that time and the boots they have worn. Players tend to chop and change their footwear of choice through their career. So, to create this list we looked at the choices each player wore and have selected the one boot we feel suited their style best, providing them with the most suitable level of performance. This is What the 10 Best USMNT Soccer Players of the Last 25 Years Have Worn and Why.
Bryan Byrne is the founder of SoccerCleats101, a website created as a valuable source of unbiased information for players looking to find out about soccer footwear. Got a question about boots? Hit up Bryan on Twitter.
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No. 10 – Cobi Jones x Puma V-Konstruct
Appearances (goals): 164 (15)
Jones holds the current record for most USMNT appearances. He was a mainstay in the squad right through his playing career and offered consistency to the team through one of their most prolific periods. Plus, how could dreadlocks like that not make the list?
Jones liked to dabble with different ranges through his career, with Adidas, Puma and even Kappa some of the brands he wore. but it was the Puma’s power boot that found home on his feet during the latter part of his career. They added a completely different element to his game and allowed him the opportunity to beat a defender and swing in powerful crosses throughout a game. He also had a bit of gritty side to his game, so adding a more full bodied style boot gave him an edge when he had to grind back down the field to help his right back.
No. 9 – Paul Caligiuri x adidas World Cup
Years: 1984 to 1997
Appearances (goals): 110 (5)
Caligiuri’s claim to fame was the goal he scored to clinch the US spot at the 1990 World Cup, but his ability to run the game from a defensive position was what made him one of the best defensive players the US has ever had. In 110 international appearances, he bagged 5 goals.
When you score one of the most important goals in US history, you better be wearing a pair of iconic boots. Yes, Caligiuri was wearing a pair of adidas World Cup when he scored that goals versus Trinidad and Tobago. As a defensive minded player, he didn't have to stray forward and a boot with comfort and consistency was what was needed. We don’t have to go into too much detail about the World Cup since they are the most iconic boot of all time. Younger fans reading this, think of the Copa Mundial + studs.
No. 8 – Earnie Stewart x adidas World Cup
Appearances (goals): 101 (17)
Stewart was born in the Netherlands, but he became one of the best overseas players to ever play for the National Team. He played most of his career over in Europe, before returning to play in MLS for a short stint in 2003. He managed to jump aboard the century club by amassing 101 international caps.
Another player who choose the consistency provided by the World Cup. And Stewart was another defensive minded player who worked pretty well with them on his feet. Not one to stray out of a tackle, Stewart kept things in check in the middle of the pitch.
No. 7 – Brad Friedel x adidas Predator
Appearances (goals): 82 (0)
The one thing I respect most about Friedel is his ability to keep his body in top shape and compete with the best in the business. Although he retired from international soccer in xzz, he has maintained his starting position with some of the best clubs in Europe, currently at the ripe old age of 42.
A keeper can always do with the added benefit of some sort of simple technology in the strikezone and the Predator range has continually provided that. Built with power in mind, it is a boot that offers keepers a little extra when taking kick-outs or playing long balls off the ground. If anything, it provides a guide where the ball should be struck, so you have something to focus on and don’t whiff the ball. They have continually been a choice of Friedel and he has been ever consistent while wearing them.
No. 6 – Eric Wynalda x Reebok Valde 94
Appearances (goals): 107 (34)
A natural born goal scorer, Wynalda was the first US player to play in the German Bundesliga. Over his career, he played x times for the US and scored x goals. His goal scoring record stood as the leading for the US until Landon Donovan became top scorer.
A boot that really seemed to suit Wynalda’s style (and attitude) was the Reebok Valde 94. Wynalda was really starting to become a high profile player just as Ryan Giggs started to hit the spotlight, so it only seems fitting that they would be wearing the same boot at that time. The boot was designed with a super soft leather upper and featured layered stitching across the forefoot that offered some additional padding.
No. 5 – Claudio Reyna x adidas Predator
Appearances (goals): 111 (8)
Seen as one of the greatest creators to ever play with the US, the one-time captain made a fine trade playing with several clubs in Europe before returning to play in MLS. He was one of the most influential captains that have ever worn the US jersey.
Reyna is another player who dabbled with different boots and silos, but the Predator range offered a great base for his style. Being that he got into wearing the Predator range right when David Beckham was front and center of the boots advertising campaign, it seems like a bit of that promotion might have rubbed off on Reyna. He was a completely different styled player to Beckham, but they both had the same fundamental mindset – to create goals.
No. 4 – Tim Howard x Nike Tiempo Legend
Years: 2002 - present
Appearances (goals): 90 (0)
If you have ever seen Howard play, you will know his shot stopping ability rivals the best that have ever played the game. After a rocky start as Manchester United’s goalkeeper he has established himself as the long standing keeper at Everton.
Howard is a keeper who needs stability in his game to excel and he seems to get that in the Tiempo Legends. Built with classic leather upper and a basic, but extremely effective soleplate, he has a boot that doesn’t need a flair player to stand out. The conical stud configuration provides a great traction base and allows a keeper to move from side to side without worrying about getting stuck in the turf.
No. 3 – Brian McBride x Nike T90 Laser
Appearances (goals): 96 (30)
McBride’s ability to score in the air was seen as his playing strength and not many players can or have matched his prowess. He made a big impact while playing with Fulham in England, and the club bar was even named after him! During his career, he scored x goals in x appearances.
Big and bold, McBride was best a menace while wearing the Nike T90 Laser range. He did have many stints with other boots including the Nike CTR360 Maestri and the Adidas Copa Mundial but the power provided with the T90 Laser was better suited to his overall style. On the ground, adding a boot that provides a sweeter strike zone can only play to the advantage of a player who could hold up a ball and hold off a player with exquisite style.
No. 2 – Clint Dempsey x Nike Mercurial Vapor
Years: 2004 - present
Appearances (goals): 99 (35)
Deuce has quickly become one of the best attacking players in the World and he is currently the most high profile player in the US squad. His hard working style and ability to crack shots from anywhere within shooting range, makes him a player that opponents fear. Plus, he is pretty decent in the air!
As one of the current poster boys of US soccer, Dempsey is currently wearing the Nike Vapor IX. He has been a long time wearer of the Mercurial range and even had a “Don’t thread on me” logo imprinted on several personalized pairs. They suit his game to a tee and offer him a lightweight feel with the ability to quickly accelerate as he gets into attacking mode.
No. 1 – Landon Donovan x Nike CTR360 Maestri
Years: 2000 - present
Appearances (goals): 144 (49)
Not only is Dempsey the best player of the past 25 years, but he is also the best US player there has ever been. On the pitch, he brings a very unselfish style of attacking play and has a reputation for creating goals as much as scoring them. He is also the top USMNT goal scorer of all time.
Since the ranges initial release, Donovan has worn the Nike CTR360 Maestri and his performances in them tell you that they are a special boot. And given they are a boot targeted toward playmakers, he is the ideal player to demo them. There are not many players who can mix a natural goal scoring ability with a sense of creative flair, but Donovan makes it look easy. If you put him in every boot ever released, I’m not sure that there would be one better suited than the CTR360 range.