Career years: 1999-Present
Clubs: Bayer Leverkusen II, San Jose Earthquakes, Bayer Leverkusen, Los Angeles Galaxy, Bayern Munich, Everton
Accolades: 5x MLS Cup Winner, 4x U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year, 2002 FIFA World Cup Best Young Player of the Tournament, 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup MVP, 2009 MLS MVP, 2008 MLS Golden Boot Winner, USMNT All-Time goal scorer (57) and assists leader (57).
Even from his professional beginnings, Landon Donovan was always the best American player. Leading the pack from the famous IMG Academy Class of 1999, which also produced DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, and Oguchi Onyewu, Donovan is by far the most talented player in United States soccer history, if not the most internationally successful. Dempsey, McBride, and Reyna have accomplished more for European club teams, and Donovan's spells in Germany are widely regarded as stains on his resume (even if his impactful Everton spells are sometimes forgotten). Yet Donovan's European missions have never been a prerogative in his career, as he's been comfortable with dominating the MLS and being a leading force on the national team.
"Greatest" is a subjective term, and "Landycakes" will continue to take flak for what's been perceived as "disloyalty" to the USMNT following his self-imposed 2013 sabbatical, but that episode shouldn't discredit his achievements. For anyone who doubts Donovan's status in American soccer lore: He's the highest scoring American in World Cup history, and the national team's all-time leading goal scorer and assister. Those numbers, and his talent, are undeniable.