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ASN 100 Q&A

The Top 100 U.S. Soccer Players Right Now: A Chat

ASN 100 panelist Josh Deaver is never one to mince words. Here, he and American Soccer Now founder John Godfrey discuss the best players in Jurgen Klinsmann's talent pool—from Fabian to Julian.
BY John Godfrey Posted
December 18, 2015
11:00 AM
John Godfrey: So what do you think of the latest ASN 100

Josh Deaver: Everything is in its right place, but it does dramatically underline the "mile-wide, inch-deep" U.S. player pool at the moment. The fact that Darlington Nagbe moves into the top seven based on receiving his eligibility and playing in two matches tells you all there is to know. Not saying he doesn't deserve to be there—I had him at No. 9—but everything after Fabian at No.1 is up for debate.
Godfrey: Let's get sensitive for a moment. When you look at the Top Ten, what do you feel?
Deaver: Vindicated. For all the blogging heads that put the woes of the national team solely at the feet of Jurgen Klinsmann, just take a look at the top 10-15 and tell me that the United States possesses anything more than a middling international talent that will, undoubtedly, produce middling results. Add in a middling coach and it's a fait accompli. This is who "we" are.

Godfrey: So you wouldn't expect wildly different results if, say, Benny Feilhaber and Eric Lichaj and Matt Hedges were first-team regulars?

Deaver: In short, no. While I feel like these guys deserve a chance, I don't believe the difference in skill level between them and others at their position is something that would prevent the Americans from, say, getting absolutely waxed by Brazil again. Hell, the difference might not even have been enough to progress further in the Gold Cup. Nit-picking a roster selection made from a player pool this shallow is just an exercise in contrarianism and/or fantastical subjectivity. Slightly better or worse on any given day, they are still replacement-level players. The U.S. isn't leaving home any world beaters because we don't have any. Although I might disagree with some calls, I'm willing to accept a coach's preference in this regard. Do I think Sacha Kljestan is better than Mix Diskerud? Yes. Would I like to see him back in the national team? Yes. Do I know his presence would've made a huge difference in 2015? "No" is the only honest answer.
Godfrey: Do you have a coach in mind who could do more with less?

Deaver: You want me to say Bob Bradley, right?

Godfrey: Not even a little.

Deaver: I have no doubt that certain coaches are better than others at identifying and nurturing talent. However, in Klinsmann's defense he hasn't done a bad job, all things considered. Keeping relative stasis during a transitional talent period should be lauded. He is, after all, without a certain luxury of his predecessor—several players in their prime who would, without a doubt, easily walk into and improve the starting XI of the 2016 U.S. men's national team. Back to your question: I have no specific names on the coaching front but I think the goal of U.S. Soccer, after Klinsmann flies off into the sunset, should be to bring in a true outsider to get fresh eyes on the program. I enjoy the uncertainty and unfamiliarity that a Klinsmann-type brings and the last thing I want is a safe re-tread.
Godfrey: You have Fabian Johnson as your No. 1-ranked  player. Why?
Deaver: He's the only American, aside from an under-20 keeper in Norway, playing any significant minutes in a European tournament. He's completely balling out in Germany and scoring goals. Nuff said. Geoff Cameron is ranked second, and frankly, it isn't even close.
Godfrey: Who is the most overrated player on this list?
Deaver: I was guilty of this as well, but after further deliberation several parts of me want to say Jozy Altidore. By this point, we now who he is—mercurial to the max. His MLS numbers don't suggest he is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the forward pool and with the emergence of Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris it's time that Altidore is no longer automatically penciled in to U.S. lineups. Or among the top tier of the ASN 100, for that matter.

Godfrey: No argument here. The default setting needs to be changed. So who needs to be pushed higher up the list?

Deaver: I know everyone loves to hate Julian Green, but No. 97 is way too low. He's the top producing U-23 player outside of MLS with eight goals for the Bayern U-23 team. While he hasn't exactly set the world on fire, his talent and skill deserves a higher mark. To me, it's a classic case of a market over-correction when it comes to my voting colleagues. Speaking of U-23's, Jordan Morris should be much closer to the top 30 than the middle of the pack. Some other candidates: Alfredo Morales (#28), Alejandro Guido (#95), Tim Parker (#99).

Name one player who failed to make the list and argue on his behalf. 
Deaver: Lynden Gooch. I had the Sunderland youth prospect at No. 83 which admittedly might be a little high. However, with an impressive output in the U-21 Premier League (seven goals, five assists, two drawn PKs) as well as earning his much-ballyhooed first team debut earlier in the season, Gooch is a rising star. If he doesn't receive a call-up for U2-3 Olympic qualifying in March, it should be considered a significant snub by U.S. Soccer decision-makers.

Click on the "Age" filter and select "Youngest." This re-sorts the ASN 100 list from youngest to oldest. Do you like what you see?
Deaver: First thought: I'm glad these players can get some recognition. The ranking of youth players is tough, but beside Julian Green being too low, there is nothing egregious. I don't have players like Alashe (#91) and Polster (#76) as high as they are on the ranking, but at this level its tough to be anything more than a subjective decision. In that vein, I thought young players like Gooch, Jose Villarreal, Gboly Ariyibi, and Amando Moreno should be included.
Now do the same but click "Oldest" and tell us your thoughts.
Deaver: First thought: when do we start seeing the phasing out of Jones, Dempsey, and Beckerman? Second thought: It's sad that Chris Wondolowski's legacy will be determined by The Miss. Sixteen goals this season—his sixth consecutive season with 10+ goals. (That's never been done before, by the way.) One more comparable season and he's likely cemented himself as the most most efficient and reliable goal scorer in league history. Nobody is talking about it yet but he has a real chance to beat Donovan's goal scoring record before it's all said and done. 
Josh Deaver is must-follow on Twitter, soccer people.

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