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Premier League: The best Americans to play in England's top flight

American players have been a staple of the English Premier League over the years, from 90s trailblazer John Harkes to stars like Tyler Adams and Matt Turner, the USMNT has had a consistent presence in England.

However, just who are the greatest US players to ply their trade in England? 

With plenty to choose from, we’ve picked out five American stars who stand out above the rest.

5. Christian Pulisic

If Christian Pulisic had extended his spell with Chelsea - or made the often-linked switch to Liverpool - he could have comfortably topped this list.

He’s the most talented American to land in English football, but it never quite clicked for him in London.

The winger silenced any doubters with a brilliant debut in Italy for Milan recently and at times he looked fantastic in Chelsea blue.

His hat-trick at Burnley in 2019 was the kind of complete performance you’d hope for from a superstar winger, while he excelled after the restart later in that campaign.

However, it all went a bit downhill after that debut season and he departed for AC Milan after one of Chelsea’s worst-ever Premier League campaigns.

He chipped in with just one goal in 24 appearances in his final season, leaving a feeling of untapped potential which makes it hard to put him any higher than fifth.

4. Brian McBride

There are plenty of American players who have reached cult hero status for their respective Premier League clubs. Of those players, probably the only one to make this list is Fulham’s Brian McBride.

The centre-forward landed in England with Preston North End before a loan spell at Everton. McBride scored four times in eight appearances for the Toffees in 2002/03, returning to MLS shortly afterwards.

The Cottagers snapped him up for $1.5 million in January 2004 and he spent four-and-a-half years in west London.

He was at his peak between 2005 and 2007, scoring 18 league goals across those two campaigns, playing a key role in keeping Fulham up and doing enough to have a bar within Craven Cottage named in his honour. 

3. Tim Howard

One of the most impressive things about Tim Howard is that he bounced back from a tough start to have a brilliant 13-year Premier League career.

There was enormous pressure on Howard when he arrived at Manchester United in 2003. He didn’t have the best time at Old Trafford, with the Red Devils going through a transitional phase at the time.

Howard ultimately proved to be a stop-gap between Fabien Barthez and Edwin van der Sar, but he made 32 appearances in 2003/04 for a United side who conceded just 35 times.

His Premier League career took off at Everton, where he made 354 appearances. The goalkeeper even scored during the 2011/12 season.

Howard was the keeper for a successful period at Everton, playing for the Toffees in Europe and also appearing in the 2009 FA Cup final.

He moved back to MLS in 2016 when he fell out of the Everton side, but he put together a brilliant Premier League career while making 121 international appearances.

2. Clint Dempsey

Clint Dempsey carved out a good Premier League career over seven seasons, but he’ll be forever remembered for one of the greatest moments in Fulham’s history.

Dempsey’s incredible goal against Juventus during the Cottagers’ run to the 2010 Europa League final is enough on its own to establish him in club folklore. 

However, he also scored 61 goals for Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur between 2006 and 2013. He was twice named Fulham’s player of the season, signing off with a brilliant 21-goal haul in 2011/12.

He set a new standard for American outfield players in the Premier League and is remembered fondly at Fulham and beyond. 

1. Brad Friedel

Brad Friedel spent an incredible 18 years in England, sticking around after numerous attempts to break into English football.

After leaving UCLA, the goalkeeper tried to sign with Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United and Sunderland. He failed to get a work permit on each occasion, before finally arriving at Liverpool in 1997 via Brondby and Galatasaray.

Friedel went on to spend eight seasons at Blackburn Rovers. He helped establish the club in the Premier League, played in Europe and was named man of the match when they won the 2002 League Cup final.

The keeper then spent three seasons at Aston Villa and played into his 40s at Tottenham. Between 2004 and 2012, he made 310 consecutive appearances in the league across three clubs - a record for a goalkeeper.

For a time Friedel was among the best keepers in England and he deserves full credit for a long, consistent career in England that has put him top of this list.

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