Wynalda: Still the Best US Forward of Modern Times

The 2-0 scoreline in favor of the United States in last night’s friendly in Carson, CA was a nice scoreline for the United States, but mistakes in the final third and some breakdowns defensively will have to be corrected going forward. Landon Donovan broke the record for most goals by a US National Team player with 35, but that number would put him sixth on the all time Mexican list (including behind three guys who have played in MLS) so the record owes itself to the ineptitude of American finishing through the years. Also, I can say this with some confidence since I watch both careers closely: Eric Wynalda whose record Donovan broke was a much more significant and accomplished player on the National Team level than Donovan. Wynalda scored many of his goals in more critical situations. We all recall the great free kick goal against Switzerland in World Cup 1994, but his play in Copa America 1995 where he carried and willed the US Team to a Semifinal appearance seems to have been forgotten by some. “Waldos” hold up play and set piece kick taking were also superior to Donovan’s. It is entirely possible when Donovan retires his overall body of work will be superior to Wynalda’s, but right now I don’t think he can be favorably compared to Wyanlda. Eric Wynalda excelled at a time when it was difficult to win acceptance as an American, and his game evolved to the point where he could have played anywhere on the pitch and been successful. The one knock I have against Wynalda was that by the time he was thirty he couldn’t play at even a passable level anymore. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen with Donovan.

Interestingly I would make the same argument that I do about Donovan about Brian McBride, third all time on the US goal scoring list. McBride is a nice player no doubt. But McBride unlike Wynalda was more of a threat in the air and off crosses in open play (such as his goal in World Cup 2002 against Portugal off a nice cross by Tony Sanneh) than a multi dimensional, all season player. McBride, I would rank third among American attacking players of the last twenty years. Here are my very subjective rankings: (Keep in mind in the previous US setups under Bora Milutinnovic and Steve Sampson, Earnie Stewart and Cobi Jones at times played a withdrawn forward position so please don’t make the comments “oh they were simply midfielders.”

1- Eric Wynalda

2- Joe Max Moore

3- Brian McBride

4- Earnie Stewart

5- Landon Donovan

6- Bruce Murray

7- Roy Wegerle

8- Cobi Jones

9- Frank Klopas

10 (tie) – Josh Wolff ; Paul Caliguiri (before he moved to the back line)

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  1. 90 Minutes January 20, 2008
  2. JRT January 20, 2008
  3. eplnfl January 20, 2008
  4. Football Detective January 20, 2008

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