We mentioned it easier today: Gedion Zelalem, loaned from Arsenal to Rangers, is stepping into a distinguished history of United States internationals at Ibrox Stadium. Though only five names long, the list includes some of the most impressive names the U.S. have ever produced – names that have 390 caps and 11 World Cup spots to their credit.
Sneakily, Beasley may have accumulated the most impressive resume of the five. Recently un-retired with the U.S. national team, Beasley is the men’s active leader in appearances (his 122 ranking fifth all-time). A starter at left back during Brazil 2014, Beasley is the only American to appear in four World Cups: 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.
During his time at Ibrox, Beasley won four major honors — two leagues, one Socttish Cup, and one League Cup — though his European career may be best remembered for his time with PSV Eindhoven, where he was part of a team that made the UEFA Champions League semifinals.
Having also spent time with the Chicago Fire (Major League Soccer), Manchester City (Premier League), Hannover (Bundesliga) and Puebla (Liga MX), Beasley is currently the starting left back for MLS’s Houston Dynamo.
Few can talk about the best U.S. players ever without bringing up Reyna, who was also named to four World Cup squads (playing in 1998, 2002 and 2006 after not registering any minutes in 1994). At one time, however, Reyna had a nearly undisputed case as having America’s best club resume, having made stops with Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg (both Bundesliga), Rangers, Sunderland and Manchester City (both Premier League) before retiring with MLS’s New York Red Bulls.
Reyna spent two-plus seasons in Glasgow between Germany and England, making 95 appearances and scoring 11 goals as a regular in manager Dick Advocaat’s midfield. The current New York City FC technical director also won his career’s only two major honors while in Glasgow: the 1999-2000 Scottish Premier League, and the 1999-2000 Scottish Cup.
Like Beasley and Reyna, Bocanegra has also had the honor of wearing the U.S. armband, but perhaps more than the others, the national team captaincy came to define Bocanegra’s career. For six years surrounding the 2010 World Cup, the UCLA product led the U.S., serving as an anchor in Bob Bradley’s defense during a Round of 16 appearance at South Africa 2010.
Throughout a 12-year national team career, ‘Boca’ recorded 110 caps and 14 goals, the latter a record for defenders. He also was a part of two Gold Cup-winning teams and helped led the U.S. to second place at the 2009 Confederations Cup.