Appreciating the 3 best American imports to the Premier League

The United States is not renowned for its ‘soccer’ skill nor its production of top-class players, yet that’s not to say the Premier League hasn’t been graced with some fine talent from across the pond over the years.

Since its inception in 1992, the Premier League has seen 45 Americans feature in the division, some of whom have gone on to become real cult figures at their respective clubs.

With a rising crop of young talent beginning to emerge from the USA in recent years and take the leap into Europe, such as Weston McKennie at Juventus or Gio Reyna at Borussia Dortmund, it’s likely that influx of American imports is only set to filter into English football in the coming seasons.

Now that betting on football is growing in popularity in the US, let’s take a look at three of the best Americans to have played in the Premier League.

Brad Friedel

Perhaps it’s their familiarity with another kind of football that requires the use of hands, yet America has produced some top-class goalkeeping talent over the last few decades, none more so than Brad Friedel.

Of course, Tim Howard enjoyed a lengthy spell at Everton, while Brad Guzan turned out for Aston Villa in the top-flight, yet Friedel was by far the most talented of the lot and leads the way as the American with the most Premier League appearances, with 450 to his name.

Signed from Colombus Crew by Liverpool in 1997, the Ohio-born stopper would go on to make 31 appearances for the club in all competitions, before joining Blackburn Rovers in 2000, the club at that point plying their trade in the second tier, despite having only won the title a few years prior.

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It was at Ewood Park where he enjoyed the best spell of his career, helping the club to promotion in his debut campaign and eventually staying for eight years, memorably netting from a corner in a 3-2 defeat against Charlton, becoming just the second stopper to do so in Premier League history.

A move to Aston Villa followed in 2008, before the veteran joined Tottenham Hotspur three years later, where he would extend his remarkable run of consecutive league appearances, eventually reaching a total of 310 straight games.

He would remain at Spurs well into his forties, providing cover for first-choice stopper Hugo Lloris, before eventually calling it quits in 2015.

Clint Dempsey

Arguably the first name that comes to mind for many when discussing American talent in the Premier League, Clint Dempsey enjoyed an excellent six-and-a-half-year stint in English football, turning out for both Fulham and Spurs.

After joining the Cottagers in January 2007, the forward took time to adapt to life in England, netting just once for the remainder of the season, albeit with the goal coming against Liverpool in what was a pivotal win for the club’s survival hopes.

Under Roy Hodgson, Dempsey and Fulham would go on to finish seventh in 2008/09, before stunning Europe to reach the Europa League final the following season, having seen off Italian giants Juventus in the last-16 with a 4-1 second-leg comeback thrashing at Craven Cottage.

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Although they would go on to lose 2-1 in extra-time in the showpiece against Atletico Madrid, Dempsey etched his name in the record books by becoming the first American to feature in a major European final.

An impressive tally of 29 league goals over the next two seasons earned him a move to Tottenham in 2012, the player having also reportedly been the subject of interest from Liverpool, who are even said to have offered current captain Jordan Henderson as part of a swap deal.

While he would last just one season at White Hart Lane before moving back to the MLS, he would return for a brief loan spell at former club Fulham in 2014. He currently leads the way as the American with the most goals and assists in Premier League history, having netted 57 goals and registered 17 assists.

Christian Pulisic 

While Dempsey’s former Fulham teammate Brian McBride is another American to have enjoyed success in the top-flight, our final selection has to go to current Chelsea star Christian Pulisic.

The 22-year-old – who completed his move to Stamford Bridge from Borussia Dortmund back in January 2019 – may yet to have fully recognised his potential in his embryonic Blues career, but he is undoubtedly the most talented American import to have graced the Premier League.

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A teenage sensation in his time in Germany, the winger has suffered injury woes and had to bide his time for minutes under both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel, yet has shown flickerings of just how good he could be, despite only netting 13 Premier League goals in the last two seasons.

It may not be wise to make the comparison, but there is something Eden Hazard-esque about Pulisic’s game, particularly the way he can simply skip past defenders effortlessly with ease and wreak havoc from the left flank.

Ahead of what could be a big season for the Champions League winners, the young American will be hoping he can play a greater role for the west London club, as there’s no doubting he has the potential to become a star.

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