Over the past nine years, Tim Howard has been the face of American soccer in the English Premier League. Howard was a solid performer at Manchester United before joining Everton in 2006; since then, he has been considered one of the top goalkeepers in the EPL and his quality has been lauded around the world. However, Howard is no longer the only American turning heads among soccer fans across the pond.
Clint Dempsey joined Fulham in 2007 after starring in the MLS. His first four years in the EPL were full of promise and some highlights, but short on consistent production. In 2009, he scored a highlight reel goal against Juventus in the Europa League Round of 16 that helped lead them to an historic victory. Last season, Dempsey scored 12 goals for Fulham and looked like a star in the making going into this season. And oh, what a season it has been. Dempsey has scored 16 goals so far during this campaign - 10 during the EPL season and six more during FA Cup matches. His hat-trick against Newcastle last month was the first ever scored by an American in a top-flight European league. He now holds the all-time record for goals scored by an American in the EPL, and Dempsey shows no signs of slowing down. The only question surrounding Dempsey now is whether or not he will remain with Fulham during the summer off-season transfer window, as he has expressed interest in playing for a Champions League-caliber team and Fulham is not playing near that level.
Landon Donovan is enjoying his loan tour with Everton this season. After helping lead the L.A. Galaxy to the MLS Cup Championship, Donovan joined Everton for the second time in his career on a short-term loan. Since the start of his eight-week tour, Donovan has played every minute of his seven matches with Everton, and has assisted on five goals. This past Tuesday, Donovan fed Darron Gibson for the only goal of their win against Manchester City, which dealt a severe blow to City's chances at an EPL title, while catapulting Everton into the top half of the table. Donovan's pace and passes have helped improve Everton's attack tremendously.
Howard, Dempsey, and Donovan are the players the USMNT will be relying on heavily as World Cup Qualifying begins this summer. It has been a real treat watching them succeed at the highest level possible over these past few weeks, and a continuation of these results will help them not only prepare for an important summer, but serve to continue elevating the reputation of U.S. soccer throughout the world.