With Howard the clear MVP in 2008, who has been the best USMNT field player?

Tim_howard_afp

Good morning all. While I work on some stories for a morning ticker, I wanted to direct you to my story on ESPN.com on Tim Howard and the Honda Player of the Year award, which goes to the MVP of the U.S. national team. Most people will agree that Howard is the runaway choice for the award, and while voters have gotten this award wrong in the past, I don’t think there will be a problem this year.

Since Howard is the clear favorite to win the award (voting closed for the award last week), my question to you this morning is the following: Who gets your second-place vote for 2008 Honda Player of the Year? Another way to put it is who do you think has been the most valuable field player for the U.S. national team this year? (The award is for play with the U.S. national team ONLY).

I know there are still three World Cup qualifiers to be played, but with the U.S. all but assured qualification with a win vs. Cuba, all of the really important national team games have already been played this year.

So who gets your vote? Why? Share your thoughts below.

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29 Responses to With Howard the clear MVP in 2008, who has been the best USMNT field player?

  1. gaucho says:

    Boca’s been pretty steady in the back, came up with a timely goal against Guatemala, and seems to always do the job game in, game out.

    Landon has had a generally good year by his standards, but hasn’t been scoring the way I would like. But that’s a defensible pick too.

  2. mig says:

    I was torn between the two central defenders. I chose Onyewu just because he made a few highly visible defensive plays but could have picked Bocanegra simply because the best resume item for a CB is to be invisible. But it has to be one of the two because the US team has given up 3 goals in the last 9 games.

    Donovan and Bradley have been very good but since the attack has struggled, it’s hard to vote for LD.

  3. roberto says:

    none… No one deserves it this year…maybe donovan but I’m tired of his face it annoys me. Howard is the one who deserves it the most. By far the best goalkeeper talentwise the US has produced. Together with Iker the 2 best in the world IMO… Buffon too ugly if he was better looking I might consider him

  4. Jimmy Bobo says:

    Didn’t Bradley score the most goals of any American in any European league in the 07-08 season? That’s hard to ignore. That is why he was my pick. His role with the Nats is a bit different than it was with Herenveen so he does not stand out as much.

  5. JK says:

    Either one of the central defenders. They both saved our tails on many occasions this year. Joint award for Boca and Gooch?

  6. Teddie Boy Eddie says:

    Boca, but sort of by default. No one has really stood out. But he has been very steady and got the goal in Guatemala.

  7. Phillip says:

    I went with Gooch.

  8. Tim F. says:

    To the twin towers: Gooch and Boca.

  9. EDB says:

    I went with Dempsey because if we are talking national team only. He has been the buy scoring..

  10. patrick says:

    Im as big dempsey fan as there is, and he’s had some flashes, but I think boca has been the most important to the team. If Bradley had actually played LESS i think hed have a better shot at it.

  11. james says:

    I will have to say Donovan because at the national team level he makes us better and my runner up is Adu even though he hasn’t had alot of playing time, the performances he has had with the USMNT are the reason USA probably did not look so bad against top level teams.

  12. kpugs says:

    I’m not surprised at the voting. Before I saw the pole, as I was reading, I literally thought “Bocanegra or Gooch?”

    Everyone has a bad game now and again, and most players have multiple bad games. But these two are the most consistently good players on our team, even if I wouldn’t call either the best American player. I went with Gooch over ‘Los. But it’s close.

    EDB…guess you missed the games where Dempsey was completely anonymous? It’s the MVP for the YEAR, not for the last two games. I love Dempsey as much as anyone, but come on now. You don’t win even made-up MVP awards playing the way he did for part of this year.

  13. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Jimmy bobo: only national team perfromance counts. Club form does not.

    I think it is Gooch by a pretty clear margin.

  14. Tony in Quakeland says:

    The mutual concensus on Bigsoccer, of course, is the one and only kenny Cooper…

  15. A.S. says:

    “Didn’t Bradley score the most goals of any American in any European league in the 07-08 season? That’s hard to ignore.”

    Huh? What does that have to do with the US National Team?

    Let’s look at the most important games of 2008 – Mex, England, Spain, Argentina, Guat, Cuba, T&T. Our National Team defense gave up 2 goals to Mexico, but only 3 goals in 3 games to England/Spain/Argentina, and 0 goals in WCQ to Guat/Cuba/T&T. Overall, that’s a pretty good defensive performance. Our offense, on the other hand, scored 2 goals against Mexico (neither by Bradley, Donovan or Dempsey), no goals at all against England/Spain/Argentina, and only 5 against Guat/Cuba/T&T (none by Donovan, one by Bradley, 2 by Dempsey). Gooch scored againt Mex and Boca against Guat.

    So I don’t see how you give it to Donovan – of the 7 biggest games of the season, he scored zero goals. Gooch and Boca scored as many as Bradley. At least Dempsey scored 2, but disappeared in the other matches.

    You’ve got to give it to Gooch or Boca. In the big games, the defense was excellent, and they scored as many as Bradley and more than Donovan.

  16. Max says:

    I have to say Bocanegra gets this one because of his steady play in the back, and a few big goals to his name as well. I do think though that Sacha Klejstan might be the emerging field player on the national team. He reminds me somewhat of Clint Dempsey at this point in time 4 years ago. We can only hope that Klejstan doesn’t get stuck on a bench for an awful team in Europe though – I don’t think anyone would take 2009 Deuce over 2006 Deuce.

  17. Nic D "The Texas 2 Stepper" says:

    I go with Gooch!

    He has been very good this calender year. Scored a phenomenal goal against Mexico!

    He is not very fast but he recovers from mistakes pretty “quickly”.

    Covers for Boca more than you know and is the BRUTE in our back line.

    AND His distribution out of the back has greatly improved.

    His game is growing and it showed against Mexico, Spain and Argentina’s attack!

    Hold it down, Big Fella’!

  18. Tim F. says:

    I guess the remaining couple of games this year will determine if the best field player is Gooch or Boca.

  19. Bah, I was impressed with the national team once in ’08 (v. ARG).

    We love our team here, and that’s a great thing, but we’re too quick to hand out praise. No progress was made this year. Let’s hold on the laurels until someone makes a real impact.

    (…I do like the idea of a write-in Kenny Cooper vote, though.)

  20. Bulldog says:

    According to this blog called Project 2010 that compiles match ratings (Ives’ included, I think), at least through qualification, it goes (of players listed above):

    Tim Howard – 7.00

    Oguchi Onyewu – 6.34

    Carlos Bocanegra – 6.33

    Michael Bradley – 6.27

    Clint Dempsey – 6.17

    Landon Donovan – 5.84

    Note again, this is only from their qualification matches (4-5 for each of them). But I think it seems to pretty much support the vote–Tim Howard is so far ahead he need not be included, Onyewu and Bocanegra are pretty close at the top… Donovan is the anomaly, I guess, but that could be where other non-qualification matches come in…or perhaps people are influenced by his great MLS form.

    Anyway, just thought that was interesting and that I’d share it.

  21. mig says:

    Well, as to progress, we won convincingly in Europe once (yes, a friendly but still), played Argentina to a standstill, breezed through WCQ, and weren’t embarrassed by the Euro 2008 winners. Only bad, bad game was vs. England and let’s face it…LD didn’t play.

    And I’ll take the 2009 Dempsey over the 2006 Dempsey. His defense and coverage of the field is vastly improved.

  22. EDB says:

    I saw those as well.. but qualifiers > friendlies..

    and boc and gooch have both been decent but how many times have people here complained about them as well… ill go with the guy who scores the goals and keeps up in qualifiers.. it would be different if we had a mid or someone else who really controls play..

    really we have a good keeper and decent defense but not much else as a nation at the moment.

  23. Bulldog says:

    I guess my point is that people get so down on our struggles holding possession and scoring goals that they forget that some of our players actually played pretty well, pretty consistently. Our center backs have been pretty good despite the flack people give them. Bradley’s been pretty good despite the yellow card criticism (yeah, I agree he makes some truly stupid tackles, but I looked and he gets fewer cards than you’d think). Considering the number of goals he’s scored for the US on top of his solid defense, I’d have to give the nod to Onyewu as the best field player.

  24. mig says:

    @EDB: in general, I think everyone agrees that Quals>Friendlies but since the US is in such a weak region (and weak group in this phase of quals), the friendlies start taking on more weight than usual.

    And let’s hope that Howard’s club form (or lack of it) doesn’t bleed into his MNT performances.

  25. the pantherr says:

    What on earth has Bradley done to merit being placed on this list? Suiting up shouldn’t be enough.

  26. Roberto says:

    the fact that you are all agreeing with defenders or goalkeepers says it all; the US under bob Bradley is extremely boring and lacking in the offensive … The numbers won’t show it either , but its my perception and I’m sure that its the same feeling for many of you.

    I don’t want to be bored watching the natl team. That game against my Argentina was the best match I saw the US play.. I wish they would duplicate that same “state of mind”in the real important matches against the “big” teams.

  27. mig says:

    LOL Pantherr…the population is split on the merits of young MB. I happen to fall into the camp that he is an excellent player who will continue to get better with experience. His tackling is rough but he has done a very good job as a d-mid for the team this year. The small number of goals allowed by the team reflects well on the d-mids as much as the defenders and keeper.

    Others will disagree.

  28. Ryan G says:

    Gooch and Boca are about tied for me. They are extremely consistent and tough in the center. They also work well together. I voted for Gooch, but I put Boca right equal with him.

    Our defense, especially in the center (Bradley gets included here too), is very strong.

  29. Derek says:

    Hasn’t Clint has scored in every qualifier? I don’t know how he’s become the least appreciated man in soccer.

    Gooch and Boca have been excellent.

    Landon is asleep.