In the ever-changing world of soccer, three months is an eternity. Need proof? Just look below. It's striking to see how dated our last ranking of the Top 25 American soccer players, posted in late December, already looks.
There's also significant movement farther down the list.
Gone are the likes of Eric Lichaj and Oguchi Onyewu, U.S. national team vets who simply aren't playing with their clubs. Missing too is former Yanks captain Carlos Bocanegra, who's stock with club (Racing Santander in Spain's second tier) and country has plummeted faster than Facebook's.
In their stead stand new names, even if some aren't all that new. World Cup 2002 veteran DaMarcus Beasley is here, for instance, as is Brek Shea, who got a fresh start in the English Premier League this winter after a dismal 2012. Maurice Edu debuts on the list -- he went from not dressing for months with Stoke to playing a major role with a quality team in Turkey that is challenging for a European spot. And there's a bigger Mexican influence this time around, as Edgar Castillo, Joe Corona, Herculez Gomez and Jose Torres all move up thanks to solid runs south of the border.
Of course, not everything has changed.
For one, Jurgen Klinsmann is still the U.S. coach. If that changes -- and it's a distinct possibility if the Yanks lose World Cup qualifiers to Costa Rica and Mexico over the next week -- so could the fortunes of some American players.
One of them is Landon Donovan, who stays at No. 3, right behind Dempsey and Bradley despite not playing a single game since the last list came out. Some will quibble with that decision, and an argument can be made that the idle Donovan shouldn't be here at all. That's fine, but the feeling here is that if Donovan is in the mood -- and we'll find out soon enough the impact his self-imposed sabbatical has had on his game -- the now-31-year-old still has what it takes to challenge for the top spot. Need proof? Check back in a few months.
Here is the latest list of the top 25 U.S. national team-eligible players. And remember: We're not trying to project what will happen years from now. This is a real-time look at the current pecking order within the U.S. player pool.
While Bradley lost his starting spot at Roma -- at least for now -- Dempsey has emerged as one of coach Andre Villas-Boas' most trusted players in a stacked Spurs squad that appears bound for the Champions League next season.
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