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Google’s Most Searched Soccer Players/Teams of 2013; amazed two Americans top list?

Dec 17, 2013, 3:21 PM EDT

2012 MLS Cup - Houston Dynamo v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

Not Lionel Messi. Not Cristiano Ronaldo. Not Zlatan Ibrahimovic or even, for that matter, Alex Morgan. When it comes to Google’s most searched soccer players in the United States last year, an old but perhaps surprising name tops the list: Landon Donovan.

Okay, perhaps it’s not that surprising, but in a country where European soccer’s popularity still eclipses that of our domestic league, it’s interesting to see Donovan outranking stars with a bigger global profiles. But when you look back at the Galaxy star’s 2013, things start to make sense.

At the beginning of the year, it was unclear when Donovan would return to soccer, the soon-to-be 31-year-old going on walkabout through East Asia as he took some time away from the game. When he came back to Los Angeles, questions about his future shifted to worries about his international career, with fans asking when Donovan would get back into the U.S. Men’s National Team. Near season’s end, Donovan’s future in Major League Soccer was in doubt, though he eventually signed a new deal with the Galaxy.

Combine the stories, and you have the formula that vaults Donovan to the top of this list. Everyday, there was a question people wanted answered about the U.S.’s all-time leading scorer. And what do we do when we need answers? We “google” them.

With that in mind, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise Donovan tops Google’s list, just as it’s not shocking to see Clint Dempsey second. This is a U.S.-based list, after all. There’s nothing U.S. soccer fans care about more than their national team stars, even if we sometimes need lists like these to remind us.

Beyond that, the list of Top 10 most searched players  (as announced by Google) gets international, with Tim Howard‘s place the only exception:

1. Landon Donovan
2. Clint Dempsey
3. Wayne Rooney
4. Tim Howard
5. Luis Suárez
6. David Villa
7. Thierry Henry
8. Robin van Persie
9. Eden Hazard
10. John Terry

No Messi. No Ronaldo. Suck it, superstars.

Here are the Top 10 most searched teams, with six spots taken by Major League Soccer franchises:

1. Manchester United
2. Chelsea F.C.
3. Liverpool F.C.
4. Portland Timbers
5. Philadelphia Union
6. Real Salt Lake
7. FC Dallas
8. Arsenal F.C.
9. Columbus Crew
10. Houston Dynamo

  1. geojock - Dec 17, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    FC Dallas #7? Do their fans sit at home and search on google instead of going to games?

    • awsnavely - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:07 AM

      This is the comment of the week.

  2. randomhandle1 - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    What’s the significance of the bolded names in the first list? Why are those names specifically highlighted?

    • Richard Farley - Dec 17, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      That’s just our system making those names into hypertext links for Premier League players.

      • randomhandle1 - Dec 17, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        Ahh. I didn’t realize those were actually hyperlinks, thanks. (Still, your system missed a couple of Premier League players there. Your web execs may want to rethink the whole concept in general — the seemingly random bolding is kind of confusing in a context such as this.)

  3. mlsconvert88888 - Dec 17, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    With the build up to the World Cup this year, I’m sure Landon gets a lot of hits from people looking to relive the euphoria in Pretoria.

    I know if I’m ever feeling down, watching that turns my frown upside down.

  4. Dan Haug - Dec 19, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    In your description of why Donovan might be the most googled player in the US, you left out a couple of key on-the-field accomplishments that probably were big factors in boosting the numbers:
    1. Donovan may well be the only male international player in the world that is documented to have 50 goals and 50 assists in international play. He achieved that milestone in the Gold Cup, in which…
    2. He was named the player of the tournament, with 5 goals and 7 assists.
    3. He assisted one goal and scored the second against Mexico in the match that clinched the US birth in the 2014 World Cup.
    4. All of this came together to make this Donovan’s most productive year ever for the USMNT, with 8 goals and 8 asissts in just 10 matches (incidentally, one of the most productive years ever for any USMNT player).

    The interesting thing is that most people in the soccer intelligencia only seem to remember the stuff mentioned in the article above.

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