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The Top Five US performers during Group G play at the 2014 World Cup

Jun 26, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Kyle Beckerman AP

The only number that truly matters is 16, which is the number of teams left that can win the World Cup. The United States is one of those teams, but who is most responsible for the team’s success during a second-place finish in Group G?

5. Fabian Johnson – Dazzling at times during the stage, Johnson is at his best moving forward. His defensive responsibilities and how he lives up to them keep him from placing higher on the list. Against Belgium, he could be a menace and a real key to if and how the game opens up for the States.

4. Matt Besler – The 27-year-old has seen his international star rise during this tournament, and European clubs will take note of the job he did against Thomas Muller against Germany. Besler had precious few errors and recalled former USMNT captain Carlos Bocanegra’s prime at times. The US needed a rock in the middle, and Besler has answered the call fairly well.

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3. Clint Dempsey – Playing two matches with a broken nose, Deuce was a versatile, dangerous workhorse. All the worries after his struggles at Tottenham and during the early days in Seattle seem like ages ago, as the Texan even filled in admirably as the man up-top against Portugal.

source: AP2. Tim HowardPerhaps you’d like him to be better on both of Portugal’s goals, but that ‘2’ figure would’ve been much higher without his middle-match heroics. Howard also made a number of beautiful saves in the Germany match, and perhaps American fans won’t truly know how much they love Howard until they’ve seen a full-time USMNT keeper just a notch below.

1. Jermaine Jones – The World Cup has raised the 32-year-old’s game to another level, one we’ve rarely seen from the German-American since he made the one-time switch the the USMNT a few years back. He’s shown dogged determination, mostly avoided the fouls and cards that plagued him in qualification and even scored a stunning goal that will live in American soccer history.

Jones has arguably been the best American player in each match of the tournament, and I’ll admit shock at writing those words. He’s been the go-to orchestrater for his coach, and is rewarding Jurgen Klinsmann for his faith, and making his boss look smarter. For that alone, we’re sure JK would also put him at No. 1.

  1. dws110 - Jun 26, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    There’s no way I could list all the ways Jermaine Jones has proven me dead wrong so far this World Cup. He has been the best US outfield player by a country mile. I never thought I would say this, but he as been composed as a symphony out there. I don’t know if it’s because Bradley is struggling a little bit, or if Beckerman is taking up some of his defensive responsibilities, but Jones has been a complete revelation thus far.

    Speaking of Beckerman, how freakin’ good has he looked?

    • skjln - Jun 26, 2014 at 9:03 PM

      Agreed. Jones and Beckerman are the reason we are advancing.

      • wwsiralexd - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:31 AM

        I too was wrong about Jones and Beckerman. Coach Klinsmann has played them perfectly.

  2. skr213 - Jun 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    Omar Gonzalez deserves some attention as well. He made at least 3 game-saving plays in the box during the Germany game.

  3. heynyc61 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    You don’t mention Guillermo Ochoa? How unbiased of you

    • Nicholas Mendola - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:18 PM

      US performers. He plays for Mexico, which you know.

  4. heynyc61 - Jun 26, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    You don’t mention Guillermo Ochoa? Really? Seriously?

  5. heynyc61 - Jun 27, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    Yes my bad…. I didn’t read the heading sorry

  6. mcba1n - Jun 27, 2014 at 2:09 AM

    Calling Deuce a “horse” makes all horses on the planet weep. He was great for abut 30 mins — more than I figured he’d give. Guys on the bench ran for longer distances harder, IMO. Cannot fade the big goals, though. Clint is nowhere near the horse Bradley(who cannot play his role) was, but somehow produced more.

  7. homeschoolartmama - Jun 27, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    Omar Gonzalez played a wonderful game frustrating muller and comp. almost every time. For me he should be at least three or higher on this list,

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