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U.S. World Cup all-time team

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The U.S. has played in nine World Cups, winning seven games, or the same number that Brazil won in 2002 alone, when it rolled to a record fifth title. But if the U.S. has struggled collectively on soccer's biggest stage, several players have stood out individually since Massachusetts' Bert Patenaude scored the first hat trick in tournament history in 1930. Here's one person's pick for the all-time U.S. World Cup team:

Goalkeeper

Brad Friedel (1994-2002): Only Tony Meola, with seven, has started more games in goal than Friedel. And no U.S. keeper has won more often.

Defenders

Marcelo Balboa (1990-98): The first American to reach 100 international caps, Balboa played in three World Cups, including every minute of the 1994 tournament held in the U.S. That narrowly earns him this spot over Alexi Lalas, who was dominant in the 1994 event but played in only one World Cup.

Eddie Pope (1998-2006): No U.S. defender has started more World Cup games than Pope's nine. He started every game in 2002, when the U.S. reached the quarterfinals.

Carlos Bocanegra (2006-10): Played two positions on the backline in South Africa, when he was captain of the first U.S. team to win its group since 1930.

Midfielders

Landon Donovan (2002-10): The national team's all-time leader in goals and assists, Donovan also holds U.S. records for most World Cup appearances (12) and most goals (five). His game-winning goal against Algeria in 2010 was one of the most memorable in U.S. history.

Claudio Reyna (1994-2006): The only U.S. field player to make four World Cup teams, Reyna became the third American to make the all-tournament team in 2002. He was captain of the U.S. in 2002 and 2006.

Earnie Stewart (1994-2002): Only Donovan has played more World Cup games for the U.S. than Stewart, whose second-half goal against Colombia helped the Americans make the second round in 1994.

Tab Ramos (1990-98): Cobi Jones played in two more World Cup games but Ramos gets the nod on this team because he had twice as many starts and played more minutes.

Forwards

Eric Wynalda (1990-98): Played in three World Cups, scoring his only goal against Switzerland in 1994 to give the U.S. a tie and a crucial point that helped it advance out of group play.

Brian McBride (1998-2006): Started 10 World Cup games, scoring the team's only goal in 1998. In 2002 his goal sent the Americans to the quarterfinals for the only time in the World Cup's modern era.

Patenaude (1930): Yes, the game was different before World War II, but Patenaude's hat trick remains the only one for a U.S. player in a World Cup. And he finished that tournament with four goals in three games.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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