MICHAEL BRADLEY, Midfielder
Michael Bradley’s growing influence in the team was on full display in 2012 with the midfielder demonstrating his ability to impact a game through precision passing, intelligent decision-making, timely tackles and impressive range on the field. The 25-year-old surpassed 70 caps, made eight appearances, and his 30-yard rocket against Scotland earned him a nomination for 2012 Best Goal of the Year. After quickly establishing himself as a leader at Chievo Verona in a season that he started 34 games, Bradley made the gigantic move to storied Serie A side AS Roma, where he has become a regular in the first team.
CLINT DEMPSEY, Forward
The USA’s most dynamic and creative attacker has also become one of its most consistent in big fixtures, and in 2012 he raised his game even further. He leads all U.S. scorers with six goals, and five of those came in the Semifinal Round of World Cup Qualifying. Adding to the import, Dempsey recorded three game-winners, including the decisive goal in the historic 1-0 victory in Italy. The four-time 2012 Budweiser Man of the Match winner now has 30 career goals, good for a third-place tie on the all-time U.S. list with Brian McBride. Deuce proved equally lethal at Fulham, scoring 17 league goals for a club record in a Premier League season, enough to become the all-time leading scorer at Fulham. On Aug. 31, Dempsey made the move across London to Tottenham Hotspur.
HERCULEZ GOMEZ, Forward
Herculez Gomez continued his renaissance with the U.S. Men’s National Team, establishing himself as a first-choice striker through a combination of determination and goalscoring prowess. A tireless and active worker, Gomez has recorded a career-high three goals, including his most important to date when he registered the game-winning goal in the 1-0 win against Jamaica in World Cup qualifying on Sept. 11 in Columbus, Ohio. He earned Budweiser Man of the Match honors as the lone scorer in the USA’s 4-1 loss to Brazil and notched the insurance goal in the 3-1 win against Antigua & Barbuda that opened the Semifinal Round. After joining Mexican club Santos Laguna, he scored 11 goals in his first 12 games across all competitions. He has added another four in this season’s Apertura in Liga MX.
TIM HOWARD, Goalkeeper
Time and again the USA’s undisputed No. 1 goalkeeper has kept the team in games with timely saves, often of the spectacular variety. His leadership is equally valuable in marshaling the defense as it is in the locker room. Howard has started 11 games this year, a team high, and his Budweiser Man of the Match performance against Mexico led to the USA’s first victory against El Tri on their home soil in 70 years and 25 attempts. With 83 caps, he is now third on the USA’s all-time list of appearances among goalkeepers, moving past Brad Friedel. He also holds third place in career shutouts with 25 clean sheets. As the man at the back for Everton, he has set a Premier League record for most consecutive matches with one team and also holds the mark for the most clean sheets in a year for the club. Howard even put his name on the scoresheet, scoring against Bolton Wanderers.
FABIAN JOHNSON, Defender
Playing a position that has flummoxed the U.S. for many years, Fabian Johnson has been a revelation. Pulling on a U.S. Men’s National Team jersey for the first time in the fall of 2011, he has been deployed at left back for both club and country. Johnson has the full package, displaying tenacity and smarts defensively and possessing speed, skill on the ball and crossing ability in the attack. He played seven matches and registered two assists, including the ball that set up Clint Dempsey’s goal in a 1-1 draw in Guatemala in World Cup qualifying. Johnson has snatched the starting spot at Hoffenheim, where according to Jurgen Klinsmann he has become one of the best left backs in the Bundesliga.