While a number of foreign clubs have deployed multiple Americans through the years – Rangers and Everton immediately come to mind – no club outside the U.S. has recognized the value of MNT players as much English side Fulham FC has.
Take a look at the nine players that have helped make up “Fulhamerica” the past two decades:
Marcus Hahnemann (1999-02)
Joining Fulham in June 1999, the goalkeeper holds the distinction of being the first U.S. player to sign with the Cottagers, but was limited to just four competitive appearances in three seasons. While he didn’t find much playing time at Fulham, the move did help him get a foothold in the English game, as a loan stint to Reading during the 2001-02 season earned him making a permanent move to the Royals, whom he later helped gain promotion to the Premier League during the 2005-06 season.
Eddie Lewis (2000-02)
The second U.S. player at Fulham, Lewis arrived at Craven Cottage as a regular with the National Team during Bruce Arena’s early tenure as MNT head coach. He moved to London in March 2000, but played sparingly as the club earned promotion to the Premier League the following season.
While things weren’t meant to be with Lewis and Fulham, like Hahnemann the left winger used his time in west London to establish himself in England and later became a key piece with Preston North End and Leeds United before playing in the Premier League with Derby County during the 2007-08 season.
Carlos Bocanegra (2004-08)
The second wave of American signings began arriving on the shores of the River Thames when defender Carlos Bocanegra signed on a free transfer from Chicago Fire. Just as he often did with the U.S. MNT, Bocanegra showed his versatility at Craven Cottage, moving between center back and left back and even making some spot appearances in defensive midfield when needed.
The future U.S. captain played parts of five seasons for the club and was vital in helping Fulham stay in the Premier League during their 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns.
The highest scoring defender in MNT history, Bocanegra registered a goal in every season but his first at Craven Cottage, and during the 2006-07 season his five goals actually placed him second on the team in scoring behind a fellow American teammate…
After the club successfully avoided relegation in 2008, Bocanegra departed for French Ligue 1 side St. Etienne, leaving Craven Cottage having made 133 appearances and adding eight goals across all competitions.
Brian McBride (2004-08)
A week after Bocanegra signed with Fulham, veteran U.S. forward Brian McBride also arrived in west London. Having taken previous loan stints to Preston North End and Everton, McBride was no stranger to the English game and went on to make 19 appearances and score five goals during his first half season with Fulham.
During the next few seasons McBride built upon the workmanlike reputation he developed with Columbus Crew SC and the U.S. MNT, becoming a fan favorite with the Fulham faithful as he scored a minimum of nine competitive goals through three different seasons for the Cottagers.
In 2005-06, McBride’s 10 goals made him the first American to reach double digits in the English Premier League. The following season he led the team with 12 goals in 42 competitive appearances as the Cottagers narrowly avoided relegation. In 2007-08, he returned from a broken kneecap suffered early in the season to help Fulham stay up once again. In both seasons, he was named Fulham’s Player of the Year.
Having tallied 40 goals in more than 150 matches for the club, McBride departed Fulham following “The Great Escape” of 2008. The U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer sits tied with Steed Malbranque as the club’s second all-time leading Premier League goal scorer with 32.
He’s still highly regarded around Craven Cottage as well, with the club renaming a lounge inside the stadium as “McBride’s” in June 2009.
Clint Dempsey (2007-12; 2014)
Fulham continued to tap the U.S. market, making their biggest splash when they landed the signature of rising U.S. star Clint Dempsey in January 2007. Though the MNT attacker didn’t gain a starting spot early, he did write his name in Fulham lore during his initial campaign. In the 49th minute of the club’s home finale that season against Liverpool, Dempsey scored the game’s only goal – his first in a Fulham shirt – as the Cottagers went on to win 1-0 and confirm their place in the Premier League for another season.
From that point forward, Dempsey was a regular at Craven Cottage for the next five seasons, scoring no less than six league goals per campaign. Aside from his 2007 goal in the shutout of Liverpool, Dempsey will best be remembered for a stunning chip that served as the series-winning goal in Fulham’s 5-4 aggregate win against Italian giants Juventus in the Round of 16 of the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League. Fulham went all the way to the championship match of that year’s competition, and Dempsey became the first American to play in a major European final as Fulham fell 2-1 in extra time to Atletico Madrid.
WATCH: Clint Dempsey's Stunning Chip vs. Juventus
The following season, Dempsey tallied 12 goals to break McBride’s scoring record by an American in the Premier League, only to smash it the next season when he bagged 17, tying for fourth in scoring in the league behind only Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Sergio Agüero.
Following that campaign, Dempsey transferred to Tottenham Hotspur and then to his current club Seattle Sounders FC, but he did make a brief loan return to Craven Cottage in January 2014 as he prepared for that year’s FIFA World Cup.
With 50 goals, Dempsey holds the distinction as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer in the English Premier League goal by some margin over McBride and Steed Malbranque (32 each).
Kasey Keller (2007-08)
Having signed with Millwall in 1992, Keller ended his long stay in Europe by joining McBride, Bocanegra and Dempsey at Craven Cottage before the start of the 2007-08 season.
The four-time World Cup veteran ‘keeper split time in goal with Finnish international Antti Niemi that season, but did play in many of Fulham’s games down the stretch. On the final day of the season, Keller memorably brought down the curtain on his 16 European campaigns when he earned a clean sheet in a 1-0 win at Portsmouth, which helped the club avoid relegation for a second-straight year.
Eddie Johnson (2008-11)
Eddie Johnson became the fifth American on the books at Fulham when he departed U.S. MNT January Camp to sign at Craven Cottage in early 2008. The 2006 FIFA World Cup veteran played 19 matches during three seasons with the club, spending much of that time out on loan to the likes of Cardiff City, Aris Thessaloniki and Preston North End before returning to M.L.S. with Seattle Sounders FC in 2012.
Emerson Hyndman (2011-16)
After rising through the FC Dallas Academy, Emerson Hyndman moved to London to join the Fulham Academy as a 15-year-old in 2011.
Hyndman rose through the club’s development setup and joined the first team ahead of the 2014-15 campaign. He went on to play 30 games during two seasons at Craven Cottage before transferring to Bournemouth last summer.
Tim Ream (2015-present)
After four seasons in England with Bolton Wanderers, center back Tim Ream made the switch to Fulham ahead of the 2015-16 campaign. The U.S. defender has been a solid contributor for the Cottagers ever since, appearing in 29 matches last season and 33 this year, serving as a lynchpin in the heart of the Fulham defense.
Ream recently penned this essay on what it’s been like to experience Fulham’s chase for promotion to the English Premier League.