It wasn’t exactly a banner 12 months for the OT Faithful. Clint Dempsey, a three-time OT MVP and four-time OT XI honoree, moved to Seattle. Michael Bradley, another OT XI stalwart, stayed abroad but became ineligible. Stuart Holden got hurt and then for good measure got hurt again. Jozy Altidore made a move to Sunderland so disastrous that by the end of the year we were celebrating brief sub appearances as progress. Even Matt Taylor, an old OT favorite, had a down year by his 3. Liga Legend standards.
There were dark times, there is no denying.
It was so dark, I got really lazy and took my time doing this. I was all set to drop this on May 22, but then Landon happened so we needed some space.
But, without further delay, here comes the 2013-14 OT XI. As always, these are the best performances by first-team players (sorry, Julian Green) relative to respective leagues.
Tim Howard, Everton (England) [2nd appearance]
It wasn’t that long ago that many were calling for Brad Guzan to supplant the long-time Everton stalwart in goal for the national team, a sentiment no doubt boosted by Guzan’s inclusion over Howard in last year’s OT XI. However, Timmy had a bit of a bounceback year as the Toffees surged into 5th place in the Premier League. While some late losses left Everton a bit short of Champions League qualification, Howard was stellar throughout the year, with Everton finishing 2nd in the EPL in goals allowed. Also, I will be deleting my various tweets and other commentaries suggesting Guzan should usurp Howard with the Nats.
Fabian Johnson, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Germany) [2nd]
Will Packwood, Bristol Rovers/Birmingham City (England) [1st]
Tim Ream, Bolton Wanderers (England) [1st]
Geoff Cameron, Stoke City (England) [2nd]
Johnson returns to the OT XI for the 2nd time (previously in 2011-12), nominally at LB on paper. The dual-national wrapped up his tenure with Hoffenheim with another season of playing pretty much everywhere wide as Hoffenheim surged from the relegation playoff last year to mid-table this year. Johnson himself will be bouncing further up the table and joining Borussia Mönchengladbach. Packwood returned from a broken leg by initially going out on loan to League Two’s Bristol Rovers before returning to Birmingham and fighting his way into the starting lineup, earning the Football League Young Player of the Month for February. After a rough first full season in England, Ream rebounded to earn Bolton’s player of the year award while playing both centerback and leftback. Finally, with Dempsey gone and Jozy struggling, Geoff Cameron did a fine job carrying the flag of American field players in England, appearing in all but one Premier League match for the Potters.
Sacha Kljestan, Anderlecht (Belgium) [4th]
Alejandro Bedoya, Nantes (France) [3rd]
Danny Williams, Reading (England) [1st]
Despite missing out on the World Cup roster, long-time OT favorite Kljestan had a career-high eight goals while helping Anderlecht win its third consecutive Belgian title. Bedoya, a two-time OT XI honoree from his first stint in Sweden, made his return to the list following a successful move to Nantes that saw him score five goals, keep Nantes up after being promoted, and give himself a shot at starting in Brazil. While an injury with the national team caused him to miss several late matches (and helped cost Reading a shot at promotion), Danny Williams enjoyed an otherwise strong debut season in England and makes his first appearance on this squad.
Terrence Boyd, Rapid Vienna (Austria) [1st]
Aron Johannsson, AZ (Netherlands) [1st]
Christian Eissele Kemi Kings/Brage (Norway/Sweden) [1st]
What we have here is a trio of forwards who all hit 20 goals across all competitions last year. Boyd improved upon his Austrian debut total with 15 in league play and another five in Europa League. He also got two more sweet tattoos, making his old flag tattoo seem tame. Johannsson mostly picked up the slack with former teammate Altidore gone from AZ, scoring 17 in league play and 20 overall. Eissele, the only one of this group without a cap, dropped in 24 goals last season for Kemi Kings in Finland (mostly after the 2012-13 voting was tabulated) before moving to Brage in Sweden this year.
Geoff Cameron, D, Stoke City
While the Premier League continues to grow in popularity stateside, American outfield players have become increasingly rare. However, the best of them had himself a stellar year with the Potters. The jack-of-all-trades played primarily at right back as Stoke became less boring than historically regarded and surged into 9th place.
Goal of the Year
We’re going back to Finland here and the sweet goal by Miles Byass in a 1-0 win for JIPPO over Vikingit in April. Check it out in GIF and YouTube (1:08) below.
Performance of the Year
Tim Howard had six saves in a 1-0 win for Everton at Manchester United, the Toffee’s first win at Old Trafford since August 1992 and undoubtedly a sweet win over former manager David Moyes.
Thanks for waiting (both you the readers and Matt). Fire away in the comments on who we snubbed.
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