Best Black Soccer Players of All Time Rankings
Ranking the best Black Football Players in Black American History in honor of Black History Month
Black History Month
In honor of Black History Month, we celebrate the accomplished Black American soccer players who have left a lasting mark on the sport. From early pioneers to modern-day stars, these footballers have excelled on the field, breaking barriers and setting records.
These black stars have impressive career statistics, skills, and achievements that speak to their talent and dedication to the game. Despite facing discrimination and limited opportunities off the field, they persevered and left an indelible impact on American soccer.
Here are the top 10 all-time greatest black American soccer players, whose careers and skills stand the test of time.
Top 10 Best Black Soccer Players
10. Desmond Armstrong
The former American soccer defender and midfielder made history in 1990 as the first Black player born in the United States to represent the country in a World Cup game.
With a career that spanned three seasons in the Major Indoor Soccer League, one in the Brazilian First Division, two in the American Professional Soccer League, and two in USISL, Armstrong’s impact on the sport is undeniable.
He was a vital member of the United States national team from 1987 to 1994, making 81 appearances and being a part of the 1988 Summer Olympics team in Seoul, South Korea.
Despite never scoring a goal at the international level, Armstrong remains an iconic figure in American soccer history as the first African American to represent the U.S. at the World Cup.
9. James Riley
James Riley is a retired American professional soccer player who played as a defender. He is known for his versatility, being able to play as a fullback or a center-back.
He played for several clubs throughout his career including; Colorado Rapids, Seattle Sounders, D.C. United, and Chivas USA.
He played a key role in the Seattle Sounders’ U.S Open Cup win in 2009 and was also selected for the MLS All-Star team in 2009. He also represented the United States Men’s National Team in a few friendly matches.
8. Fabian Johnson
Fabian Johnson is a versatile player who has made a name for himself as a formidable defender and midfielder.
His speed and technical proficiency are hallmarks of his game, making him a key asset for both Borussia Monchengladbach and the US national team.
Throughout his career, Johnson has been known for his dependability and consistency, consistently delivering strong performances on the field.
He represented the USMNT at the 2014 World Cup and has amassed 57 caps altogether scoring 2 goals.
7. Jermaine Jones
Jermaine Jones is a retired American professional soccer player who made a name for himself as a hard-nosed and combative midfielder.
He played for several clubs throughout his career, including Schalke 04, Blackburn Rovers, and the New England Revolution, and also represented the United States Men’s National Team in three World Cups.
Jones was known for his physicality and tenacity on the field, as well as his ability to score goals from distance. He played a key role in the United States’ run to the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup.
6. Crystal Dunn
Crystal Dunn has established herself as one of the top players in the USWNT. As a versatile defender, she is known for her speed, agility, and technical skills.
Crystal began her professional career with the Washington Spirit and later moved to the Chelsea Ladies FC in England.
She then returned to the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and played for the North Carolina Courage and currently plays for the Portland Thorns.
With the national team, Crystal played a key role in the team’s World Cup victory in 2015 and the Olympic gold medal in 2012.
In 2015, she won the LATERAL Most Valuable Player and the Golden Boot awards, becoming the youngest player to win both awards at just 23 years old.
5. Cobi Jones
Cobi Jones is a retired American professional soccer player who played as a midfielder. He is widely considered one of the greatest American soccer players of all time.
Jones played for several clubs throughout his career, including the LA Galaxy and Coventry City. He also represented the United States Men’s National Team in three World Cups.
He is the all-time leader in appearances for the USMNT, having played 164 times and scoring 15 goals for his country.
Jones was known for his speed, technical ability, and versatility. He was also a leader on and off the field, known for his work ethic and sportsmanship.
Off the field, Jones is also known for his philanthropy and dedication to various charitable causes. He is a true legend in American soccer history and his contributions to the sport will be remembered for years to come.
4. DaMarcus Beasley
DaMarcus Beasley is a retired American professional soccer player who played as a left-back and a left-winger throughout his career.
He is widely considered one of the greatest American soccer players of all time. Beasley played for several clubs throughout his career, including the Chicago Fire, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester City, Rangers FC, Puebla, and Houston Dynamo.
He also represented the United States Men’s National Team in four World Cups and is the only USMNT man to have appeared in four World Cups earning 126 international caps altogether.
3. Briana Scurry
Briana Scurry is widely considered one of the greatest women goalkeepers ever. She was the starting goalkeeper for the United States women’s national team for over a decade, including during the team’s historic 1996 Summer Olympics and 1999 Women’s World Cup triumphs.
Scurry made a name for herself with her outstanding performances, including a key role in the team’s victory over China in the 1999 World Cup final, where she made several key saves in the shootout.
She became the first woman goalkeeper and black woman to be elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2017.
2. Shannon Boxx
Shannon Boxx is a retired American professional soccer player who played as a midfielder. She is widely considered one of the greatest American soccer players of all time, particularly for her outstanding performances for the United States Women’s National Team.
Boxx began her professional career with the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) and later joined the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league.
She played for several clubs throughout her career, including the Chicago Red Stars, Los Angeles Sol, and the magicJack.
With the USWNT, Boxx played in three World Cups and three Olympic Games, winning two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup.
Shannon Boxx was known for her tenacity, work rate, and her ability to dictate the play in the midfield.
1. Tim Howard
Tim Howard is a retired American soccer legend who left an indelible mark on the sport as one of the greatest goalkeepers to ever grace the field.
Throughout his illustrious career, Howard established himself as a top performer for clubs such as the MetroStars, Manchester United, and Everton, as well as the United States Men’s National Team.
He is particularly renowned for his time in the English Premier League where he won three domestic trophies, showcasing his skills and dominance as a goalkeeper.
Howard’s performance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup is also etched in history, where he set a World Cup record for most saves in a match with 15 against Belgium.
He retired as the most capped goalkeeper of all-time for the USMNT, with 121 caps since 2002.
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