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USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012081 American Way American+Way USA

It was a stellar year for American players plying their trades in leagues around the world. There were some familiar faces among the best of them, such as Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard, but several players who joined new clubs this past season saw their changes in scenery work out excellently.


From DaMarcus Beasley’s foray in Mexico, Michael Bradley’s solid season in Serie A, to Jozy Altidore’s outstanding season in the Dutch League, several Americans enjoyed successful transfers.


For Bradley and Altidore, the past European campaign saw them each enjoy some of the best seasons of their young careers, giving each the sort of experience and confident that should make both key figures in the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifying campaign.


So which American players enjoyed the best seasons playing abroad? Here are Fox Soccer’s picks for our Americans Abroad Best XI for the 2011/2012 season:

David Butler II - USA TODAY Sports
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31007546 Brad Friedel, GK, Tottenham Hotspur Brad+Friedel%2C+GK%2C+Tottenham+Hotspur USA

Friedel’s first season with Tottenham was a special one, as he posted 14 shutouts and reached the 300 consecutive Premier League starts mark, playing every Premier League minute for Spurs as they finish fourth in the Premier League. The 40-year-old netminder was once again one of the steadiest goalkeepers in England, carrying Spurs to the verge of a Champions League berth.


Tim Howard was another worthy candidate, posting 12 shutouts to help Everton rally for a seventh place finish in the Premier League.

- Getty Images
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012087 Fabian Johnson, D, TSG Hoffenheim Fabian+Johnson%2C+D%2C+TSG+Hoffenheim USA

The German-born U.S. national team newcomer enjoyed a stellar first season with TSG Hoffenheim, starting out in midfield before settling in as a marauding left back for the Bundesliga club.


The former Wolfsburg midfielder recorded two goals and four assists for Hoffenheim and helped the club solidify its defense, while also establishing himself as a left back option for the U.S. national team.

Valerio Pennicino - AP Images
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012083 Oguchi Onyewu, D, Sporting CP Oguchi+Onyewu%2C+D%2C+Sporting+CP USA

Though a knee injury cost him a chunk of the second half of the Portuguese League season, Onyewu was still enough of a first during the season’s first half to make our Best XI.


Onyewu showed a penchant for scoring dramatic goals, tallying five in all competitions, as well as dominating defensively for a Sporting CP side that finished fourth in the Portuguese League and advanced to the semifinal round of the Europa League.

Jim O'Connor - USA TODAY Sports
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012082 Timmy Chandler, D, Nuremberg Timmy+Chandler%2C+D%2C+Nuremberg USA

The leader among the German-based American contingent in games played, Chandler was a key figure in Nurnberg’s 10th-place finish in the Bundesliga. He managed one goal and two assists, but his tireless work at right back made him one of his team’s leaders in games started.


Chandler parlayed his second season at Nuremberg into a contract extension with the club that signed him away from Eintracht Frankfurt two years ago.

Don McPeak - USA TODAY Sports
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31009479 Michael Parkhurst, D, FC Nordsjaelland Michael+Parkhurst%2C+D%2C+FC+Nordsjaelland USA

The Danish League doesn’t get the exposure that larger leagues like the Premier League and Serie A receive, but Parkhurst’s exploits with FC Nordsjaelland deserve mention on a Best XI for the season. He has been a pillar of strength at right back for the Danish side, and has the club vying for the league title as well as a UEFA Champions League spot.


Parkhurst’s stellar play at Nordsjaelland earned him a U.S. national team call during the winter and he could be called in yet again by Jurgen Klinsmann this summer.

Jennifer Hilderbrand - USA TODAY Sports
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012080 Michael Bradley, MF, Chievo Verona Michael+Bradley%2C+MF%2C+Chievo+Verona+ USA

Bradley rebounded extremely well from a failed loan to Aston Villa a year ago by joining Serie A side Chievo Verona and becoming one of the team’s best players. Bradley’s work in Chievo’s midfield was instrumental in the club finishing in tenth place in the league despite being picked to finish lower.


Bradley’s efforts have bigger clubs in Serie A taking notice, making a summer transfer to a more high-profile club a definite possibility.

Brad Mills - USA TODAY Sports
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012084 Sacha Kljestan, MF, Anderlecht Sacha+Kljestan%2C+MF%2C+Anderlecht USA

The only player on our Best XI who lifted a championship trophy, Kljestan was a vital cog in Anderlecht’s midfield on its way to a Belgian League title. Kljestan netted five goals in all competitions and played his way back onto the U.S. national team radar.


His attacking qualities helped Anderlecht make a strong run though Europa League and he should be an important member of the team as it takes part in the UEFA Champions League next season.

Greg M. Cooper - USA TODAY Sports
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012086 DaMarcus Beasley, MF, Puebla DaMarcus+Beasley%2C+MF%2C+Puebla USA

Beasley went to the Mexican League looking to revive his career after some forgettable seasons in Europe and he did just that, showing the speed and attacking qualities that made him a U.S. national team regular for years.


Beasley’s six league goals for Puebla were his highest total in one season since scoring six for PSV Eindhoven during the 2004/2005 season. His offensive exploits were made even more impressive by the fact Puebla wasn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse this past year.

Stew Milne - USA TODAY Sports
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012085 Clint Dempsey, MF, Fulham Clint+Dempsey%2C+MF%2C+Fulham USA

Just when we thought Dempsey’s previous season was special, the Texas-born star puts together a year that could be considered the best ever for an American soccer player. He notched 17 Premier League goals and 23 goals in all competitions. Dempsey also played the role of provider, delivering a team-high six assists.


Dempsey’s goal-scoring exploits have garnered the attention of prospective transfer suitors and also made him a popular selection for Premier League Team of the Season.

Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012088 Jozy Altidore, F, AZ Alkmaar Jozy+Altidore%2C+F%2C+AZ+Alkmaar USA

Altidore’s transfer to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar could be considered American transfer of the year after Altidore posted a career-best 15 league goals and 19 goals in all competitions. A regular start for most of the season.


Altidore showed considerable improvement in his finishing, first touch and passing to finish as the seventh-leading scorer in the Dutch League. He finished the year on a strong note, scoring five goals in Alkmaar’s final eight matches.

Aristide Economopoulos - USA TODAY Sports
USA 2737 8 Americans Abroad: Best XI 2011-2012 31012089 Herculez Gomez, F, Santos Laguna Herculez+Gomez%2C+F%2C+Santos+Laguna USA

When Gomez transferred from lowly Tecos to powerhouse Santos Laguna, there was a real question of whether the US World Cup striker would find playing time on such a stacked team. Not only did Gomez play his way onto the field, he continued the scoring ways that have made him one of the top goal producers in Mexico over the past two years.


Gomez finished with 18 goals in all competitions between Tecos and Santos Laguna, including the six goals he compiled in helping Santos reach the CONCACAF Champions League Final.

Stew Milne - USA TODAY Sports
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