Ten Best: Metro Europeans
BWP and Henry
May 20, 2020
Picking the ten best Europeans in Metro history is incredibly difficult. The top seven names on the list below have all been named MetroFanatic Hero of the Year at least once. So, with apologies to Aurelien Collin, Markus Holgersson, Dema Kovalenko, Damien Perrinelle, Luke Rodgers, Marc Rzatkowski, and Teemu Tainio...
10) Peguy Luyindula (France), 2013-14
For a team with so few crunch time heroes, Peguy is a legend. When he first came in, he couldn't hit the side of the barn. When it mattered, he became one of the most clutch players in team history. The three-assist game in the 2013 Supporters Shield clincher was marvelous. The three-goal performance, including two against DC, in the 2014 playoffs, was extraordinary.
9) Jan Gunnar Solli (Norway), 2011-12
The best of Metro's early-2010s Scandinavian invasion that also included Holgersson, Tainio, and, ahem, Brian Nielsen. Probably the best right back in team history (even though he was probably a better midfielder), Solli was named the team's Defender of the Year in 2011. Three goals, 13 assists in his Metro career, including the unforgettable three-assist game in a 4:0 win at DC. (Retroactively changed to two assists, but who is counting?)
8) Lloyd Sam (England), 2012-16
Proof that we shouldn't judge midseason signings until they get an offseason under their belt: Sam was pedestrian when he came on board in 2012. A year later, he took five shots on goal... and scored on all of them, including one that turned out to be the Shield winner. His totals in all competitions stood at 126 games, 24 goals, 26 assists. Yes, he was capped once for Ghana, so expect him on the eventual list of Ten Best: Metro Africans.
7) Dave van den Bergh (Netherlands), 2007-08
The next four names are virtually interchangeable; one can argue for any order and not be incorrect. But when push comes to shove, we start with VDB. The Walking Dutchman wasn't exactly fleet of foot... but boy, did he deliver when it mattered. Hero of the Year in 2008 scored what was then the biggest goal in team history, the lone tally in the 1:0 win against Salt Lake that put Metro in its first (sadly, still only) MLS Cup. Still the best crosser of the ball in team history.
6) Roberto Donadoni (Italy), 1996-97
The stats don't exactly light up: six goals, 21 assists in 55 games, but the Italian maestro was a true ground-breaker, a soccer pioneer with no peers: a European at the top of his game who decided to join MLS in its inaugural season. Alas, Donadoni's brilliance was often lost among his bungling teammates. Team MVP in 1996, Hero of the Year in both of his seasons with Metro.
5) Youri Djorkaeff (France), 2005-06
Djorkaeff's first season was terrific, as he won Team MVP and Hero of the Year, he ran around MLS defenders, sending clever passes and knocking in a few himself. Who can forget the acute angle winner to beat New England 5:4? He also laid the groundwork for another Frenchman to come to America... We wonder if his name will appear below?
4) Joel Lindpere (Estonia), 2010-12
Not exactly part of the Scandinavian influx, but definitely adjacent: Lindpere was a linchpin of the early 2010s that set up Metro for success the rest of the decade. Team MVP in 2010, Hero of the Year in 2010 and 2011, he scored of the first goal at Red Bull Arena -- twice. Alas, his desire to visit all 50 US states fell somewhat short. 104 games, 17 goals, 18 assists do not tell the full story of his awesomeness.
3) Daniel Royer (Austria), 2016-
When Royer signed in 2016, we would have never expected him to rise so high on this list, but there you have it. Double-digit goals in three straight seasons. Deadly penalty taker. Already 4th all-time in team history with 47 goals. Key part of the Shield win and perhaps the best individual playoff performance in team history in 2018. Team MVP and Hero of the Year in 2019. When he is on, so is the team's attack.
2) Bradley Wright-Phillips (England), 2013-19
And now, the final two. The choice is difficult; this same dilemma would appear if we did Top Ten: Players, with no qualifying caveats. BWP is the greatest goalscorer in team history (with no peers), holds pretty much every scoring record, five hat-tricks, four Team MVPs, two Heroes of the Year, 126 goals. He would be top of many many Metro lists...
1) Thierry Henry (France), 2010-14
But our number one, forever and ever, is the greatest Metro of all time, the man who changed the face of this club, the man responsible for the return of red and black, the one and only French ubermensch, two-time Team MVP, two-time Hero of the Year, scorer of the greatest goal in team history, the man who put his team on his back and carried it to break the trophy-less curse, the most amazing, smartest player we've ever seen... Titi Henry.