There are players you look forward to playing and others you hate to match up against. During my career I have been privileged to play against some of the best competition in the world.
Here is a list of the 10 toughest guys I played against and the teams they were on.
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1. Ajax Midfield (The Netherlands)
We barely got a sniff of the ball. This group was just coming off a championship year in the Eredivisie. Talk about ball movement and swarming pressure. These guys could move the ball and on the rare occasion one of them gave the ball up, they swarm around you like angry bees.
2. Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders)
Alonso is the type of player you hate to play against and love playing with. In my opinion, Ozzie is still the most underrated player in MLS. I think the Sounders would be extremely hard pressed to replace him if he were to leave the organization. This guy is the work horse that does all the dirty work and doesn’t get nearly enough credit.
3. Jérémy Clément (Paris Saint-Germain)
I made sure to exchange jersey’s with this guy after the game. Technically brilliant during his 90 minutes on the pitch Clement was one of those players that just acted like he didn’t give a shit. Its a scary proposition for someone of his level and talent to act like he is having a nutmeg competition with his teammates and you are the poor schmuck stuck in the middle.
4. John Thorrington (Chicago Fire and Vancouver Whitecaps)
The best work horse I have ever played against or with. You can’t fault the guy for his work ethic and fiery attitude. Some players are surprised to learn he is a the truest gentleman off the field but an absolute thorn in the backside on it.
5. Logan Pause (Chicago Fire)
The second most underrated player in MLS for my money. This is the glue that keeps the Fire together. A Chris Armas reincarnate who does all the little things without the credit and hype that he deserves. Logan is as consistant as he is tough. Mr. Pause returned to the pitch last week after 2 broken ribs and a collapsed lung after only a 2 weeks hiatus.
6. Club America Midfield (Mexico)
This is arguably the best Mexican club I’ve ever played against. Both times I’ve matched up against them they have been crafty and ruthless. There is a natural hatred and rivalry between all Mexican teams and MLS squads. But these guys were good and you had to be on your game to not fall for their tricks and games.
7. David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy)
This guy wasn’t the hardest working player I have ever played against but he is as feisty as they come. Beck’s can tackle and mouth off with the best of them. Let alone factoring in his accuracy on the ball and he was always someone who was dangerous both in the tackle and on set pieces.
8. Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids)
Pablo would scream bloody murder every time I got the ball just to try to get under my skin. Talk about a gamer. Mastroeni is a wily veteran who knows how to make you uncomfortable and play his game rather than yours. I still can’t stop thinking about those unnerving shrieks.
9. Brian Carroll (Columbus Crew and Philadelphia Union)
Another unsung hero who makes it difficult ever time you play against him. Brian is a player who did the little things that made the Crew tick and a natural compliment to Schelotto. Now in Philadelphia he provides the much needed leadership and midfield muscle.
10. Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Landon. Donovan will go down in history as the best American born player to date and the most successful MLS player to represent club and country. Landon has a knack for winning, scoring and his quick movements and accuracy on the ball make him a threat ever time he steps on the field.