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US National Team’s Best XI: Bruce Murray

Bruce Murray played both midfielder and forward for the MNT, but I would put him in the mid because I always felt his ability to dish the ball outweighed his finishing skills. In 86 appearances for the Men’s National Team, Murray did notch a respectable 21 goals, but he was better utilized as a field general where he could control the team’s attack with his piercing through balls.

Unfortunately, Murray’s professional career ended just prior to the formation of MLS, so many American soccer fans are not terribly familiar with his name. He was perhaps one of the finest US collegiate players ever at Clemson, and was named to the NCAA Team of the Century. He also played pro ball briefly with several squads, but his international career would greatly eclipse his professional accomplishments.

Bruce represented the US at the 1988 Olympics and he was crucial to the US’s qualification for the 1990 World Cup, its first in 40 years. He started all three games in that tournament, though the team did not fare well. After the World Cup, Murray was one of a few men to ever actually sign a contract with the National Team and for just over two years he played exclusively for the US.

Once that deal ended, Murray’s career took a downward turn and eventually came to an abrupt end due to knee injuries. Despite the fact his career was cut short, Murray should be remembered by US soccer fans for re-establishing the team as a regional power after decades mired in poor play. While his stats are not as eye-popping as other players, his legacy is more lasting and for that he deserves Best XI recognition.