I can’t think of a better player to round out the Best XI back line than Eddie Pope. In 82 appearances for the National Team, Eddie played with as much determination as any US player. Over the course of eleven years, Pope’s name became synonymous with the team’s. His fantastic play in defense could often be overlooked because teams would avoid him, but he was honored as the 1997 US Player of the Year.
Professionally, Pope had a fine career. He scored the Golden Goal in the first MLS Cup Final for DC United and his career in the league would span over a decade and 250 games. In 2005, he would be honored as one of MLS’s All-Time Best XI, an honor he rightfully deserved. He is also well known for his charity work, which resulted in his being awarded the 2000 MLS Humanitarian of the Year award.
Pope was a fixture on the 1998 US team that made it to the Gold Cup Finals, and he was a member of the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cup squads. More impressively, Pope started every game he ever played for the Nats, a record that will likely never be broked. Though his later playing days saw him beset by injuries, he always gave 100%, and for that the members of Sam’s Army will always cherish him.
Unfortunately, Pope will also be remembered for his red card at the 2006 World Cup, which prevented him from playing in the team’s final match against Ghana. Despite this somewhat poor end to his international career, Pope should be remembered by US soccer fans for his unmatched dedication and crafty defensive tactics. There is no doubt in my mind that he deserves his place on the US Best XI.