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US National Team’s Best XI: Marcelo Balboa

Like another famous Balboa, Marcelo was a fighter who always gave 100%. Descended from Argentines (which never hurts one’s soccer prowess), Balboa grew up in Chi-town where he would learn to play tough-as-nails soccer from his father, Luis, who played professionally in Argentina. During the 1990s, Balboa would emerge as the US MNT anchor in defense and a captain on and off the field.

Balboa took the pitch for the Nats 128 times from 1988 to 2000, which makes him the third most capped player in the squad’s history. Over his international career, he scored 13 goals, which is not too shabby for a defender. Balboa played in three World Cups (1990, 1994, 1998) and was named the US Soccer Player of the Year twice (1992 and 1994).

Balboa’s professional career was as successful as his international one. He played several seasons with the Colorado Rapids, and in 2005 he was named to the prestigious MLS All-Time Best XI. After his career ended, he went on to work in broadcasting and has served as an analyst at the 2006 World Cup and the 2008 Summer Olympics.

In addition to his insane hair (both on his head and face), Balboa is remembered by many fans for his penchant for the bicycle kick. He almost notched one such circus-like goal in the 1994 World Cup against Brazil, and his 2000 bicycle kick goal for Colorado in MLS is often regarded as the league’s most thrilling score. But, his defense was his bread and butter and for that he belongs on the US Best XI side.