Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Americans in Ligue 1 Conforama

Publish on at - S. WILLIS


This summer's EA Ligue 1 Games in Washington, D.C. will be a first, but there is a long-standing tradition of USA's best footballer's plying their trade in France's top flight…

Olympique de Marseille, Girondins de Bordeaux, AS Saint-Etienne and Montpellier Hérault SC will all participate in a tour of the United States - the EA Ligue 1 Games - in mid-July. As their North American odyssey looms, we take a look at the rich history of American players - many of whom also turned out for the US Men's National Team (USMNT) - plying their trade at the highest level in France.

Two internationals this season

At the beginning of the 2018-2019 season, Ligue 1 Conforama's American contingent comprised two representatives. However, international defender Matt Miazga (11 caps), on loan from Chelsea to FC Nantes, did not stay long on the banks of the River Erdre. After eight league matches in the first part of the season, the 23-year-old took off for English club Reading in the winter transfer window.

Miazga's USMNT team-mate, young forward Timothy Weah, also started the season in Ligue 1 Conforama before crossing the Channel in January. At PSG since 2014, the son of the legendary George Weah had time to score two goals in three official games with Parisians this season before being loaned to Celtic Glasgow in a bod for more game time. At just 19 years old, he already has eight caps and a goal with the United States.

Gaetjens the pioneer, Régis the globalist

But the first American international to grace the stadia of France's top flight was Joe Gaetjens. An attacker for RC Paris and then Olympique Alès in the early 1950s, he has a unique story. Although he played in the 1950 World Cup with the US national team, scoring the only goal in a win over England, he never had US citizenship. Born in Haiti, he went to study in New York for a few years and that was when he was spotted but the USMNT set-up.

In the early 2000s, Greg Vanney arrived at SC Bastia from Los Angeles Galaxy. An international defender (36 caps), he plied his trade in Corsica from January 2002 to summer 2005 (60 Ligue 1 Conforama matches) and now the former left-back coaches MLS side Toronto FC.

Unlike Vanney, defender David Régis competed in a World Cup. Born in Martinique, he played for Valenciennes, Metz, ESTAC, Lens and finally Strasbourg, where he married an American woman and became a naturalised American just in time to join the USMNT at the 1998 World Cup in France. Three of his 27 career caps were earned in that historic tournament.

Gold standard: Bocanegra and Bedoya

The two best American players to do their thing in Ligue 1 Conforama are undoubtedly Alejandro Bedoya and Carlos Bocanegra. The latter, a central defender, played for Stade Rennais between 2008 and 2010 and then spent a season with AS Saint-Etienne - as well as captaining the USMNT on his way to 110 international caps.

Meanwhile, midfielder Alejandro Bedoya played for FC Nantes for three full seasons, captaining the side and scoring 11 goals in 87 Ligue 1 Conforama matches. The native of New Jersey has amassed an impressive 66 caps with the USMNT, notably winning two Gold Cup titles (2013 and 2017) along the way.

Freddy Adu (17 caps) spent the 2008-2009 season with principality club AS Monaco. The Ghanaian-born player, who arrived in France touted as a prodigy, made a minimal impact in the league (9 matches, all as a substitute). Now 29 years old, he has played in no fewer than eight different countries.

Meanwhile, Charlie Davies (17 caps, 4 goals) found more success during his time in France was more successful. Recruited by FC Sochaux-Montbéliard in the summer of 2009, the little striker made a hugely promising start with two goals in eight games before suffering serious injuries in a car crash. Loaned out to DC United - who will take on OM in a friendly this summer - in 2011, Davies returned to the MLS in the summer of 2012.

Also noteworthy are the three matches played by the young defender Oguchi Onyewu (67 caps) with FC Metz in 2002-2003 - although this was in Domino's Ligue 2 and not the top tier for French football. Salvador-born attacking midfielder Hugo Pérez (74 caps) helped Red Star win promotion to the second division in 1990, while in terms of coaching, former USMNT and current Los Angeles FC boss Bob Bradley served as coach at Le Havre AC from late 2015 to late 2016.

Links with the United States

Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg represented the United States in the youth category in the mid-2000s. Born in France, he holds dual French-American citizenship thanks to his father and has played for a host of French clubs in Domino's Ligue 2 and Ligue 1 Conforama, notably ESTAC Troyes, Evian Thonon Gaillard, Tours FC and AJ Auxerre.

Young Rennes forward Theoson-Jordan Siebatcheu was born in the US capital of Washington, D.C., where EA Ligue 1 Games will be held. He settled in France early with his family before signing for the Stade de Reims youth academy. However, he has never played for the USMNT, his international career limited so far to two caps with the France U21 side.

Arriving at PSG in the summer of 2004, young striker Vedad Ibisevic signed from the United States, where his footballing career had begun at university. The Bosnian international lived in the USA in his late teens and before moving onto a spell in the German Bundesliga, he played 6 games with the capital club in 2004-2005 and then scored 10 goals in 33 Domino's Ligue 2 matches with Dijon FCO.