An American FA Cup showdown 

January, 26, 2012

The English Premier League is off for the weekend as the FA Cup takes center stage. There are a number of appetizing matchups, but the one that will pique the interest of American soccer fans is Friday's tie between Everton and Fulham. The match will feature the three best American players of the last-half decade in Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, Everton midfielder Landon Donovan and Fulham do-everything striker/midfielder Clint Dempsey.

All three have already had stellar careers, but each should still have a little left in his tank as well. Donovan and Dempsey are still in their 20s, while Howard is only 32, which isn't old by goalkeeper standards. Most would agree Donovan has had the better international career of the three up to this point, but Howard and Dempsey have been upper-echelon EPL players for a number of years. I'll let others duke that one out, but no matter what your opinion is on the matter there's no question that it's rare for a non-European country to have its best three players on the field for such a crucial match in a major European league. For an American soccer fan, it doesn't get much better than watching three of America's best play in one the world's most prestigious tournaments.

Using Opta touch-by-touch data, let's break down the impact each player has had on his club.

Albert Larcada is an Analytics Specialist in ESPN's Stats & Information group. Among other analytics projects, he maintains, advances and writes about ESPN's Soccer Power Index (SPI) algorithm.