American Player Rankings: Jozy Altidore moves up to third after two strong showings with the USA

Jozy Altidore continues his climb up the rankings as the goals keep coming for the big forward.
Two more U.S. national team matches have come and gone, the last look these rankings will have at the team, and, though met with mixed results, the overall feeling after Tuesday's 3-2 win over Slovenia was one of contentment. The USA grabbed a second win for Jurgen Klinsmann, and in the process broke free of a goal-scoring funk.

The match was strikingly different from the game against France on Friday. Gone was the team that struggled to create chances. Gone also was the team that held firm defensively and limited a powerful France to just one goal. Back was Michael Bradley, without the cries of nepotism that inevitably followed him prior to Klinsmann's arrival, and in came Fabian Johnson, who certainly did enough to cast doubts about Brek Shea being a full time starter on the left.

With all of that said, neither match did much to break up the top five players on this list. Clint Dempsey scored one of the USA's three goals, Tim Howard was on top of his game, Carlos Bocanegra played well in both matches and Jozy Altidore had two of his best outings of the year. Landon Donovan, the only player on the list not to take part in the USA's matches, will get his chance to prove his worth this weekend as his team searches for an MLS title, which is clearly a reasonable excuse not to have taken part.

There will be a bit of movement within the top five, but the names on the list will stay the same.

1. Clint Dempsey

Age: 28

Club: Fulham
Position: Midfielder

Last Week: 1

Dempsey was instrumental in the USA's win over Slovenia, notching the team's second goal and setting up Edson Buddle's opener with a nice bit of defensive hustle.
2. Tim Howard

Age: 32

Club: Everton
Position: Goalkeeper

Last Week: 2

Howard's play against France made the scoreline more flattering than it should have been for the USA, and the woodwork helped him earn a win against Slovenia despite some horrid moments from the defense in front of him.
3. Jozy Altidore

Age: 22

Club: AZ
Position: Forward

Last Week: 5

This might not be popular, but it's hard to argue that Altidore's form for both club and country right now doesn't merit him being considered among the best players the USA has. Honestly, it's been a shocking rise for the young forward, but in a game where goals matter more than anything else, he's beginning to bring them with regularity. The France match also showed that he didn't have to score to have a nice outing, which has been largely in question for a while now.
4. Landon Donovan

Age: 29

Club: LA Galaxy
Position: Midfielder

Last Week:

Donovan skipping out on the USA matches is understandable, but it doesn't help his standing in these rankings. Playing well against MLS opposition should not be enough to keep any player in the top three when others are playing well on the international stage and in Europe. Unless Donovan does something special in the MLS Cup final, he won't move up again until 2012.
5. Carlos Bocanegra

Age: 32

Club: Rangers
Position: Defender

Last Week: 4

It is a shame to drop Bocanegra down a spot on the day he recorded his 100th cap. He and the defense were solid against France, but the back line looked out of sorts against Slovenia. Bocanegra has to shoulder some of that blame, even if he wasn't the main reason why the team gave up two goals.

Honorable Mention
: Michael Bradley, welcome back to the USA's starting XI. For the second week in a row the Chievo midfielder makes the honorable mention list and hopefully, when Donovan does return to the USA side, he'll keep his place and some of the other experiments can come to an end. Edson Buddle also deserves some praise for his play against Slovenia. Through him, Klinsmann may have found a way to allow Dempsey to play more out of the midfield without tasking Altidore with tracking down every long ball played. It's not the ideal long term fix, but it could be enough to make the early parts of qualifying more comfortable for the USA.