Before the World Cup begins in June, take some time to get to know the U.S. players that will be fighting for the trophy. Some of the team came from big cities like Providence, Seattle, and Dallas - but we wanted to tout 11 team members who made their way from the smallest of American towns to a spot on the squad in Rio. These small towns impress with their charm, quirks and services and you should make a point to visit them if you ever get the chance.
Kyle Beckerman (Crofton, Maryland)
Team: Real Salt Lake
Hometown History: Crofton is located 24 miles south of Baltimore and has a population of around 28,000. In July 2007 Crofton was named by Money magazine as one of "100 Best Places to Live" in the United States. Homes here cost significantly more than other areas in Baltimore, which keeps crime rates down. The city was planned around a popular 3.5 mile walking and biking route. One of the premiere American families, the Hopkins', lived in the area for over 270 years and once owned over 1000 acres in Crofton. Other famous people from Crofton include Bill Belichick, Sprio Agnew, and Edward Snowden.
Tony Beltran (Claremont, California)
Team: Real Salt Lake
Hometown History: Claremont is located 30 miles east of of Los Angeles with a population of around 35,000. Claremont is called the City of Trees and Ph.D.s. due to Claremont Colleges and the mesmerizing number of tree-lined avenues and homes. The city has won the National Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA award for 19 straight years. Downtown has a mix of fancy boutiques and small businesses. "The Village" in Claremont is the place to go for shopping and eating, there is also a movie theater in the complex among other things. The Santa Anna Winds keep the climate at Mediterranean levels with the peak in August at an average of 92 degrees.
Michael Bradley (Manhattan Beach, California)
Team: Toronto FC
Hometown History: Beach volleyball and surfing are what come to mind when talking about Manhattan Beach, the hotspot in south western Los Angeles county. There are more million dollar homes in Manhattan Beach than any other area in California. The area attracts over 3.8 million visitors annually and once you step on the beaches, you'll understand why. The downtown strip also showcases award winning restaurants and shopping. With a population hovering around 35,000 many are young and attractive - Manhattan Beach was named by CNN Money as the #1 place for the "rich and single" in 2011. Manhattan Beach is an absolute farm for professional athletes and celebs, as famous names such as Nomar Garciaparra and Owen Wilson are from the area.
Brad Davis (St. Charles, Missouri)
Team: Houston Dynamo
Hometown History: St. Charles, located to the northwest of St. Louis, is home to over 65,000 individuals and welcomes in nearly one million visitors each year. As the oldest city on the Missouri River, St. Charles is rich with American history. In 1804, Louis and Clark began the watery phase of their journey up the Missouri River with St. Charles as the starting point. Today, the St. Charles Historic District continues to homage to this past and is a focal point in the city; its shops, restaurants, and rich heritage are enjoyed by tourists and locals alike. Bikers, walkers, and lovers of the outdoors can enjoy St. Charles as they arrive at one end of the Katy Trail, a 225 mile long state park that is popular for its natural and recreational perks. Picturesque and diverse, St. Charles is an equally great city to visit and reside in.
Clint Dempsey (Nacogdoches, Texas)
Team: Seattle Sounders FC
Hometown History: Nacogdoches is often referred to as the oldest city in Texas, but by no means does that make it outdated. Home to nearly 33,000 individuals, a focal point of life in the city is credited to the Stephen F. Austin University where about 13,000 students attend classes. This university is one of the top forestry schools in the world. Visitors to the city can enjoy exploring the historic and quaint downtown or, in spring, can discover the scenery amongst Texas' largest azalea garden with a walk along the Nacogdoches Azalea Trail. Nacogdoches is also home to the annual Texas Blueberry Festival, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014. Agriculture and outdoor recreation are central qualities of this city so it's no wonder that this town boasts beautiful scenery all around.
Landon Donovan (Redlands, California)
Team: LA Galaxy
Hometown History: Nestled at the foot of the mountains, Redlands, home to around 69,000 individuals, enjoys a warm, mediterranean climate year round. Historically, this city's economy was fueled by being the "Washington Navel Orange Growing Capital of the World", but has since developed a more diverse industrial background. Redlands' stretch of Victorian style mansions are an enjoyable tour for many visitors in between visiting the city's numerous parks or the Redlands Bowl, a beautiful amphitheater with seats for nearly 4, 000 which offers free concerts for all in the summer months.
Chris Wondolowski (Danville, California)
Team: San Jose Earthquakes
Hometown History: One of the wealthiest suburbs of Oakland and San Francisco is the town of Danville which boasts a population of over 42,000. Small town charms mixed with the convenience of modern, upscale living positions Danville as an ideal northern Californian home for many. The town is known as "Heart of the San Roman Valley" and features all types of recreational activities for the young and old, not to mention high class dining and shopping venues. Running through the center of the town is a converted railroad bike trail that joggers and riders alike can enjoy. Known for its top school system - 98% of Danville high school graduates attend more schooling either at a University of technical institution. The town hosts an array of events throughout the year from Farmer's Markets to street fairs.
Bill Hamid (Annandale, Virginia)
Team: D.C. United
Hometown History: Over 41,000 call Annandale home where a short 20 minute drive has you in downtown Washington, DC. There is a large Korean population in Annandale with many delicious eateries featuring fare from Korea. ExxonMobile headquarters is based in the area with over 2,000 employees. Other notable residents include comedian Rob Huebel and Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hammill.
Eddie Johnson (Palm Coast, Florida)
Team: D.C. United
Hometown History: With over 75,000 residents Palm Coast population has doubled in the past ten years. Incorporated in 1999, Palm Coast in one of the state's newest cities. Palm Coast features many beautiful parks, 125+ miles of connecting trails and paths for walking/bicycling, boating, fishing, and world-class tennis and golf. Palm Coast's parks and trails, not to mention all the indigenous vegegation, showcase the native Florida landscape. Bird-watching is popular at St. Joe Walkway and Linear Park, which are designated as Great Florida Birding & Wildlife Trails, and visitors can spot dolphins and seabirds as they stroll along the Intracoastal at Waterfront Park.
Sean Johnson (Lilburn, Georgia)
Team: Chicago Fire
Hometown History: Housing just under 12,000 residents, Lilburn is located in the western part of Gwinnett County, Georgia very close to Atlanta. The city is rooted in the railroad that still runs hourly through Old Town near the city's municipal building. The Seaboard Airline Railway founded Lilburn in 1890. Its name remembers the general superintendent of the railroad, Lilburn Trigg Myers. Baseball player Jeff Francouer and former basketball star Dominique Wilkins call Lilburn home too.The Mockingbird Lake, Sturdivant Lake and Spences Lake offer facilities for fishing and boating. The annual Christmas Parade, held on the first Saturday in December, is always an anticipated event for the community with over 100 entries marching down Main Street ending at Lilburn City Park.
Nick Rimando (Montclair, California)
Team: Real Sale Lake
Hometown History: Monclair, California is nestled in San Bernadino county and features a population of 36,000. Earliest known inhabitants were Native Americans from the Serrano tribe who gave way to American settlers in the late 1800s. Montclair is located in very close proximity to private universities/colleges, including the prestigious Claremont Colleges, State universities, and several community colleges. Within minutes of Montclair travelers can find Raging Waters Regional Park, the California Speedway, and Citizens Bank Arena.