Here's another chart I put together from Wikipedia on our place in the international pecking order. In the spirit of looking for more Americans in elite European leagues, I wondered what exactly a chart of players on the very best European clubs by nation would look like. The chart below lists the number of players for each nation playing on teams in this year's group stage for the UEFA Champions League, the very upper echelon of club soccer. Of course, by only including UEFA, these counts give the European nations an edge over Latin American nations, which often retain a few of their big stars on their own national league's top teams at any time;
# of players from Champs League Group Stage teams
If you're looking at group stage dropout France at the top of the list and wondering if too many stars on one team can be a hindrance, let's consider how these rankings would have predicted the World Cup to play out. In a group stage as unpredictable as this one, we saw some star-studded teams as France and Italy (two of the top five in elite-team players) fail to advance. In all, only 10 of the 16 knockout spots went to the teams this chart would have predicted to advance. In the knockouts - when early favorites reasserted their dominance - the chart would have gone 11-3-1, with no prediction on the Japan-Paraguay game (which went to Japan on PKs). And so it seems that yes, the more players you have on the best 32 teams in Europe, the better you'll do in the World Cup.
The three players for the U.S. are Oguchi Onyewu of AC Milan, and Rangers' DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu. As a side note, Beasley and Edu kind of demonstrate how this measure doesn't necessarily capture your very best players. Beasley only played a few minutes in garbage time and while Edu played well he never contributed on the level of a Premier League starter. That this chart misses our two other Champs League-worthy guys (Donovan and Dempsey) but does hit right on in our number of those guys (three with Onyewu) is odd evidence in favor of the predictive value of the chart.