Monday, March 22, 2010
Updated: March 25, 9:40 PM ET
World Cup players in the MLS
By Justin Rodriguez
Special to ESPN.com
OK, so we all know about the heavy-hitting players in the 2010 World Cup.
Guys like Argentina's Lionel Messi, who makes magic for Barcelona in La Liga.
Or Marlboro Man-tough English striker Wayne Rooney, who overwhelms defenders for Manchester United in the EPL.
But what about MLS?
We have some legit players in MLS, including several who could make an impact for the U.S. at the 2010 World Cup.
Here they are:
Kyle Beckerman, midfielder, Real Salt Lake: Helped Salt Lake to an MLS Cup win last season.
As for the World Cup, the dreadlocked Beckerman may be a victim of too much depth in the U.S. midfield (see the likes of Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan). However, if an injury arises, Beckerman could get the call.
Jonathan Bornstein, defender, Chivas USA: Call it bad luck, but Bornstein was caught smack in the middle of both goals in a 2-1 U.S. loss to the Netherlands earlier this month.
In the 40th minute, Bornstein took down Wesley Sneijder in the box, and Dirk Kuyt converted the penalty kick. Bornstein then deflected a shot off the foot of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar into the U.S. net, giving the host a 2-0 lead in the 73rd minute. Bornstein's Amsterdam nightmare aside, he's expected to make his first World Cup appearance this summer.
Conor Casey, striker, Colorado Rapids: Casey scored 16 goals last season for Colorado, putting him on the roster bubble.
He could end up being one of the toughest roster choices for U.S. coach Bob Bradley. Casey has been up and down for the U.S., but when this guy's up, he's usually flying. Casey scored two goals and took the foul that set up Landon Donovan's game-winner in a 3-2 win over Honduras in San Pedro Sula in October, which clinched the U.S.' berth into the World Cup.
Brian Ching, striker, Houston Dynamo: Made the 2006 World Cup team, but didn't play.
Ching, 31, is expected to get another shot at the pitch in South Africa. His playing time could depend on the recovery of Charlie Davies, which at this point would be miraculous, from injuries sustained in a car accident last October. Ching brings experience and scrappiness to the U.S. side, making his debut in 2003, scoring 11 career international goals.
Landon Donovan, forward/midfielder, L.A. Galaxy: He proved himself on one of the biggest stages in the world, playing well on loan for Everton across the pond in the EPL.
It was rewarding, considering Donovan's previous struggles overseas in Germany. With over 100 caps in his U.S. career, Donovan started all three matches for the red, white and blue at the 2006 World Cup. Donovan scored two goals in 13 matches for Everton, helping the club beat Chelsea and Manchester United, and tying Arsenal. The U.S. is counting on that type of effort and leadership from Donovan in South Africa.
Robbie Findley, striker, Real Salt Lake: The up-and-comer had a legit shot at making his World Cup debut.
However, shaky performances in the United States' last three games -- against the Netherlands, El Salvador and Honduras -- may spell the end of Findley's World Cup dream.
Frankie Hejduk, defender, Columbus Crew: Don't count the old man out just yet.
Yes, Hejduk is 35 and his body has been through a lot. However, with his experience and passion, Hejduk, who made his World Cup debut in 1998, could provide the U.S. with a spark. The main concern, at any point, would be his health.
Sacha Kljestan, midfielder, Chivas USA: Poised to play in his first World Cup.
Although Kljestan slumped a bit with Chivas last season, the 24-year-old put up one of the most electrifying scoring performance in U.S. history in January 2009. His first three goals for the Americans came in a hat trick in a win over Sweden. He also scored the game-winner in a 2-1 exhibition win over El Salvador in Tampa, Fla., last month.
Justin Rodriguez covers soccer for ESPNsoccernet. He is the soccer writer for the Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.