|ESPN.com: Wayne Drehs Blog||[Print without images]|
BRISTOL, Conn. -- DaMarcus Beasley got a text message. Jozy Altidore and Maurice Edu a handshake. And then there was Herculez Gomez, who had no idea he had made the final 23-man roster for the World Cup until he walked into the ballroom of a downtown Hartford hotel, saw 22 other guys and heard the congratulations from manager Bob Bradley himself.
"I got a little choked up," Gomez said. "But I didn't want to be the one to cry in front of the guys."
After returning to the hotel following Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic, coaches and players ate dinner about midnight before the coaching staff departed to make final decisions on the 23-man roster. Assistant coach Zak Abdel said the decisions weren't easy, with several conversations going down to the last minute.
"Even when everything was finished, I couldn't sleep," Abdel said. "It's a tough thing. It's not easy."
While the coaches met, the players returned their rooms and waited. Some watched television, others listened to music, anything to get their minds off the one thing they couldn't stop thinking about.
"They made us wait it out a bit, so mentally I was all over the place," Gomez said. "I didn't know what to think."
Once the decisions were made, Bradley and the coaching staff met individually with the players who did not make the team. They also met with several other players in a one-on-one setting before bringing the entire 23-man group together for the first time. Some players received word they made the team individually, others as part of the group. Beasley received a text message from general manager Pam Perkins. Beasley joked that you can't break up with a girl over text message, "but you can certainly find out you made the national team. I have no problem with that."
The 28-year-old Beasley, who was a national team afterthought six months ago, will play in his third World Cup.
"And I have no problem with the guys calling me grandpa," he said.
One player who wasn't nervous Tuesday night was goalkeeper Tim Howard. On Wednesday, his thoughts were more with those who didn't make the team, such as longtime teammate Brian Ching.
"It's bittersweet," Howard said. "A lot of our boys didn't make the cut. It's hard to be ecstatic for yourself when some of your boys are hurting. That's the hard part of sports. Some guys we drew blood with and fought with. ... Now it's just a handshake and a pound and I'll see you later. It's hard."
The team-building process will begin with a Wednesday night dinner in Washington, D.C., followed by Thursday morning's visit with President Barack Obama at the White House. On Thursday afternoon the team will travel to Philadelphia to begin training for Saturday's friendly against Turkey (ESPN2, 2 p.m.).
"The show goes on," Howard said. "We have to move forward. We've got some mountains to climb ahead of us."