U.S. Soccer calls Frankie Hejduk. Again. And here's why it's a good move ...

35 is the new 25 ... at least where Frankie Hejduk is concerned.


News out of the U.S. camp today is that Frankie Hejduk, the only man still in the U.S. player pool who was part of that France ’98 fiasco, has been summoned once again for duty. He’ll accompany the team down to San Pedro Sula for this weekend’s World Cup qualifier clash in chaotic Honduras.

The Columbus Crew captain is now one of the 22 players in the U.S. camp. Manager Bob Bradley will name at 18-man roster for Saturday’s match, and another for next week’s contest in Washington, D.C., against Costa Rica. Whether Hejduk is one of them may not matter; just having him around is what counts.

I know, I know, Hejduk doesn’t exactly jingle your keys.

He’s 35, so he’s been around since, like, the Sony Walkman was all that.

He’s not nearly as much fun to talk about as all the young bucks. And he plays for Columbus in MLS, which isn’t nearly as sexy as the option that plays in the go-go English Premier League (Jonathan Spector) or in the Kevlar-tough Bundesliga (Steve Cherundolo).

But I’m here to tell you, this isn’t a bad addition.

First, when he’s healthy – which, admittedly, is a little less often these days – he’ll still get up and down the line more than Spector, Cherundolo or anyone else Bradley can throw out there.

Second, there’s nobody over there at the moment really blowing Bradley’s little coaching socks off. But there’s another, even more important reason that this is no terrible idea.

Hejduk is fearless. It doesn’t matter what’s going on around him – he’s just there to play a little soccer, kick a couple of shins and then cruise the internet for the latest surfing vids on YouTube.

I tell people this all the time: the pressure of a World Cup qualifier does strange things to players. The toughest among can sometimes go all weak-kneed once inside a teeming cauldron in some foreign land; they can melt like a school girl at a Jonas Brothers show. And you just gotta think, going to Honduras right now can be pretty intimidating. (If you don’t know what’s going on down there, then maybe you need a little talking to from newsman supreme Tom Brokaw, who can impress upon you  the need to keep the heck up with current events.)

So, having a guy around who doesn’t stand a chance of being undone by it all is important. Younger players notice – and it has a calming effect.

Remember how good DaMarcus Beasley was in the 2002 World Cup? Yeah, yeah, I know: that guy could barely get by Franz Beckenbauer these days. And Der Kaiser is 64 now!

But forget about the puny version of Beasley now. Think about that slippery little ragamuffin circa 2002.

I’ll never forget the story then-boss Bruce Arena told about Beasley, about the moment on the team bus he informed the little attacker, who went about a buck-20 back then, that he would be starting in the World Cup opener against mighty Portugal.

"Oh. Cool."

That was Beasley’s response. He had that same kind of fearlessness back then – even if his was due to the naïveté of youth, the result is the same.

Call is courageousness. Call it cockiness. Call it freakin’ daring-do or whatever.

You need some of it in these wild-ass qualifier, played before wild-ass fans in broken down stadiums where security may or may not be able to contain the riot once it breaks out.

Hejduk brings it.

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