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There seems to be a swing in the mood surrounding the national team. The excitement of announcing the provisional roster and getting everybody into camp has waned to concern over health; specifically, health of the back line. After this weekend's news that Carlos Bocanegra had (a previously unannounced) sports hernia surgery, people seem to be asking: If Bocanegra was not as healthy as we were told, how healthy is Oguchi Onyewu, coming off knee surgery? How healthy is Jay DeMerit, with an abdominal strain and still recovering from eye surgery?
That's three-fourths of the projecting starting back line for the United States.
In reading one report's summary of the situation, you can see the descent in mood. Would the phrase "hopeful they will be ready" have appeared a week ago?
Defenders Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra are all battling injury but the US are hopeful they will be ready for the finals.
I'm hopeful this story reverses itself, but reading Captain Überconnected's prognosis for tomorrow's friendly with the Czech Republic, there's reason for concern:
After wrapping up training camp at Princeton on Sunday, Bob Bradley brought all 30 players to Hartford, Conn., for Tuesday's friendly against the Czech Republic at Rentschler Field (8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Galavision). With final cuts tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, the game-day roster -- tentatively set for 23 players -- will offer a small peek into Bradley's plans. However, a few key players recovering from injuries (and who are certain to go to South Africa) might be left off for precautionary reasons (Carlos Bocanegra and Jay DeMerit, among them).
There are still 19 days until the United States plays England, so - wait, that's less than three weeks.
Still, that should be enough time for players to recover, provided nobody else has had any surprise surgeries.
Brad Guzan was Tim Howard's understudy throughout qualifying, but Marcus Hahnemann's play for Wolverhampton Wanderers, one of the keys to Wolves' Premier League survival, has the 37-year-old fighting to be the back-up in South Africa.
Six months ago, who would have thought Guzan'd be in this situation? Hahnemann was sitting, behind Wayne Hennessey at Wolves, while Guzan was getting the occasional Cup-competition start for Aston Villa.
It has to be disappointing when your position on the depth chart is threatened through no fault of your own, but as he told Yanks Abroad, his job is to keep improving and fight for the spot:
Marcus Hahnemann was a mainstay at Wolverhampton this season in the Premier League and has put himself in contention for the number two spot that Guzan has held this World Cup cycle.
Both players will try to persuade Bradley at camp on who should step up if Howard cannot suit up.
Regardless of this role, Guzan has thrived in his backup responsibility and is looking at the positive.
"Everyday [I am] pushing myself, pushing Timmy [Howard], Marcus [Hahnemann], Brad Friedel," he explained. "Whoever [it] may be, it's a matter of getting better as a goalkeeper and fighting for playing time. That's what this business is about. It's about having good players around you and getting better."
You could copy-and-paste this line from every national team article written in the last decade-and-a-half,: With depth like that in the net, goal is the last of the United States' concerns.
Previously, I had thought Bedoya's "meteoric rise" was a matter of perception - that he was likely always good, but moving to Sweden instead of staying Stateside, while a good long-term career and developmental move, dropped him from sight, temporarily.
Now there is another explanation for Bedoya's burst into the national team picture, and since it comes from the player himself, I'm going to ball-up my little theory as if it were a sheet on Letterman's desk.
As I throw it at my postcard of the San Diego skyline, we have the following:
"I think that for my professional career one thing that changed was last year, the midseason, we had summer break and, instead of going on vacation, I came back home and got a personal trainer," Bedoya said. "I worked out hard, worked out extra, went back to my club and the first game back I came in as a substitute and scored two goals.
"From there on my confidence grew. My motivation [grew]. I ended up taking a starting role. And from there I think that is what changed it for me."
That's the Occam's razor answer: The player improving. Rather than being discovered, Bedoya's worked his way into the team, developing a work ethic that portends well for continued improvement.
It's natural that Clint Dempsey has become a leader within the national team. He is the set-up's most accomplished player at the club level and a natural role model for players trying to find their way in Europe: Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies, Alejandro Bedoya.
As "Deuce" told Goal, he recognizes that he has an increased role in the team:
"I'm a player that has more responsibility on my shoulders now," Dempsey acknowledged. "Before I was someone who was on the fringe. Was I going to make the team or not? That was kind of a toss-up. Whereas now I feel like I'm someone who has to stand up more and be counted. I have to try and affect these games in a positive way."
There might be more to this than just being a regular in the national team. After all, Dempsey has 54 caps and in his seventh year playing for the team. He's not a new face, and with many of the roster's midfielders and attackers coming into the set-up after Dempsey had established himself, he has always been a relative elder statesman. A couple of other differences may be germane.
First, Dempsey has had unprecedented and sustained out-field success. It's natural (though not obligatory) for a player like that to be a team leader. Whether the player is comfortable with the role or not, others will look to him.
Second, in contrast to criticism that he's received concerning some national team performances, Dempsey has become a consummate professional for Fulham. While the club world often exists independent of international play, with United States' players having few high-level club examples to cite, Dempsey's work at Fulham is a standard. Over the last two years, he has become known for his work ethic, and his ability to adapt to a stringent scheme shows similarly talented Yanks the sacrifices required to make inroads in Europe.
Such accomplishments provide credibility to any statements beginning, "What you should do is ..."
Something's strange here.
For a while we had been hearing about Carlos Bocanegra's injury issues. A knee injury turned into an abdominal strain, which had him rest for the end of Rennes' Ligue 1 season. We were told Bocanegra was working through said strain during the opening of training camp, earlier this week.
Today, it seemed like Bob Bradley slipped when he told the media that Carlos Bocanegra was dealing with some slightly more significant that an abdominal strain. Apparently, the U.S. captain is recovering from hernia surgery:
U.S. coach Bob Bradley revealed Saturday that captain Carlos Bocanegra underwent hernia surgery before reporting to World Cup training camp.
Bocanegra, a defender for Rennes, was kicked on the left knee on March 28 in a match against Le Mans. Because of stomach pains, he didn't play after the May 2 game against Sochaux.
He had sports hernia surgery on May 5, with Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck operating in Munich, team spokesman Michael Kammarman said following Bradley's announcement.
I admit that I may be reading too much into this when I say Coach Bradley "slipped," but look at how the Associated Press reported the sequence of events. Bradley "revealed," then spokesman Michael Kammerman confirmed.
Why is this coming out one week into the national team camp?
While we've yet to agree on an explanation as to why Herculez Gomez can go from Major League Soccer nomad to the Bicentenario's leading scorer, Primera Division powers Pachuca, nicknamed the Tuzos, seem convinced that Gomez is for real, signing the out-of-contract forward after Gomez put up a league-leading ten goals in the last tournament's qualification period.
Gomez's scoring title marked the first time an American player has won a scoring title in a foreign league, earning him a call into the national team camp. Gomez had not figured in any of this cycle's World Cup Qualifiers and had not figured in the team since Copa America in 2007, when the team took an experimental roster to Venezuela. Now, Gomez is in competition for one of the forward spots on the final roster.
This is something that you could infer from previous updates: Add in the arrivals of Oguchi Onyewu and Alejandro Bedoya, the prognosis for Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra and you had the whole team in full training by the weekend.
And that's what's happened, noteworthy because the U.S. team has been injury-riddled for the last eight months, and while the camp doesn't have every player it could possible want, it has everybody's it's going to get. Thus, the full preparation can begin.
Turkey and the Czech Republic will help the U.S. prepare for South Africa with friendlies before the Yanks hop the pond. Today, the two nations played at Red Bull Arena, with the Turks getting a 2-1 win over a Czech team that failed to bring a number of notable players. Turkey however, had Arda Turan and Nihat Kahveci, both of whom scored.
The United States plays the Czech Republic in Hartford on Tuesday, after which they are expected to finalize their 23-man roster. The Yanks will then take on Turkey in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Central defender Oguchi Onyewu has returned to the national team, a late arrival from Italy were his club, Milan, were finishing-up their Serie A season. Getting in his first work-outs for the Yanks, Onyewu was seen running sprints with "a hitch in his stride:"
Oguchi Onyewu participated in full training with the United States soccer team Thursday, but he had a hitch in his stride as he ran sprints and seemed to be favoring one leg slightly.
If reporters noticed this, though, Onyewu said he had not.
"I don’t feel it," he said. "I feel fine; I’ve been doing a lot more extensive running than that. I was just doing more fitness at the end."
Onyewu has been out since October, when he ruptured the patellar tendon in his left knee during the United States's last World Cup qualifier, against Costa Rica. Despite the layoff, "Gooch" says he does not feel he is playing catch-up:
"Thankfully, I’m at the point right now that I can compete," Onyewu said. "I’ve been training regularly. I’m game fit right now."
His first action since the injury will most likely come in a friendly Tuesday against the Czech Republic in East Hartford, Conn., or May 29 against Turkey in Philadelphia.
"I don’t think right now if you watch training you can say I’m behind anyone else in terms of my speed of play or anything like that," Onyewu said.
"Deuce" also talks about the Latin influence on his soccer development:
Dempsey has been the United States's European star, but although he remained a crucial part to Fulham FC's unprecedented success, the U.S. attacker struggled through an injury-riddle campaign, including a cruciate knee injury in January.
Dempsey briefly spoke about his injuries to the Fulham Chronicle, talking about how he chooses to look at the set-backs in a positive light:
"I have to look at my time out in a positive light.
"It gave me a chance to step back from the game and reflect on things, and see what I can improve.
"I was able to hit the gym a little bit, which kept me busy. All in all, it’s been a good experience and made me more hungry."
Apparently the galeocerdo dejongicus.
Jay DeMerit is now out-of-contract with Watford, with the club saying they can not afford to bring their captain back. That opens all avenues for the U.S. central defender, with one avenue potentially lending him in Major League Soccer for the first time.
Could the next stop in Jay DeMerit’s career be playing professionally in America for once? "Maybe," the USMNT said after yesterday’s workout in Princeton. "I think at the moment I am checking all the options and seeing what opportunities are there."
"I’ve never played at home and never played in the states so those opportunities are now open and it’s just a matter of me seeing what the best option for me is."
Taken from the reports of a man on the scene:
Clarence Goodson and Benny Feilhaber have joined the team after weekend matches in Scandinavia.
Goodson played in Norway on Sunday, this Start team winning 3-0. Feilhaber came off-the-bench Sunday for Aarhus's in the team's 0-3 loss to Odense, relegating the club from the Danish Bundesliga.
Feilhaber's future with Aarhus is unclear.
Two players yet to arrive were expected today. Alejandro Bedoya played Monday for Örevbo in Sweden, his team winning 2-0. Oguchi Onyewu is flying in from Milan, where his club finished their season this weekend.
One of Algeria's best players, Nadir Belhadj, was set to be suspended for the first two matches of the World Cup, a result of a red card received in the African Cup of Nations semifinal. The left back/wing was set to return to the lineup against the United States in Group C's final round, but a ruling by the African confederation could see Belhadj play in on June 13 against Slovenia.
CAF has unexpectedly, preliminarily pardoned Belhadj and Cameroon's Aurelien Chedjou after a meeting on Sunday:
"The executive committee decided to declare a general amnesty for all ongoing sanctions, with the exception of those imposed as a result of physical aggression against a referee or official," said a statement on the Caf website.
"Caf president Hayatou indicated that on the eve of such an important event as the organization of the World Cup on our continent, players … should take part and benefit from the occasion of this great football feast which is organized on African soil."
The decision must now be ratified by FIFA before Belhadj is cleared to play.
Belhadj's teammate, goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi - who was also red carded in the Cup of Nations semifinal against Egypt - had his suspension upheld. He will not be eligible to play until the match against the United States.
The United States has officially opened their World Cup training camp on the campus of Princeton University in New Jersey, but instead of reports about who was playing, the first day's leads focused on which players where unable to go.
Starting goalkeeper Tim Howard was out with a thigh strain, and a number of members of his defense - Jay DeMerit (abdominal strain), Carlos Bocanegra (abdominal strain), and Chad Marshall (hamstring) - were also sidelined.
According to coach Bob Bradley, none of the injuries are serious:
Asked if he were seriously concerned about the injuries, Bradley said: "At this time, no. Obviously we’ll assess as we go through this week whether some of the issues are already on their way to being better and guys are back in training or whether it then becomes more of a concern."
Also absent was Oguchi Onyewu, who was in route from Italy to join the team.
Oguchi Onyewu played only one competitive match for Milan in 2009-10, and in a admirable gesture that may be the defender's way of resetting his three-year deal with the club, Onyewu has requested a one year extension to his contract - a year where he will receive no salary.
USA international Oguchi Onyewu, who is coming off a season of rehabilitation following a long injury which has forced him to stay off the pitch for the whole season, but is now ready to face the World Cup with his national team, made a very significant gesture from a human and professional point of view today. Assisted by his lawyer, Jean Louis Dupont, Onyewu asked for, and received, a one-year contract extension from Milan, from 30 June 2012 to 30 June 2013. During this extra year, Oguchi Onyewu, by his choice, much appreciated by the Rossoneri club, has asked not to receive any kind of salary. This is an exemplary gesture which deserves sincere congratulations.
Those were not Bradley's exact words, but in describing what he told forward Charlie Davies in February, the U.S. coach told his injured attacker not to put himself in a position where the World Cup defined failure:
"[I] also said," Bradley said, "'If you can find a way to work and put everything into it and maybe not have so much to say, I think it would work for you. Because you don't want to put yourself in a position that you're making all this progress and yet somehow it seems like a failure because the timing just doesn't coincide with the World Cup. What's most important is that you can still get yourself back to the level that you were playing before the accident.'"
Also providing more detail as to what went into the decision to leave Davies off the provisional squad, Bradley talked about watching training videos, though he was still coy about what he inferred:
"We knew exactly what it looked like in training," said Bradley. "[U.S. national team trainer] Ivan Pierra was there at one point. I saw video of it at training. So we put it all together and we recognized that Charlie has put, up until now, and will need to continue to put, a tremendous amount of work into his rehab, and we're all there supporting him."
Jozy Altidore was so concerned with getting the message across to David Beckham, he missed his opportunity to hang with Kobe Bryant.
As Martin Rogers tells us, the U.S.'s 20-year-old striker was recently at a Laker game and saw the injured midfielder. Altidore took the opportunity to talk some trash with the England international, forgetting that he was supposed to be in the Laker locker room meeting Bryant:
"I saw Becks there and I had to go over and tell him what is going to happen in South Africa," Altidore said in an exclusive interview with Yahoo! Sports. "I made sure he knows how it’s going to be without him playing – USA 3, England 0.
"I was having fun with Becks and talking a bit of trash, and I forgot I was supposed to go to the locker room and meet Kobe."
Explaining his good-natured jab at Beckham, Altitore explained it was less about arrogance, more about belief:
"When you look at American sports like basketball and football the one thing you notice is the confidence," Altidore said. "Guys like Kobe have that total belief in themselves that they are going to make the shot, win the game, get the job done, no questions asked.
"That is the kind of mentality that we want to have. It is not arrogance; it is about trusting yourself and your abilities."
Whenever you see the adjective "honorary," you have to question what the described title actually means, but for the U.S. 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid committees, it can't hurt to have former President Bill Clinton appointed honorary chairman. Can it?
It seems curious, in the wake of England's 2018 bid being thrown into turmoil by the machinations of a mistress, the the U.S. bid committee would this appointment. Whether you are forgiving of Clinton's transgressions or continue to be critical, the timing of this could have been better.
Here's how United States Mens National Team members performed for their clubs over the weekend:
The seasons for Brad Guzan, Marcus Hanhemann and Tim Howard ended last week, the final match day of the English season.
Bornstein, Jonathan - started a left back and got 90 minutes in Chivas USA's 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew.
Bocanegra, Carlos - was not in the lineup for Stade Rennes as he continues to recover from a knee injury and a stomach ailment. Rennes lost 1-0 at relegation-bound Boulogne but finished their Ligue 1 season in ninth place.
Goodson, Clarence - started and went the distance for Norway's Start in the club's 3-0 victory over Kongsvinger.
Marshall, Chad - started and played 90 minutes in central defense for Columbus as the Crew defeated Chivas USA, 1-0.
Onyewu, Oguchi - did not dress for Milan in the club's season-ending, 3-0 win over Juventus.
Pearce, Heath - started an went the full 90 for Dallas against Philadelphia in MLS action Saturday. Picked up a yellow card in the 1-1 draw.
Steve Cherundolo, Jay DeMerit and Jonathan Spector's clubs have completed their seasons.
Donovan, Landon - started at forward and played the full match for Los Angeles against Toronto in MLS play. The match ended 0-0.
Feilhaber, Benny - came on as a substitute and played the last 33 minutes of AGF's 0-3 loss to OB.
Kljestan, Sacha - started and played 90 minutes for Chivas USA.
Rogers, Robbie - started and played the whole match for Columbus against Chivas.
Torres, Jose Francisco - started and played 90 minutes for Pachuca as the Tuzos were eliminated from the Mexican Liguilla by Toluca after their 1-0 loss.
Alejandro Bedoya's club, Örebro, plays Monday in Sweden. The club seasons for DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu and Stuart Holden are finished.
Buddle, Edson - played the whole match for Los Angeles as the Galaxy were drawn with Toronto, 0-0.
Jozy Altidore's season is done for Hull City and VIllareal, as is Herculez Gomez's with Puebla. Brian Ching and Robbie Findley's teams played on Thursday in MLS, while Eddie Johnson is currently injured for Aris in Greece, where the team is playing in the league's Champions League playoff.
Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya has been given permission to be late for the national team camp, with his team's Swedish Allsvenskan match scheduled for Monday.
Örebro is currently fourth in the Swedish first division, with Monday's match pitting them against last place Trelleborg. Bedoya has started twelve of the team's thirteen matches, scoring one goal.
He is expected to be the last of the team's arrivals. Benny Feilhaber is en route from Denmark after playing in AGF's weekend match, while Eddie Johnson has joined to team, his hamstring injury keeping him out of Aria's weekend match.
Yesterday, Oguchi Onyewu was amongst the 22 players in the mix to dress for Milan's Serie A finale with Juventus; however, when the teams were announced Saturday, the American central defender was not in the side.
Milan defeated Juventus 3-0 at the San Siro when a Ronaldinho brace augmented an early goal from left back Luca Antonini.
Onyewu's absence means the former Standard Liège player did not make a Serie A appearance this year, his only competitive match coming in UEFA Champions League on September 30, when he came on for the final 30 minutes of Milan's loss to FC Zürich.
Two weeks later, Onyewu suffered a knee injury in the U.S.'s final World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica.
The Serie A season now over, Onyewu will join the U.S. Men's National Team in New Jersey for World Cup preparations.
Last month, Hull manager Ian Dowie questioned Jozy Altidore's training:
"I've spoken to Jozy a number of times since I've been here and, if Jozy can train the way he plays, I think he's got a great opportunity, but he needs to understand that it's that day-in, day-out," Dowie said. "He's a lovely, laid-back boy and there's no side to him but he needs to focus on training at a better level."
It's a criticism the 20-year-old striker does not deny, partially ascribing his lack of training ground effort to preparations for the summer's World Cup:
"For me that was more geared towards, you know, just the pressure of everything and the summer coming," he said. "I was just being extra careful, but in games giving my all. You know what I mean? Because you just have to be smart in the way you handle things. But at the same time I think he's just looking out for my interest, which is good."
Altidore has said that he has enjoyed Hull, and at one time it appeared that a permanent move was possible. With finances looking troublesome around KC Stadium, a move to Hull seems unlikely, particularly with Dowie questioning the wisdom of the investment:
""Probably he hasn't fulfilled his potential here," the manager was quoted in the Daily Mail as saying last month. "For the level of investment, it's probably not enough."
Not that we should have expected him to say anything different, but arguably Algeria's best player, Glasgow Rangers' defender/captain Mahjid Bougherra, is confident the African Cup of Nations semifinalists can get out of Group C in South Africa:
Defender Madjid Bougherra is confident that Algeria can qualify ahead of either England or USA and reach the knockout phase for the first time. The Rangers defender said: "It has been said that we can't qualify from a group including England and USA, but I am sure we will advance to the knockout stage. Algeria have true warriors and we want to write a new history for our country and fans."
Having qualified for the World Cup ahead of African champions Egypt (beating them twice), Algeria does have a recent history of giant slaying. They also have a recent history of inconsistency, losing to Malawi 3-0 in January's African championships before knocking-out Cote d'Ivoire, eventually losing to Egypt 4-0 in the semifinals.
The Egypt and Cote d'Ivoire wins speak to a team that can advance, but the lopsided losses to Malawi and Egypt in Angola show this team could also flame-out in South Africa.
I suppose we should expect Bougherra to endorse the former.
Bougherra now seems like a former teammate of U.S. winger DeMarcus Beasley, who confirmed via Twitter that he is leaving Rangers:
Beasley is out-of-contract with the Glasgow-based club, and for the Major League Soccer fans hopeful that one of the national teams' stars may return home, perhaps the final tweet is a hint that the former Fire player would look kindly on landing at Red Bull Arena.
West Ham defender Jonathan Spector is supporting teammate Robert Green's quest to wear the one shirt for England in South Africa.
Green is currently in the middle of a three-way battle for England's goalkeeping position, competing against Portsmouth's David James and Manchester City's Joe Hart.
Spector feels the Hammers keeper has the qualities for which England coach Fabio Capello should be looking:
"I always personally felt confident having him behind me, that if something goes wrong, he'll be there," said the American. "I think he's the most consistent as well, compared to the other England keepers."
He added: "That's something Fabio Capello or any manager would value in a World Cup, especially when there's a lot more pressure, the kind of pressure the England team will be facing going into it."
Green had moved into England's starting position this year when David James was struggling with injuries. Since, James has regained fitness while Joe Hart has been one of the English Premier League's best keepers.
The 23-year-old Hart may be the least experienced, but he was recently voted the goalkeeper on the Professional Footballers Association team of the year, and the statistical record shows a decided edge over Green.
Although Spector is certainly merely being a supportive teammate, his choice of Green may actually put a worse keeper in goal for England. Though he will not get a voice in the actual choice, you have to appreciate Spector trying to help the U.S., even if it is unconscious.
A delegation from the States' bid committee presented FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Secretary General Jerome Valcke with the nation's bid book on Friday in Zurich, Switzerland. The delegation included the likes of U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and team captain Carlos Bocanegra.
The bid includes plans for 18 potential host cities: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, D.C.
"Submitting the U.S. Bid Book to FIFA is a major milestone in this process and the result of months of planning and hard work," said Sunil Gulati, Chairman of the USA Bid Committee and President of U.S. Soccer. "But it also marks the beginning of the most critical portion of this bid in which we must make a compelling case to the 24-member FIFA Executive Committee that the United States is the right country to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022. The support our effort has received from the people and civic leaders of this country has been tremendous and strengthens our faith in our ability to bring the World Cup back to the United States."
The committee has also released another video promoting the States' bid:
It's buried in the middle of other team news (which we'll get to, below), but unlike the AP story used by the linked site, we won't not bury the lead.
The first step to answering those questions might come Saturday, as "Gooch" could dress for Milan against Juventus in the team's finale Italian Serie A match of the season:
American defender Oguchi Onyewu was among 22 players selected for AC Milan's season finale on Saturday night against Juventus and could play for the first time since injuring a knee in October.
Onyewu traveled for last Sunday's Serie A game at Genoa but didn't dress.
Central defender Jay DeMerit overcame a freak eye injury to help keep English Championship-side Watford out of League One, but with his contract expired and the team struggling financially, the Hornets captain is likely ended his six year run at Vicarage Road.
Hornets' boss Malky Mackay said: "Jay is out of contract and financially we are not in a position to offer him a new contract and he has the World Cup.
"Jay also has an awful lot of other things in his life outside football that he is going to think about and even what country he is going to be in next year.
"I don't even think Jay knows what is going to happen after the World Cup yet but he goes with my best wishes."
The 30-year-old defender has spent his entire professional career in England, moving in 2003, going undrafted and unsigned by Major League Soccer after graduating from the University at Illinois, Chicago. He started his career at Southall in non-league football, eventually signing with Watford in 2004.
Perhaps doubt is too strong a word, but captain Carlos Bocanegra's knee injury, groin problem and stomach ailment were enough to have the veteran defender scared for his World Cup.
Bocanegra missed Ligue 1-side Rennes' last two league matches. Unable to diagnose the issue, the club rested their left back, and eventually the ailment cleared-up.
"Obviously, I was scared," he told The Associated Press on Friday. "I just got fatigued and had to take a few weeks off."
Bocanegra's problems began when an opponent kicked his left knee in a March 28 match against Le Mans.
"I was overcompensating because I wasn't running properly," he said.
The 30-year-old from Alta Loma, Calif., tried to play through groin and abdominal pain against Lyon the next week.
He became alarmed with the approach of the U.S. team's World Cup opener against England on June 12 in South Africa.
"I came to a point where I thought, OK, I need to think about the World Cup a little bit now," he said. "It's not far away. What's going on here? So I had to shut it down."
Bocanegra got his club's approval to train at his own pace. By skipping Rennes' final Ligue 1 match, he was free Friday to join U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati at FIFA in presenting the five-volume bid book to host the World Cup in the United States for a second time in 2018 or 2022.
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