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Remembering all those USMNT players who made qualifying possible

There were 46 players called into the United States national team during qualifying. Here, we pay tribute the those who didn't make the final World Cup cut.

Christian Petersen

In just over two weeks’ time, the United States men’s national team will face Ghana in their opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It’s always an exciting time every four years when the World Cup rolls around, but with this iteration I’m especially excited. Soccer in the United States is growing and gaining more mainstream traction. And whether you’re club before country or country before club, or whether you’re a die-hard fan of soccer or just a casual supporter once every four years, the World Cup provides an unique opportunity to highlight not just soccer, but soccer in America.

It’s undeniable that America’s top domestic soccer league, MLS, has made huge strides since 2010’s World Cup in South Africa. Since that World Cup, six new teams have been introduced into the league (7 if we want to include Miami), those being the Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps, Montreal Impact, Orlando City, New York City and Atlanta (some of those teams were announced as franchises before the 2010 World Cup, but my vague statement helps illustrate my point).

The United States has a population of approximately 318 million people, but come June 16, only 23 men will be able to don the Stars and Stripes and represent America on soccer’s biggest stage. For these men, such an event is a culmination of dreams being realized due to thousands of hours of hard work. Some players, like Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard, have done this song and dance before, they’ve earned their recognition on the international level. Others, like Deandre Yedlin and Chris Wondolowski, will be traveling to the World Cup for the first time, able to showcase their abilities in front of the whole world.

But there are other men outside that 23, other Americans who helped the United States to qualify for the World Cup. In the 16 qualification games played to determine which nations CONCACAF sends to the World Cup as representatives, the United States used 38 players, of which only 18 were selected to be on America’s final 23-man roster. 20 men suited up and stepped onto the pitch with the goal to earn the USMNT the right to play in the World Cup in Brazil, and those 20 men will watch the same as you and me, as spectators and fans.

I would like to take the chance to thank those men for their contributions and honor them here.

Eddie Johnson

10 games played (6 starts and 4 substitute appearances)

4 goals scored

Eddie Johnson first represented the USMNT in this cycle of qualification in the third-round game against Antigua and Barbuda, scoring two goals en route to a 2-1 victory. The USMNT went 7-2-1 (W-L-D) in games in which EJ played, including 5-1-0 in games which he started. It was a shock when the forward wasn’t even announced to the 30-man preliminary roster, but the DC United player handled it with grace.

Herculez Gomez

8 games played (8 starts)

2 goals scored

The Club Tijuana forward represented the USMNT in 8 of the first 9 matches of their qualification, with the team going 5-1-2 in those games, scoring twice, including the lone goal in a 1-0 win against Jamaica.

Maurice Edu

8 games played (4 starts and 4 substitute appearances)

The Philadelphia Union defensive midfielder played in 8 matches for the USMNT, going 4-2-2 along the way, but only 1-1-2 in those games he started. After transferring to MLS partly in a bid to get back into the USMNT fold, he made the 30-man preliminary roster but was cut from the final 23.

Clarence Goodson

7 games played (7 starts)

The San Jose Earthquakes defender made spot starts along the backline throughout qualifications with the team going 5-1-1 in those games, but ultimately missed the cut when the roster was pared down from 30 to 23.

Steve Cherundolo

5 games played (5 starts)

The career Hannover defender played in 5 of the first 6 games during qualification, helping the USMNT to a 4-0-1 record. He has since retired from professional football after representing America in the 2002, 2006, and 2010 World Cups.

Carlos Bocanegra

5 games played (5 starts)

The Chivas USA defender started alongside Cherundolo in the 5 games during the third round of CONCACAF qualification, which lead to the 4-0-1 record. He also scored two goals along the way.

Landon Donovan

5 games played (5 starts)

1 goal scored

The shock of the roster, the LA Galaxy forward/midfielder/legend has been a constant fixture for the United States, after being named “Best Young Player” of the 2002 World Cup finals. The USMNT went 3-1-1 in the games started by Donovan, and his exclusion, however tragic, ushers a new era of the men’s national team.

From his Facebook page upon learning his fate:

Brad Evans

5 games played (5 starts)

1 goal scored

The versatile Seattle Sounders midfielder was a surprise addition into the USMNT fold, filling in at RB admirably when needed. His introduction couldn’t have gone better as he scored the stoppage-time, game-winning goal against Jamaica. The team went 5-0-0 in the games he started, and his exclusion on the final 23-man roster prompted his now famous tweet.

Danny Williams

5 games played (4 starts and 1 substitute appearance)

The Reading defensive midfielder played in 5 of the first 7 games during qualification, earning four starts in a row, intersecting the third round and the Hex. In his starts the USMNT went 3-1-0. An injury incurred against Ukraine in the March 5 friendly likely hurt his chances at being called in.

Sacha Kljestan

5 games played (1 start and 4 substitute appearances)

The midfielder for Belgium Jupiler League champions Anderlecht only started in one game, the 3-2 victory against Panama in the last match of the Hexagon, but the United States were 4-1-0 in the five games in which he appeared.

Edgar Castillo

4 games played (1 start and 3 substitute appearances)

The Club Tijuana left back made three substitute appearances in USMNT Hexagon victories before making his first qualifications start against Panama. The New Mexican born Castillo was a youth Mexican national, but was eligible to switch to the USMNT and is only the second player to earn aps for both Mexico and the United States.

Michael Parkhurst

3 games played (2 starts and 1 substitute appearance)

The Columbus Crew defender was invited to the 30-man preliminary roster but ultimately didn’t make the cut. He started two games during the third round and had a substitute appearance in the 2-0 win versus Mexico held in Columbus, in front of his home crowd.

Terrence Boyd

3 games played (3 substitute appearances)

The Rapid Wien forward made three appearances throughout the qualification process, including the very first and last games. He was included in the 30-man roster, but was not selected to travel to Brazil. However, given that he’s only 23, he’ll get good looks at both the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Brek Shea

3 games played (3 substitute appearances)

The Stoke City midfielder played in three games for the USMNT during qualifications, including the 0-0 draw against Mexico at the Estadio Azteca. One of the heroes of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Shea was excluded off the World Cup 30-man roster.

José Francisco Torres

2 games played (2 starts)

The Tigres midfielder made two starts in the third round of qualifications, in the 3-1 victory against Antigua and Barbuda and the 1-0 victory against Jamaica. After representing America in the 2010 World Cup and even starting against Slovenia, the Texas-born Torres wasn’t invited into the 2014 camp.

Michael Orozco Fiscal

2 games played (2 starts)

1 goal scored

The Californian defender, who is on loan with Puebla, made two starts during qualifications, the 3-1 loss to Costa Rica and the 3-2 victory against Panama, in which he scored the first goal for the American team.

Joe Corona

2 games played (2 substitute appearances)

The Club Tijuana midfielder made two substitute appearances for the USMNT, in the 3-1 victory against Guatemala and the 2-0 victory against Panama. He was called into the 30-man preliminary roster, but was excluded from the 23.

Oguchi Onyewu

1 game played (1 substitute appearance)

The Sheffield Wednesday defender made a substitute appearance in the very first game during the third round of qualification, a 3-1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda. After representing the USMNT in both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups (and making 5 starts), Onyewu was not invited into camp.

Stuart Holden

1 game played (1 substitute appearance)

The Bolton Wanderer midfielder’s career has been a sad tale, defined by several severe knee injuries. However, he overcame them and made a substitute appearance in the 2-0 USMNT victory over Panama. Fun Fact: Holden used to compete in Counter-Strike tournament before signing with Sunderland in 2005.

Alan Gordon

1 game played (1 substitute appearance)

The San Jose Earthquakes forward has made only one appearance for the USMNT squad, and in it he provided the assist to the game winning goal against Antigua and Barbuda in the 2-1 victory in the third round of qualifications.