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Clyde Simms was the first Miguel Ibarra

The last time a lower-division player was called into USMNT, it was a very different circumstance.


Aside from Landon Donovan, the talk of this United States training camp has been the inclusion of Miguel Ibarra. After being drafted by the Portland Timbers, but failing to make the team, Ibarra hooked on with Minnesota United of the NASL. In three seasons, Ibarra has blossomed into a player good enough to get the attention of Jurgen Klinsmann.

Much has been made of the fact that Ibarra is the first player from an American lower-division team to be called into a USMNT camp since Bruce Arena brought in Clyde Simms back in 2005. But what hasn't been as widely discussed are the circumstances surrounding Simms' call-up.

Back in 2004, you may remember, the players and the USSF were locked in a contract dispute. The players wanted more money, and while the federation was willing to reward them for a successful 2002 World Cup, the size of the raise was very much a contentious issue.

It was so contentious, in fact, that the players union was threatening a strike ahead of the start of the final round of CONCACAF qualifying. In response, the USSF worked out a deal with the USL First Division to bring in their players, just in case the dispute wasn't settled before the first Hex game against Trinidad & Tobago in February.

IMSoccer has a great series of stories detailing the entire saga, but the short version is this: Simms, fresh off his first professional season, was among the USL players called in. Within a few days of camp starting, though, the players' union came to an agreement with the USSF and the USL players were sent home. Well, most of them.

Simms was the only USL player invited to the full camp and although he didn't feature in the qualifier, he did get his first cap in May 2005. Simms also impressed enough at the camp that he was eventually signed by D.C. United, the start of nine-year MLS career.