The moment that many fans were waiting for happened yesterday when Bruce Arena, live on Sports Center, announced the US World Cup team. You can have a look as Joel and Jim have there takes on it.
Truth told, I've been recognizing over the past few years that I have been drifting more towards club over country. I think that may be because FIFA really has screwed up the World Cup Qualification process for CONCACAF. I watched most of the qualifiers, but there was never any feeling of a sense of urgency in them. There never really was any feeling that if the US didn't win this game they would not make the World Cup. That's what happens I guess when 3 1/2 spots come out of CONCACAF, there is always a huge safety net. It would take a collosal failure by the US not to make the World Cup, so all qualifying games felt like glorified scrimages to me. I foundmyself pulling for and against certain players because of their club affiliation, instead of pulling for the team of the United Staes.
Yesterday though, I was late to my second job as I stayed in to watch this team announced. I actually started getting excited again. For the team, and for the World Cup. Is it because players I don't think very highly of at all (Taylor Twellman) did not make the squad? Is it because players I hoped to see make the squad (Jimmy Conrad, Frankie Hejduk) made it? Or is it just because the time is coming round to get behind your team and hope for another terrific run like 2002.
One thing I noticed in the picking of this team, is that if you are a US Soccer fan and you have not been paying attention to MLS you are doing yourself a diservice and really might be out of your element when arguing for or against the inclusion of some players. Yes, MLS is not the Premeirship, but as 2002 showed and again is shown here in 2006, it is without a doubt the primary breeding ground for US National Team players. As it should be, as any domestic league in a half serious soccer nation should be. It is clear looking up and down the roster the effect that MLS has had. All 4 of our forwards have played in MLS or are there now. 6 of 8 of our defenders have played in MLS or are there now. And 7 of 8 of our midfielders have played in MLS or are there now. If you are serious about being a soccer fan in this country, it's time to start, at the very least paying attention to your domestic league.
The USA Today has a great breakdown of the roster complete with quotes from Arena. Definitely a good read. It's an exciting time. As has been uttered elsewhere, In Bruce we Trust! Go USA!