In all, 31 Major League Soccer players were given chances this May to make their national teams leading up to the 2014 World Cup. Not all of them will play for one reason or another, but those who will are going to have opportunities to make waves on the biggest stage in all of world football. Not every MLS club will be represented in Brazil, and a few famous names will be spending time participating in league matches rather than playing in the World Cup in June 2014.
Here are all the MLS players who will be featured in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, listed by team.
No Chicago players were called into national teams for the 2014 World Cup.
Marvin Chavez, Honduras: The speedy winger who turned 30 years old last November had a breakout season after moving from FC Dallas to the San Jose Earthquakes before the start of the 2012 campaign. He notched 13 assists in league play that season. Chavez was unsettled as a member of the Colorado Rapids earlier this year, causing him to request to be traded. The Rapids granted that wish, and Chavez was sent to Chivas.
He buried two goals on two shots in one game played for his new club before joining Honduras for World Cup preparations.
Note: It is believed that Oswaldo Minda will be left off of the Ecuador National Team (fitness).
No players on the Rapids were called into national teams for the 2014 World Cup.
Giancarlo Gonzalez, Costa Rica: The 26 year old defender signed for the Crew earlier this offseason. He has thus far made 11 starts for Columbus in MLS play. Gonzalez has, to date, earned 31 caps with Costa Rica, and he has twice found the back of the net while wearing his national team colors.
His most memorable MLS moment in the first two months spent in the North American top-flight is one he would probably rather forget. Gonzalez was guilty of a downright disgraceful dive when Columbus were facing the San Jose Earthquakes. That simulation cost Gonzalez an undisclosed amount of money.
Michael Parkhurst, USA: Parkhurst did not make the final cut for the USMNT roster.
Jairo Arrieta, Costa Rica: Arrieta will only be an alternate, at best, once the World Cup starts.
No DC players were called into national teams for the 2014 World Cup.
No Dallas players were called into national teams for the 2014 World Cup.
Boniek Garcia, Honduras: Garcia, 29 years old, was a hit right out of the gate when he joined the Dynamo in 2012. He started in all 17 games in which he featured for Houston, and he finished the year with four goals and six assists. The vaunted two-way midfielder was voted Player of the Year by those in the team’s squad. He has since made 33 appearances, all starts, for the Dynamo.
Garcia, a mainstay for Honduras, has a total of 92 caps. He had a goal and an assist for Houston in 12 games, all starts, this MLS season before he was called up for the Honduras pre-World Cup camp on May 19.
Brad Davis, USA: Davis is one of the more controversial players in that he, and a few others who were believed to not be on the radar of US coach Jurgen Klinsmann, made the final United States Men’s National Team roster while Landon Donovan did not. The Houston starter who is in his 13th MLS season immediately rewarded Klinsmann, notching an assist off of a free kick in the US’ 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan on May 27.
Davis has seen and done just about everything in MLS short of winning league MVP honors. He is the Houston all-time leader in games, starts and assists. Davis has twice hoisted the MLS Cup. This call-up is one that has been coming for some time.
Alexander Lopez, Honduras: Lopez is currently on the standby list for Honduras.
Landon Donovan, USA: Donovan was the key component of what could, depending on what occurs in June, be the biggest US Soccer story of the year when he was left off of the final US roster by coach Jurgen Klinsmann. He responded to that snub by breaking the MLS all-time scoring record in his first game on the pitch after learning that he would not be going to Brazil.
Donovan has not been enjoying the best football of his club career as of late. He is, however, arguably the greatest American footballer to ever lace up a pair of boots. Klinsmann could end up regretting this decision if the US fail to make it out of the so-called “Group of Death.”
Omar Gonzalez, USA: The future seemed very bright at the club and national team levels for Gonzalez when he joined Bundesliga side FC Nuremberg on a loan back in January 2012. He then tore his ACL in his first training session with that club. While Gonzalez has since had some bright moments, particularly during the final few months of LA’s 2012 MLS Cup run, he has yet to develop into the star defender many envisioned that he would be at this stage of his career.
Gonzalez, unlike Donovan, did make Klinsmann’s final cut. The center back did not, however, make the starting XI when the United States played against Azerbaijan on May 27. His status for the start of the World Cup was not known as of the posting of this piece.
No Montreal players were called into national teams for the 2014 World Cup.
New England Revolution
Jerry Bengtson, Honduras: It would not be a stretch to say that Bengtson has not lived up to expectations since joining the Revolution back in 2012. He has, in 34 regular season appearances (23 starts), found the back of the net only four times. Bengtson hasn’t notched a single assist in his MLS career.
He scores while wearing Honduras colors, however, and that’s what matters most to his nation. Bengtson had netted 19 tallies in 41 appearances for Honduras. It is rumored that he could join Rangers via a transfer after the World Cup.
New York Red Bulls
Tim Cahill, Australia: Cahill struggled to immediately adapt to life in MLS after joining RBNY in the summer of 2012. Some analysts and fans were even calling him a flop after he got off to a slow start at the beginning of the 2013 season. Cahill answered the critics by exploding for 11 goals and five assists, and he was a finalist for the League MVP Award and the team MVP for a New York side that won the Supporters’ Shield.
The former Everton star is, when fully fit, undeniably one of the best players in all of MLS. With Australia unlikely to make a significant run in the World Cup, New York fans will be hoping that Cahill remains healthy until he returns to the Red Bulls.
Roy Miller, Costa Rica: Miller is one of the more frustrating players on this list. He is, when at his best, one of the better left backs in all of MLS, a tremendous two-way player who can create scoring chances and also be solid in defense. Miller has a history of making mental mistakes at times, however, and it’s those poor moments that often erase the good things he does on the pitch from memories.
The irony in that last statement is that Miller had been one of New York’s better overall players in 2014 before he was called up for pre-World Cup camp. RBNY will be without their best defender so long as Miller is busy on international duty.
Maurice Edu, USA: Edu, like Donovan, was cut by Klinsmann on the Thursday before Memorial Day.
No Portland players were called into international teams for the 2014 World Cup.
Real Salt Lake
Alvaro Saborio, Costa Rica: Saborio has been a consistent goal-scoring threat since joining RSL in 2010. He buried no fewer than 11 tallies each year from 2010 through 2013. He had a MLS career-high 17 goals in 2012, and Saborio found the back of the net 12 times last season.
He has six goals in ten starts this season.
Saborio, who represented the Costa Rica U-23 team in the 2004 Olympics, has scored 45 goals across all levels for his country over the past 11 years.
Kyle Beckerman, USA: Beckerman, who joined MLS back in 2000, had a banner year in 2013. He was once again one of the best holding midfielders in all of MLS, playing a big part in RSL making it to the MLS Cup Final and the US Open Cup Final. Beckerman also enjoyed success with the US Men’s National Team, hoisting the CONCACAF Gold Cup over the summer.
How much playing time Beckerman will see in Brazil has yet to be determined. Jurgen Klinsmann started Jermaine Jones over the RSL midfielder when the US took on Azerbaijan in the first World Cup warmup for the Americans.
Nick Rimando, USA: Rimando remains one of the best goalkeepers in MLS, but things will have to have gone terribly wrong for the Americans if the Salt Lake No. 1 plays in Brazil. He sits behind both Tim Howard and Brad Guzan on the depth chart.
San Jose Earthquakes
Victor Bernardez, Honduras: The 32-year-old centerback had his best season to date as a member of the ‘Quakes in 2012. He appeared in 24 regular season contests, all starts, and he had two goals and an assist. Bernardez was named to the MLS Best XI that season, and he finished as runner-up for MLS Defender of the Year.
He again played well for San Jose last year. Bernardez made 25 starts in 2013, and he also played in a duo of CONCACAF Champions League games. He has made nine league starts for SJ in 2014.
Chris Wondolowski, USA: Wondolowski, like the previously mentioned Beckerman, may be more of a spectator than a player in Brazil. The 2012 MLS Golden Boot winner will be behind both Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey in June assuming that both are fully fit at the start of the World Cup. Truth be told, Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar) could leapfrog Wondo on the depth chart if the youngster impresses in future warmups.
Clarence Goodson, USA: Goodson didn’t make the final cut, and he is not happy about it.
Clint Dempsey, USA: 2014 was going so well for Dempsey. The former Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur man had eight goals in nine games for the Sounders this season, and Dempsey was a front-runner in early discussions for league MVP before he left to train with the US.
Dempsey missed the Azerbaijan warmup because of a groin injury, however, and there is some concern about where he will be when the games begin to matter. Dempsey is not, for what it’s worth, overly concerned.
DeAndre Yedlin, USA: Yedlin is, on paper, a US player for the future more so than he is somebody who will help the Americans go on a magical run this coming summer. The 20-year-old has, since joining Seattle in 2013, made 41 regular season appearances for the MLS side. Yedlin’s pace makes him a handful for opposing sides, but his defending leaves much to be desired at the international level, especially when you consider the countries that the US will be playing against in Brazil.
Brad Evans, USA: Evans was one of seven US players who didn’t make the final cut.
Sporting Kansas City
Matt Besler, USA: Besler, the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year, may be the best defender right now on the US team. Whether that’s a good thing or worrisome will be debated by fans up through the time that the US takes the pitch in Brazil.
The KC mainstay has, since 2009, played in 135 league matches (130 starts). Besler is routinely referred to as one of the top defenders in MLS. He was rather lackluster on the field against Azerbaijan, however, turning the ball over multiple times.
Besler and the US will pay for such miscues against Portugal and/or Germany.
Graham Zusi, USA: The legend of Graham Zusi seems to grow with every year. The midfielder was the MLSSoccer.com Breakout Player of the Year in 2011. Zusi followed that up by leading MLS in assists with 15 in 2012, and he was a MVP finalist for that season.
Zusi then made international headlines last October when he buried a stoppage-time equalizer for the US against Panama in a World Cup Qualifier. While that tally meant nothing to the United States, it helped save Mexico’s World Cup dreams at the expense of Panama.
Zusi may again have to have the magic touch for the US to make it to the elimination stages of the World Cup.
Julio Cesar, Brazil: Cesar is an interesting player to examine concerning this list. It’s not because the goalkeeper lacks talent. All indications are that Cesar, who joined TFC on a loan this past winter, has already played his final match in MLS. He will likely rejoin Queens Park Rangers once his World Cup duties are completed.
Michael Bradley, USA: Bradley has, in the past few years, developed into a true play-maker and an integral part of the US World Cup lineup. Nicknamed “The General” while with Serie A side Chievo, Bradley had an up-and-down stint with Roma which began in the summer of 2012. He failed to impress in the first half of the 2013-14 Serie A campaign, and Bradley joined Tottenham forward Jermain Defoe in moving to Toronto this past January.
As Bradley goes in Brazil, so will the US go. He is the best all-around player in Klinsmann’s team. He works hard at both ends of the pitch, and Bradley’s creativity is often underrated. Expect upcoming US starting lineups to revolve around the TFC midfielder.
Jermain Defoe, England: Defoe did not make the final cut.
Steven Beitashour, Iran: Formerly of the San Jose Whitecaps, Beitashour joined up with the Whitecaps last January. Touted as one of the best right backs in MLS, the 2012 MLS All-Star and dual American-Iranian citizen had, for some time, kept his international options open. Beitashour was called into the US team for a friendly in August of 2012, but he was not used for that match against Mexico.
Beitashour represented Iran in 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualification.
Johnny Leveron, Honduras: Leveron is an alternate who will likely not crack into the World Cup squad.