Bocanegra discusses his USMNT exit

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Carlos Bocanegra was a fixture on the U.S. Men’s National Team for the better part of a decade, and wore the captain’s armband as recently as the end of 2012, which made his abrupt departure from the USMNT mix all the more surprising when Jurgen Klinsmann chose to go with a youth movement at centerback a year ago.

Bocanegra hasn’t said much about his departure from the team, but in my latest installment of the weekly column The MLS Wrap, Bocanegra discusses his exit from the national team picture and more.

Don’t go looking for a slam job on Klinsmann. Bocanegra keeps things clean, and makes it clear he has no interest in stirring up a controversy with the USMNT just weeks away from the 2014 World Cup. What Bocanegra does provide is some insight into his decision to keep playing for the United States after the 2010 World Cup, and how he views his sudden exit from the picture.

Give the column a read and let me know what you think about Bocanegra’s exit from the national picture, and his comments about no longer being part of a team.

Share your thoughts below.

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44 Responses to Bocanegra discusses his USMNT exit

  1. EspinDOHla says:

    Good for Carlos taking the high road. It’s a shame how the former captain was just unceremoniously dropped after being a loyal and faithful servant for so long.

    • GW says:

      You could look at it from the other side.

      In my view it was the implosion at Rangers that eventually derailed Boca’s bids for the 2014 World Cup.
      He wasn’t playing regularly for a second division Spanish team and he went a long time between jobs. Plus it is debatable how good that Rangers team that he had been playing for was.
      Overall, you could make an argument that he could have been dropped a lot sooner.

      Besides, he’s a professional athlete and this comes with the territory. There is no nice way to fire anyone.

      • EspinDOHla says:

        I’m not saying it’s bad he was dropped. Like you said, with professional athletes, it comes with the territory and if the ship has sailed on Carlos, whether it be last year or the year before, so be it.

        However, it’s not like he was some random guy who got a few caps and the coach decided he didn’t have it anymore or couldn’t cut it at the international level; he was Captain America! He was a great leader and captain and represented not only the team, but our country, very well.

        I just thought it was strange that he was suddenly out of the picture after being an integral part of the team for so long with no explanation or “thank you for your great service” from US Soccer.

        • downintexas says:

          well said Espin

        • Ali Dia says:

          Agree with this sentiment. I sympathize with JK a lot here — there is no instruction manual for how to send a former captain and standard-bearer of out to pasture as WC qualifying enters its final phase, and I don’t think the situation gave Klinsmann any particular joy .

          Having said that, the execution felt very awkward and it seems like a lot of things could have been done better. Pressure surrounding Klinsmann was peaking at the time and perhaps political sensitivity was a luxury expense.

          Regardless, Bocanegra certainly deserves to be feted and given his rightful recognition, which I trust US Soccer will deliver. It would be nice to see him get the armband for one more friendly after the WC .

    • chris_thebassplayer says:

      Boca was a great captain, one of our best, but it was time to move on…once the legs go, no amount of heart or experience can save you. That’s the cold hard reality. It wasn’t really debatable, WC 2014 wasn’t going to happen for him.

      After the WC dust has settled there will be something special done for Boca’s “official” retirement from international ball…it will be big and worthy of his stature with the nats.

  2. Sargent Shultz says:

    Not much in the article. The fact of the matter is though, he had lost a step and was becoming a liability. Happens to everybody.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Maybe it provides the closure he didn’t get when the switch went from on to off very quickly. Events got discussed more in a dramatic fashion — we all remember the article, and we moved quickly into the coaching discussion and the heat of qualifying — than from a how does the Boca chapter get closed perspective.

      But I agree, he was absent for a while while the Rangers implosion played out, and then when he came back for Russia he was awful, pulled up hurt, etc. People advocating his return forget this is a running sport where older players need to keep up with young people with sprinter speed. No amount of positioning can fix that completely.

      In fairness, though, you could have looked at the ages on Boca, 34 and Dolo, 35 (and even Gooch, 31 and Goodson, 31 IMO) and foreseen this beginning of the cycle. Basic freaking age math. Some of my upset at the current cycle’s defensive state is that I think they went too long with people who were likely to break down, and in doing so may have pushed the adjustment deeper in the cycle and run off people like Chandler who could have been used now at their natural spot.

      • malkin says:

        Don’t forget Timmy Chandler taking out Gonzo’s knee. I think that had more to do with delaying Omar’s introduction than any clinging to the past.

      • GW says:

        . “Some of my upset at the current cycle’s defensive state is that I think they went too long with people who were likely to break down, and in doing so may have pushed the adjustment deeper in the cycle and run off people like Chandler who could have been used now at their natural spot”

        That’s what you call perfect 20/20 hindsight.

        It is also a reflection of the lack of depth and the 4 year cycle the USMNT is on. Right now your starting center back pair are Besler and Gonzo neither of whom is in any way, shape or form a proven quantity for what they are about to try to do..

        The South American or Euro teams are on a 2 year cycle so after the 2010 WC they had the 2012 Euros or the 2011 Copa America to blood new players.

        The US could have used the Confederations Cup but Mexico took care of that , so all this team had besides qualifying was the Gold Cup, a JV tournament in most eyes.

        For me the key failures were when Gonzo stayed with LA and Brooks kept getting hurt and did not develop as he was supposed to.

        He may yet come good in Brazil but at this point, Gonzo seems to not have improved much since signing his big deal. I’m all for a stronger MLS but I’d feel better about the US defense if he had moved to the Bundesliga a year ago He might have failed there but then the US would not be much worse off than they are now.

        • Duke says:

          I kind of disagree. Going to Germany doesnt mean that you’re going to play. He’s better playing every game than riding Euro pine

          • GW says:


            I should preface this by saying I hope I’m wrong about Gonzo.

            My point was Gonzo playing every day for LA does not seem to have made him a better player since he signed his big deal.

            I’m not saying he can’t get better playing in LA.

            I’m saying he hasn’t at least in terms of how he plays for the US.

            So where is the advantage to the US?

            They still have the same inconsistent, game losing mistake prone CB, who slows down the ball coming out of the US defense and does not seem very dangerous on set pieces anymore, who they had before.

            If he goes to Germany and does well his confidence is higher and presumably so is his play.

            If he fails then he’s out of the picture so we don’t have to worry about him losing the game for the US. And they can bring in someone else. But he’s just good enough to make it hard on everyone.

    • Eric says:

      Indeed. I think we tend to forget (especially after, say, the shambolic display that Gooch and JAB put on against Ukraine) that in his last appearance–against Guatemala in the last 2012 WCQ match–Boca just got absolutely jobbed by Carlos Ruiz.

      That being said, his being dropped from the team and stripped of the captaincy probably could have happened with much more tact, which really isn’t a big ask for a player who has given so much to the USMNT program over the years.

  3. patrick says:

    even after his USMNT career is done, he’s still a good soldier. I really believe that Carlos is OK with everything that happened. I also believe he would have liked some acknowledgement from Klinsmann/USSF.

    • EspinDOHla says:

      Exactly! That’s the point of my post above. After his wonderful service and leadership to the USMNT after all those years, it is/was kind of crappy that USSF hasn’t shown him any gratitude whatsoever.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I think he’s a good soldier and not necessarily happy with the way his marching orders delivered. A good soldier says it was for the good of the team and leaves the “but it was handled with all the tact of being run down by a wildebeast” implied. But let’s be real, if it was handled right it would have been ceremonious then and not even a point of discussion now. That it’s coming up now, even if only to have them deny they’re upset, suggests at least someone thinks it was injustice and remains an open issue….send-off series angle perhaps.

  4. FRANK says:


    • Wispy says:

      Sorry, FRANK, this post falls short of your normal hilarious standards. So much so that I question whether this is really you.

      • Horsewhistle says:

        I am going to give it a pass as it meets 3 of the FRANK Requirements I can recall: ALL CAPS, grammatical or diction error and non-sequitur. Incomplete sentence could be a fourth. Additionally, it made me chuckle, a la FRANK.

  5. Curtis says:

    Is it crazy to think that Bocanegra could still be of service to this WC cycle? If either Besler or Gonzo go injured or get suspended during group play, who else would you trust more in a big game scenario? I would much rather tie my world cup dreams to Bocanegra than Goodson or Brooks (although ultimately all 3 have their issues).

    • Maykol says:

      Idk about that. Goodson has been pretty solid for the last year. Some people even want him starting ahead of gonzo

      • Duke says:

        He would be if he got a cool haircut

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        All due respect but Goodson is a liability too. Too giraffe on roller skates. The only reason he is in the discussion is Gonzo dives in and can be a giraffe too, Cameron is a good athlete but a crudely positioned defender, Brooks hands goals out like Halloween candy, and on and on. People are remaining viable on a least worst basis.

    • Duke says:

      And this is exactly why Parkhurst will go. He can play all positions on the back line and is the best insurance policy JK could get

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Does he play any of them well? I think versatility is overrated if it’s like, he’d be the 5th best option here, ditto there, but “he can play both.” Parkhurst is not a particularly fast wing and is too small for CB. He’d get his tail kicked. I’d rather have individual specialists than a bunch of jack of all trades masters of none……same with him as Cameron, Castillo, FJ, and others. Show me one place I can actually use you against the drawn sides without biting down fingernails.

    • Bongwater says:

      I’m not gonna be the guy who plays “Bocanegra Advocate” on here (although I wish somebody would — even Freddy Adu has groupies making his case here).

      I will say that in the (very unlikely event) that JK find himself looking over uninspiring fullback options on the eve of selection and decides he’d rather toss the dice on the old war horse as an experienced backup option and proven leader, I will trust his judgement and not complain.

  6. Brad says:

    Can’t see how he could be upset about his national team career ending. He was in his 30’s and couldn’t get a game in Spain’s second division. It would’ve been silly to keep calling in an average player who’s not going to get any better, team’s need to move on and the beginning of a new World Cup cycle is the perfect time to do it. Even if he is upset at how it happened there wouldn’t be a controversy, players get old and team’s need to get younger and give experience to those younger players. I’m very happy he’s not in the setup anymore.

    • Luke says:

      I would agree with you except they’ve called in Gooch and IMHO Boca was and still is a better player.

    • EspinDOHla says:

      Uhhh…based on his quotes in the article, he does not seem upset. However, a little gratitude for his years of service/leadership from USSF would probably be nice.

      • Brad says:

        I’m not talking about his quotes, just the general nature of the article and conversation around his exit. Acting as if there could be a controversy after a 32-year old gets left out of the national team is an overreaction, which isn’t surprising considering the US soccer community overreacts to everything. I’m very grateful for his service, just didn’t put it in that comment.

  7. KMac says:

    Much Respect for Captain America!
    Men with his character, leadership charisma, locker room presence, experience, and skill are rare commodities in any team, let alone the current US defense. I appreciate him taking the high road. But anyone who’s been watching for the last decade or longer can easily see he deserved a more respectful treatment at the end of a very successful International Career from US Soccer’s administration, coaching staff, and fans than he got. Sure he aged like all of us have (or will), but he deserved to be treated with some RESPECT.
    Most teams pay some sort of tribute to a leader who is “retiring” from international play, rather then dumping them in an abrupt fashion. Just 2 cents from a long time US Fan.

    • Sabella says:


      It’s not a sport for 35 year olds but the man deserved some respect. His handling of the matter is pure class.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      I agree, but time hasn’t ended. There is a lot of focus on the WCup right now.

      Maybe it is just “in the works”

    • EspinDOHla says:

      +1 for Captain America!!

  8. Maykol says:

    Man, i remember like 2 years go, i was fully expecting him to start at the wprld cup with Geoff Cameron

  9. Jason says:

    I would love to have Boca back with the national team. Especially if Klinsmann really is considering bringing Onyewu to Brazil.

  10. Brad says:

    Boca is one of the greatest warriors for the USMNT of all time, and deserves a sendoff game sometime after this cycle. I usually only travel to WC qualifier or GC games, but will go where ever this game is played. There is no doubt in my mind that in the best 11 all time for the Yanks, Boca starts, and has a claim to the arm band.

    That said, there is a long history of new coaches having to move on from older players. The same thing will happen to Landon, Dempsey etc….It seems like it could have been done differently, but I doubt we really know the whole situation.

  11. Vic says:

    Can’t really blame him for taking the high road. As a former captain, its not very nice to try and create disunity for your team right before the World Cup. Can’t blame Klinnsmann either, not many 35 years olds will be playing at the World Cup on any team.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      The team generally has such continuity, leadership, and professionalism where I think the old guard understands how it goes. I see it both ways. It would be nice to do him a solid with a send off but let’s be real, you get too old in the midst of quali and you should be gone. You don’t put I ahead of team. He had to have known this might happen when he showed up for the last one at 30.

      This stuff with him and Dolo is what happens when you hang on to the bitter end. But remembering how bad Reyna looked at 2006, being done before a big show embarrassment is probably a favor.

  12. Rakesh says:

    Klinsmann will probably take 4 CB’s in the 23-man WC squad, and the 4th CB is usually a genuine back-up with no real chance of playing. If Gooch is getting called up, I don’t see why Boca can’t get a look. He’s playing too, is captain at yet another club team and brings leadership skill as well as WC experience. He’d be a great locker room presence, will offer good advice on the training pitches to the young defenders and has a good rapport with guys like Howard, Dempsey, etc. Heck, I’d call in Jay DeMerit over Gooch (injury-prone, clumsy) or JAB (great upside but just too raw) My starting CB pairing would be Besler and Cameron with DeMerit/Goodson and Boca as their back-ups.
    I just get the feeling that Klinsmann and Boca had a bit of a fall-out after Honduras (note the tone of this article; it was “them” who stopped calling me in and his FB message after the Strauss article)
    I think he’s been the best MNT captain, really good with the fans and media and really likeable and marketable. He’s been a great leader and a genuine stalwart; US Soccer should definitely honor him at an All-Star game or at a friendly game near his home towm

  13. Dennis says:

    If Boca stays healthy, and plays well AND some of the younger guys get injured before Brazil, it is good that there is an experienced back who can still play good defense in the middle despite the age and quickness issues. I don’t expect it, it would probably take serious injuries to at least 3 of Gonzo, Besler, Goodson, Orozco, Gooch and Ream but Boca’s ability is nice insurance of a kind.

  14. FDV says:

    I remember when Thomas Dooley got a final match. That was pretty cool.