5 USMNT Players Whose Stock Fell at 2014 World Cup
Now that the United States men's national team has been eliminated from the 2014 World Cup, much of the focus has turned to a number of USMNT players who are rumored to be gearing up for big moves to Europe on the back of their strong play in the tournament.
Similarly, there were a few U.S. players who didn't do their careers any big favors by their comparatively weak play.
Here are five of them.
Graham Zusi didn't have a particularly awful tournament—he just didn't have the outstanding performance many were expecting.
After spurning offers from Europe in 2013 to re-sign with Major League Soccer, the 2014 World Cup was the perfect time for Zusi to show off his homegrown talents.
However, it didn't happen.
While his Sporting Kansas City teammate Matt Besler was outstanding—so much so that he has reportedly generated "enormous interest" from Europe, per Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star—Zusi's play was marked largely by lost possessions and poor touches.
And his lauded service from the flank and set-piece delivery, expected to be a major asset to the U.S. cause, was generally poor through the U.S.'s four games.
It's hard to criticize Timmy Chandler's play—especially since he didn't actually play—but his benching also says quite a bit about how little head coach Jurgen Klinsmann trusted his fellow German-American.
Chandler had a spotty performance against Turkey in the U.S.'s send-off series, which was apparently enough to doom him in Klinsmann's eyes.
Instead, the U.S. relied on 32-year-old DaMarcus Beasley as the U.S.'s other full-back—Fabian Johnson was always going to start, it just depended on which side. Beasley, who was widely criticized heading into the tournament, did just fine against Ghana, Portugal, Germany and Belgium, while Chandler sat.
And when Johnson went down in the round of 16 match against Belgium with a hamstring injury, Klinsmann didn't look to Chandler, he instead went with inexperienced youngster DeAndre Yedlin.
Alejandro Bedoya became a regular for Klinsmann and the USMNT following the 2013 Gold Cup.
However, in Bedoya's 13 starts since then, including all three starts and one second-half substitution at the 2014 World Cup, Bedoya has contributed zero goals and only one assist.
None of us were in on the tactical discussions held between Klinsmann and the team, and it may be that Klinsmann used Bedoya simply for his defensive effort—which at many times was excellent—but the fact is Bedoya's offensive contribution to the U.S. has been virtually nil over the past year.
He was among the team leaders in minutes played at the 2014 World Cup but any fan would struggle to think of one key contribution he made on the offensive end of the ball in any one of the U.S.'s four games.
Michael Bradley's 2014 World Cup is an enigma.
Although he covered more ground than any other player in the tournament, completed the most passes of anyone on the U.S. and finished with an 87 percent pass completion rating, subjectively, he didn't make the impact most American fans were expecting.
Pushed into a higher position on the field in order to accommodate both Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones, Bradley seemed to struggle at key moments in the tournament. He has often been called the engine of the U.S. midfield, but in his more attacking role, he failed to be overly impressive.
Having returned to MLS after a year-and-a-half with European powerhouse AS Roma, Bradley's 2014 World Cup surely won't have the European suitors knocking on his door.
At 31 years old, no matter what kind of tournament Wondolowski had, he likely wasn't headed anywhere.
But this summer's World Cup will have permanently tarnished Wondo's international legacy in the eyes of many fans.
After being MLS's leading scorer in 2010, 2011 and 2012, Wondolowski's poaching ability had become well-known.
In friendlies against South Korea and Mexico this spring, Wondo scored and seemingly did enough to put him in the squad over fellow forwards Eddie Johnson, Landon Donovan and Terrence Boyd.
His value to the squad was to come into a match late in the game when the U.S. needed to capitalize on a late opportunity to get a goal.
He had that opportunity against Belgium in the third minute of stoppage time of the second half in the round of 16. With the score tied 0-0, the ball fell to Wondo for an open chance at the edge of the six-yard box. He missed, the game went into extra-time and the U.S. lost.
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