Major League Soccer and the USMNT are tied together like bacon and scallops. The MLS bacon imbues the USMNT scallop with a certain smokey flavor. Or, it did. The amount of MLS bacon has dwindled in recent years, to the point that the direct impact of the league on the USMNT is at an all-time low.
There are still a handful of MLS players in the USMNT mix. Those who can make Klinsmann's cut are generally the league's biggest stars. This past weekend in MLS, the number of USMNT players playing was limited by schedule quirks and U-23 Olympic qualifying.
Those Americans playing in America's top league—as more and more of their countrymen go abroad for brighter lights and bigger paychecks—who manage to get called-up are most often in positions of greatest National Team need. See: Cameron, Geoff.
Quick show of hands: How many of you know which Major League Soccer players are regulars in Jurgen Klinsmann's US National Team?
Those with your hands raised...name them. Quickly!
If you said "Landon Donovan", I'm sorry, but you're wrong. Only technically, of course, since Donovan hasn't yet suited up for Jurgen Klinsmann, but certainly will as soon as he is able. After Donovan, it gets a little difficult to rattle off the MLSers who are established in the US squad.
Here are the four who made the cut the last time Klinsmann called up a team (for the match against Itay on February 29th):
GK Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
DF Geoff Cameron, Houston Dynamo
MF Brek Shea, FC Dallas
FW Edson Buddle, LA Galaxy
For that particular team, Brek Shea was a late call-up, one of two replacements brought in for the ill Landon Donovan and the (reportedly) injured Timmy Chandler.
In this past weekend's MLS action, only Cameron and Rimando played, both in losses. Shea was with the U-23s in Nashville, while Buddle and LA had the week off.
It was Nick Rimando's failure to hold onto a high ball in the box that allowed Chivas USA's Casey Townsend to score, giving the visitors a win over the home-standing RSL. The loss was mildly shocking, both because Rimando is among the league's best decision-makers at goalkeeper, and because RSL had shot out to such a hot start in the league.
Cameron and Houston fell to Seattle in Seattle, 2-0. The match was a nightmare from Cameron's perspective, thanks to a deflected goal scored by David Estrada off of Cameron and the penalty called on the Dynamo center-back for his bump of Patrick Ianni on a corner kick.
MLS players on the USMNT fringe abound. Most notable of those who played in MLS Week 3 are Graham Zusi (both assists in Sporting Kansas City's 2-1 win over FC Dallas), Chris Wondolowski (a pair of goals in San Jose's road win over Toronto) and Kyle Beckerman, who put in his usual solid midfield effort for Real Salt Lake in their losing effort against Chivas.