Two of the biggest former Chivas USA stars, goalkeeper Brad Guzan and midfielder Sacha Kljestan, were selected to the U.S. Men's National Team for the final CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, and both players got minutes in the final round, both wins for the USMNT.
First, Kljestan came off the bench in the 72nd minute last week in the Americans' 2-0 victory over Jamaica in Kansas City. Although he wasn't involved in the goals, they both came after he entered the match, as head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's in-game adjustments once again paid dividends. In case you are wondering, the goals in that game were scored by Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore.
Then on Tuesday, Guzan replaced Tim Howard in goal and he and Kljestan both started and played the full game against Panama in Panama City, which ended in a wild 3-2 win for the U.S. Although the USMNT has already qualified for the World Cup and the last two matches had no bearing on that status for the Americans, Panama was still playing for a spot, and they took the lead twice. Although Guzan couldn't keep the clean sheet once again for his national team, the visitors scored two shock goals in stoppage time, as once again Zusi got the team level, and striker Aron Johannsson scored a stunner a minute later to give the Americans three more points, knock Panama out of the running for the World Cup, and give Mexico a lifeline for their own World Cup hopes with a playoff berth against New Zealand.
Looking to Brazil 2014 itself, it seems safe to say that Guzan should be an automatic selection for the U.S., as long as he remains healthy and maintains his fine form for Aston Villa. Kljestan, on the other hand, will likely be on the bubble. Although he has played in five matches for the national team this year, his skills make him something of a "tweener" in the midfield set-up and he has been in and out of Klinsmann's teams. If he can catch fire and impress the boss (for an Anderlecht team that has admittedly struggled in multiple competitions so far this season), and perhaps if a player ahead of him in the depth chart loses form or suffers an injury, he could be on the plane as well.
Turning away from the United States, another former Goat, Michael Umana, has continued to be a fixture for the Costa Rican national team, and started in their last qualifier, a 2-1 win over the aforementioned Mexico Tuesday. Costa Rica was in a similar position to the United States, in that they had already wrapped up qualification to the World Cup last month, finishing the hexagonal in second place, just behind the U.S.
The center back has played all 12 qualifiers for the Ticos this year, and looks to be in line to play in his second World Cup, should he maintain form and health. As a member of powerhouse Costa Rican club Saprissa, he will likely see plenty of action ahead of the World Cup, and will in all likelihood be on their plane to Brazil as well.
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