After 110 caps, 14 goals and a solid-if-unheralded career captaining the United States national team, Carlos Bocanegra is no longer a contributing member of Jurgen Klinsmann’s side.
He’s going to watch his first World Cup as a non-participant since 2002 this summer, in all likelihood. And in an interview with Goal.com, he sounds like he’s mostly got a handle on it… though he isn’t closing the door and he isn’t anywhere near ready to retire from club soccer.
Though he is acutely aware it’s been closed for him.
“They stop calling you in and it comes to an end for everybody,” Bocanegra said. “That’s how I looked at it. I gave everything for that team and I feel like I can hold my head up high and be proud, and say, ‘You know what? I don’t have regrets.’ It was them who told me they’re not bringing me in anymore.”
“If someone goes down or whatever, a change of heart, they need me back in there and he thinks I’m playing well for my club team? Great. But if not? I’ll cheer on the team just like I would any other time.”
And it’s not like Bocanegra doesn’t have a challenge to occupy his time. Chivas USA is now 1-1-2 on the season under Wilmer Cabrera, with a win over Chicago and draws against New York and Vancouver.
He’s gone 90 minutes in all four matches, and he’s staring straight-ahead at the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday.
Personally, I’ve always been a huge fan of Bocanegra and am a bit puzzled that there hasn’t been more of a debate at whether his exclusion is righteous. When a nation is fit to keep a younger player for the experience, why not a vet for, well, the experience.
The group stage of qualification is complete, as 20 teams have clinched a berth at EURO 2016, which kicks off next summer in France.
The top-two finishers in each group automatically qualified, as did the best third-place side out of all the groups (Turkey). France qualified automatically as the host nation.
[ MORE: EURO 2016 roundup ]
That leaves eight third-place teams to battle for the final four spots through a play-off. The draw for the matchups will take place on October 18, and those matches will be held from November 12-17 as a home-and-home play-off.
- Czech Republic
- Turkey (automatically qualified as best third-place side)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (qualified for play-off)
- Ukraine (qualified for play-off)
- Republic of Ireland (qualified for play-off)
- Slovenia (qualified for play-off)
- Northern Ireland
- Hungary (qualified for play-off)
- Sweden (qualified for play-off)
- Norway (qualified for play-off)
- Denmark (qualified for play-off)
The group stage of qualifying for the 2016 European Championship has come to a close, and one of the top teams in the world will not be playing in France next summer.
Netherlands 2-3 Czech Republic
The Netherlands finished second at the 2010 World Cup and third at the 2014 World Cup, but have failed to qualify for EURO 2016. Playing in front of a home crowd in a must-win match against the Czech Republic, the Dutch got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 2-0 as manager Danny Blind was forced to make a substitution within the opening 40 minutes. The Czech Republic was sent to ten men before the break, but an own-goal from Robin Van Persie made it 3-0 as the Dutch couldn’t recover. A disastrous result for the Netherlands, as big changes will surely come from the top down.
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Italy 2-1 Norway
Italy finishes atop Group H without a loss after defeating Norway 2-1 today. Norway took the lead through Norwich City’s Alexander Tettey, but late goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Southampton’s Graziano Pelle gave the Italians all three points.
Malta 0-1 Croatia
With Norway’s loss, Croatia jumped into second place in Group H and secured qualification to EURO 2016 with a 1-0 win away at Malta. Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic scored the game’s only goal, as Croatia advances despite having one point deducted due to inappropriate actions from their fans.
Elsewhere in EURO qualifying
Turkey 1-0 Iceland
Latvia 0-1 Kazakhstan
Belgium 3-1 Israel
Wales 2-0 Andorra
Cyprus 2-3 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria 2-0 Azerbaijan