SEATTLE — A couple hours after the U.S. national team lifted the CONCACAF Gold Cup trophy in Chicago, former captain Carlos Bocanegra suited up for his new club, Chivas USA. The Goats lost 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC, wasting an early one-goal lead.
Bocanegra said it felt good to be back playing in Major League Soccer, despite the result.
“We wound up losing, so that part kind of sucks,” he told NBC ProSoccerTalk after the game. “Just on a personal level, it’s nice to be back. … It worked out nicely to be back in Southern California.”
Stuck aboard a sinking ship when Rangers FC went into liquidation, Bocanegra joined Racing Santander on loan in Spain’s second tier rather than staying on Scotland’s bottom rung and risking his national team career.
Of course, U.S. head coach Jürgen Klinsmann has since dropped Bocanegra from the team, first stripping him of the captain’s armband and unceremoniously benching him for the first match in the final round of World Cup qualifying, then deciding not to call him up for any subsequent matches.
Bocanegra maintained that his exclusion from the Gold Cup squad was due to his unsettled club situation, which was what Klinsmann said when he announced the roster. The 34-year-old center back made 23 appearances for Santander in the 42-game 2012-13 season before signing with MLS and Chivas USA this month.
“I always would like to be there with them,” Bocanegra said. “I spoke to Jürgen beforehand, and we kind of decided I wanted to get settled with my club team, wherever I go, first and foremost, and get playing, get minutes there. He’s seen me play enough times.”
But after the way his last year has gone, the Alta Loma, Calif., native has to feel good about his new home, even if the team isn’t getting results. Even though Toronto FC held the top spot in MLS’s allocation ranking, Chivas traded up to sign Bocanegra.
“It was nice that they really made a big play for me,” he said. “It’s nice to be wanted, so that was cool.”
That might be Bocanegra’s biggest victory of the last six months: feeling wanted again. For now, that seems to be enough for him, regardless of whether Klinsmann comes calling for the friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina in two weeks or the World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Mexico in September.
“I’m not really concentrating on that too much,” he said. “I’m not thinking about it too much. I’ve got to come in here, play well, do my job, and if he calls me back in, awesome. If not, that’s the way things go, and I’ve got to carry on doing my job here.”