Throughout this current MLS season, a few Union players have been called up to play for the US national team in the Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifiers. Among those players were Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius, and C.J. Sapong. However, Sapong only made it as far as the preliminary roster as Pontius and Bedoya made it to the final roster for the USA. In the group stages, Bedoya proved he was a solid selection for his national team as he put in a couple Man of the Match performances and led the USMNT to the Round of 16. Along his journey though, he had to leave after group stage competition as he and his wife welcomed their newborn baby, Milena Bedoya, into their lives while Pontius remained with the U.S. national team.
Although these players made the roster for the Gold Cup tournament this year, I had some other fellow Union players in mind such as Oguchi Oneywu and Fabrice-Jean Picault.
Picault is worthy of a chance to play with the U.S. based on his speed and precision on the wing this year. He has shown the Union organization that he can play with the best in the MLS as Bruce Arena could definitely use a pace-minded winger going forward for his team.
But if we are talking about who has a better opportunity to make the roster in a few years down the line it would have to be Fafa as he is still only 26 and has his best years ahead of him. Fafa Picault has made an appearance with the USMNT in May 2016 against Puerto Rico.
A few reasons why Onyewu deserves a call-up are because he proved to be a great defensive leader and a strong advocate for the Union as the USMNT desperately needs a vocal center back throughout their World Cup Qualifiers. As of right now, Onyewu would have a better chance of making roster over his teammate Picault, as he would serve as a veteran defender in the future of the team.
On another note, as Onyewu grows older and gains more experience, he also learns a lot more about the game of soccer. While he might not be in his prime right now, I still believe he could be a force to be reckoned with for the USA on their journey through the World Cup Qualifiers. Oguchi Oneywu has made many appearances with the USMNT from 2004-2014 as he won the Gold Cup Final with the team in 2005, 2007, and 2013.
One more player that will need a few more years to grow and develop as a winger is Marcus Epps, as he could prove his worth to play for his respective national team as a hard working, skillful player in MLS.
While he has already been called up for the United States preliminary roster this year, I believe C.J. Sapong deserves another shot to compete for the striker position on the USMNT. This year in MLS, Sapong has proven that he has shown his full potential and incredible talent by scoring a career high 12 goals this season and adding 4 assists for the Union.
Even though the U.S. have had great success from the striker position this year with Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris, I truly believe that Sapong could play the role of a substitute going forward for the USA in World Cup Qualifying. He is gifted with raw talent and has shown to everyone this season that he has enough skill to play a part in the USMNT journey to the World Cup while playing under Bruce Arena.
In conclusion, as some of the Union players may not be needed as of now to play for the USMNT, there is certainly a time that they could be called upon in the future. While these players would love to represent their country in the World Cup in 2018, there is no denying anyone a roster spot as anything could happen leading up to one of the biggest competitions in the world.
As to whether a Union player will be wearing the Stars and Stripes, we will have to wait and see but whatever happens we can all feel satisfied knowing the potential our coveted Union players have going forward.
“Photo: Jeff Carlisle/ESPNFC”
“Photo: Colton Coreschi/SBISoccer”