A Chicago Flavor For The U.S. Men's World Cup Squad

By Ben Schuman Stoler in News on May 26, 2010 6:40PM

US Men's National Team coach Bob Bradley has just announced the final 23-man roster for the World Cup and many players and coaches will go to South Africa as representatives and products of Chicagoland's influence in world soccer. You'll notice the prominence of Sockers FC Chicago, who, along with the Chicago Magic (Chicago's other club soccer powerhouse), tend to churn out talent, and it's hard not to see the influence of the Chicago Fire - proof, perhaps, that the MLS has indeed made a difference.

  • Defender Jonathon Spector, like US soccer legend (and current Chicago Fire striker) Brian McBride, grew up in Arlington Heights. He went to St. Viator High School, and played club ball with local clubs Schwaben and Sockers before going to the Bradenton Academy, eventually playing for Chicago Fire Premier before getting scouted and then signed by Manchester United in 2003. In 2006 he moved to West Ham, and he's made 87 appearances for them since. Not bad. Despite the impressive pedigree of Sockers-Bradenton-Manchester, and despite playing most of the season for West Ham this year, it has to be said that 24 year-old Spector is still trying to reach the potential Manchester scouts saw when he was 17 and considered one of the best defensive talents America had to offer. He should see considerable playing time in June, so here's to a breakout summer.
  • 22 year-old Midfielder Michael Bradley is coach Bob Bradley's son. He was born in Princeton, NJ, but when the elder Bradley became coach of the Fire in 1998, the Bradleys moved to Palatine. The younger Bradley used to shag balls for that MLS Cup winning squad during practice, and started turning heads himself when he played for Sockers at the 2002 National Championship. Like Spector, Bradley did the Sockers to Bradenton thing, and got his first professional contract at 16, for the NY/NJ Metrostars (now the New York Red Bulls). Since '06 he's played in Europe, and more recently he's been a consistent starter for Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach. Despite an initially tepid reception on the part of some fans (coach's son syndrome...) Bradley's played well for USMNT and will most likely start in center midfield, where he's already tallied 7 goals in 41 appearances.
  • Polish-American Goalie Brad Guzan, unlike Bradley and Spector, is a south suburban product. He's from Homer Glen, went to high school at Providence Catholic, and played for Magic before starring at the University of Southern California and the Chicago Fire Reserves. In 2005 he was picked up by Chivas USA and was sold to English Premier League squad Aston Villa in 2008. At Villa, Guzan has a reputation as a penalty kick master despite spending most of the time backing up former USMNT star Brad Friedel. Unfortunately, it looks like he'll stay as a back up this summer, but if something happens to #1 Tim Howard, Guzan may well get a chance to make a name for himself.

Notable other stuff: Both Carlos Bocanegra and DaMarcus Beasley have played for the Fire in the past...Piotr Nowak, Chicago Fire and Polish community hero, was an assistant coach of the USMNT but left this winter to coach the Philadelphia Union...Midfielder Ricardo Clark and defender Jay Demerit (who went to UIC) played at Chicago Fire Premier...Jermain Jones, the enigmatic German-American who probably would've made the World Cup if not for injury, spent time in Chicago growing up before returning to Deutschland.