CARSON, Calif. — Chivas USA center back Carlos Bocanegra will be a keen observer Tuesday night when the US national team takes on Mexico in World Cup qualifying (8 pm ET, ESPN/UniMas), but only because he won’t be in Columbus, Ohio.
The former USMNT captain would much rather not be a spectator.
“I’d love to be there, obviously,” Bocanegra told reporters after Sunday night's 1-0 Chivas win over D.C. United. “I was lucky enough to play in quite a few of those. Hopefully we go out there and get the job done. They’ve got some new guys in there, which happens with injuries and suspensions. We have a deep roster. We’ll get the job done.”
Bocanegra, who became the 12th US player to surpass the century mark in caps, last appeared for the USMNT on Nov. 14, 2012, against Russia. The last time he faced Mexico was in August of 2011, a 1-1 friendly result in Philadelphia that was Jurgen Klinsmann's first game in charge.
The 34-year-old veteran expects the US to bounce back from last Friday's 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.
“The biggest thing is guys keeping their confidence,” Bocanegra said. “They’re not going to get too low. They’ve got a lot of experience with guys that have been through this before. They’ve got to roll with the punches a little bit.
"Even a draw, in the big scheme of things, is not the worst against Mexico at home. They have all the pressure, so they’re going to have to come out and at times chase the game. That should benefit the US.”
Though the absence of the injured Michael Bradley is a major loss, Bocanegra remains confident that someone else will step up in the important qualifier.
“He’s a big, important player right down the center of the field, but it happens and other guys have to step in,” said Bocanegra, who has played in seven matches for Chivas USA since returning to MLS in early July. “And who knows — maybe someone comes up and shines in this game and they get a spot on the World Cup team.
"It’s a team effort and a long road. It should be a fun one to watch.”
Blair Angulo covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com.