World Cup: Former USMNT captain Carlos Bocanegra says Yanks "going in right direction" despite exit

A spectator during the World Cup for the first time in more than a decade, former US national team captain and Chivas USA center back Carlos Bocanegra was proud of the Americans’ performance in Brazil.

Following a 1-0 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night, the veteran defender told reporters at Buck Shaw Stadium he accurately prognosticated how the US would fare in the challenging group stage. When asked if he would have been content knowing the US would eventually advance to the knockout stage and take potent Belgium to extra time, Bocanegra said it would be a no-brainer.

“I would have taken that in a heartbeat,” Bocanegra said. “I thought we would beat Ghana this year. I thought we were going to draw Portugal; it was heartbreaking not to beat them at the end. I actually thought the tournament was going to go similarly to how it did, and in the knockout stages you don’t know what’s going to happen. It was just a heartbreaking loss again at the end.”

Despite the exit, Bocanegra was not surprised by his former teammates’ valiant effort.

“They gave everything on the field,” he said. “It was tough and heartbreaking. Timmy [Howard] did a great job to keep us in it, and we had chances to win it and pull back even in extra time. It didn’t bounce our way this time, but it’s the World Cup.

“The guys can be proud. They captured the nation again, which was awesome. I had a chance to watch it for the first time with friends and people in a bar in Las Vegas this year. It was an unbelievable atmosphere and was real cool to see. It was a fun ride.”

Naturally, Bocanegra paid close attention to the defensive performance.

“They did a good job,” the 35-year-old said. “They were very organized, very disciplined and had a great shape. We were playing against some very difficult teams: Belgium, Germany, Portugal and even Ghana, which has some very dynamic attacking players.

“We’re a smart team and nowadays in the World Cup, when people get us in their group, they’re not looking forward to that. They know it’s not an easy game, and they know they’re in for 90 minutes of fighting. We’re going in the right direction.”

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.