For the first time since the USA arrived on the international soccer scene our top senior players are following the example of other nation’s top players and retiring after the World Cup. Eddie Pope has become the latest player to call it quits on a national team career, joining Brian McBride and Claudio Reyna. In my opinion, the fact that our more senior players tried to hang on to national team glory well past their prime inhibited the development of younger players and in the late Steve Sampson era caused open rebellion within the squad. While we have had some fantastic players in their 30s, many of those same players have tried to reclaim past glory well past the proper time to call it quits. A few like Jeff Agoos just wanted a chance to play in a World Cup. Others like Roy Wegerle and Thomas Dooley just flat out played beyond the point when they could be helpful to the national team.
Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and Eddie Pope have not only been great warriors for the national team but they now have added to their legacy with this important precedent they have set. The tradition of timely international retirements has worked for the top national teams in the world and let’s hope that this fine example is followed in the future and bears similar fruits for our national team.