The lead up to World Cup 2006 was costly for the United States. Not only did Team USA play opponents in friendlies that did not prepare them for the ultimate test in football, but both Frankie Hejduk and Cory Gibbs went down with serious injuries.
Hejduk in particular was a huge blow: The best American during World Cup 1998 was also solid in 2002. His injury meant Steve Cherundolo whose international career has yet to match the quality he’s shown on the club level was counted on in Germany. But what was forgotten by many in writing the post mortem’s about the tournament was how much Cory Gibbs could have helped the United States.
Gibbs likely would have played ahead of Carlos Bocanegra either on the left side or at left centre back. Bruce Arena was in particular stunned when Gibbs after 90 minutes of action against Morocco was ruled out of the World Cup and in fact missed a year and a half of action. Gibbs never played a match in the Premiership for Charlton Athletic, depsite being the first Florida native signed by the PL club: by the time he was healthy Charlton had been relegated and was playing out the string in a disappointing Coca Cola Championship campaign.
But now, Gibbs is finally healthy and making a huge impact as his new club the Colorado Rapids under Gary Smith push a playoff spot. Gibbs looks like he’s healthy enough and confident enough to play for the United States again. With Bob Bradley’s side virtually assured of passage to the Hexagonal in CONCACAF qualifying, I believe now would be a great time to call Gibbs into the team and see if he is back to the level he played at between 2003 and 2006. If Gibbs is in fact back, he can be a great asset to a US backline that while playing better, still needs to be sured up before facing the likes of Mexico and Costa Rica.
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