A day before his 23rd birthday, Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers received an early present that was both a little surprising, and very welcome.
The Crew midfielder on Tuesday was named to the U.S. national team’s preliminary 30-man World Cup roster, joining fellow Crew youngster Chad Marshall in the U.S. camp, beginning May 17 in Princeton, N.J.
The two will play for the Crew against Chivas USA on Saturday night before departing for camp. The final 23-man roster is due June 1.
“I am so happy,” Rogers said. “This is the first step to making the final roster, but it’s a big step.”
Marshall, 25, earned the nod after he was named the MLS Defender of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
“I’m happy right now to be in the 30,” Marshall said. “I’m going to go there and give it my best and see what happens.”
Rogers has nine caps with the club dating back to his debut last year. He scored a goal and added two assists in a win over Grenada during the CONCACAF Gold Cup last summer.
“The Olympic year , I was thinking I probably wouldn’t make the team,” he said. “I thought it was a long shot, but I made it. When I was younger I didn’t think I’d make the Under-20 team and did. Now, I really wanted a chance to be on the 30-man roster, but I seriously didn’t think I had a chance before last January’s [national team] camp.”
Marshall made his first appearance with the team in 2005, and was named to the All-Tournament roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup last year. He’s scored one goal in 11 appearances with the senior team.
Marshall missed three of the first four Crew matches this season with a hamstring strain, but went the distance last Saturday in a 3-2 win over New England.
“Hopefully, I can stay healthy and go into this camp and play well,” he said. “With the injuries, I’ve had I definitely had some doubts.”
The news wasn’t as good, however, for two older Crew members who likely saw their final shot at the World Cup disappear.
Midfielder Duncan Oughton, 32, learned Sunday he was left off the 23-man roster for his native New Zealand.
“It’s pretty much the dream taken away from your fingertips,” said Oughton, who has 22 career caps with the Kiwis. “I could taste it, it was so close. I started five of the eight qualifiers, five wins.”
Defender Frankie Hejduk, 35, was disappointed but had braced himself for the fact he would not have the chance for a third World Cup appearance for the U.S. He played in 1998 and 2002 and was named to the 2006 team, but suffered a knee injury and could not participate.
He said he had a conversation with national team coach Bob Bradley about three weeks ago and came away with a good idea he would not be selected, despite 85 caps for his country. Bradley called Monday night and left a message telling Hejduk he did not make the cut.
“I’m at peace with it,” Hejduk said. “I gave it my best effort. I helped the team qualify. I wanted to go. He elected to go in a different direction and that’s fine, too. You respect the decision. I wish I was a part of it.”
“I’m not going to do any kind of retirement announcement for the national team ever,” he said. “I would love to play for the national team again. Is it going to happen? Probably not, but I wouldn’t say no.”
Hejduk thinks his two teammates have a good shot at following in his footsteps to the World Cup.
“They’ve really got to have a sharp camp because they are probably two bubble guys,” he said. “They’re both players who I think can help the team do well in South Africa.”
Other players bound for the World Cup with Columbus connections include former Crew midfielder Simon Elliott (New Zealand) and Kansas City Wizards midfielder Roger Espinoza (Honduras), who is the first Ohio State player to appear on a World Cup roster.