NEW YORK (AP) — Charlie Davies, the forward who was convinced he could recover from a shattering car crash in time for the World Cup, fell short of making the 30-man preliminary U.S. roster for the tournament.
While Tuesday’s announcement of the players invited to training camp was tough for him, it was a day of unexpected highs for Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez, a pair of veteran forwards selected for the team. At the start of the year, they were such afterthoughts they weren’t even listed in the 2010 U.S. media guide.
The same for Alejandro Bedoya, a 23-year-old midfielder who didn’t make his international debut until January.
“It’s kind of like a dream,” Gomez said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I’ll leave Saturday. I really don’t know what to expect.”
Still, they haven’t quite made the World Cup just yet. U.S. coach Bob Bradley must cut seven players to reach the 23-man limit by June 1, the day the team starts workouts in South Africa.
Davis was badly hurt in an Oct. 13 accident in Virginia, when he broke curfew ahead of the final U.S. World Cup qualifier. Originally forecast to be out a year, he has made it back to training with his French club Sochaux but has yet to play in any games.
While teammates and fans were pulling for the popular 23-year-old, U.S. coach Bob Bradley said Sochaux would not give Davies medical clearance to report to the national team.
“Given that status and our own evaluation of his progress, we feel it is in Charlie’s best interest to continue his rehabilitation and focus on getting fully prepared to resume his professional and international career,” Bradley said.
Davies, a passenger in the car, sustained a broken and dislocated left elbow, along with a broken right femur, tibia and fibula, in the crash. He also broke his nose, forehead and eye socket and was left with a ruptured bladder and bleeding on the brain.
Davies did not answer his cell phone after Bradley made the announcement during a live broadcast on ESPN News.
“Thank you all for your continued support and words of encouragement,” Davies wrote on Twitter. “It was a very sad day for me, as well, but now focused for next season!”
Forward Jozy Altidore, who appears likely to start for the U.S., offered his support online. “You’re a champion and a warrior no matter what anyone says and I’ll always have your back kid,” he wrote.
Gomez, a forward who completed his season last month with Puebla, had given up hope on World Cup selection when he didn’t hear anything Monday. The 28-year-old from Las Vegas scored 10 goals this year, becoming the first American to tie for the Mexican scoring lead, but made just two appearances for the national team, in the Copa America, that three years ago.
“When I didn’t get notice yesterday, I was kind of like, man, well, it was a fun ride, good run. Unlucky kind of feeling,” he said. “A part of me was kind of like, obviously very bummed out. I kind of gave myself a pep talk: ‘Well, you’ve come pretty far.”
He was in the middle of a possession drill Tuesday with Chivas USA, where he was practicing to stay in shape. Coach Martin Vazquez came over during a water break and said the U.S. Soccer Federation had just called with news of his selection.
“I was just like, ‘Wow! Thank you,’” Gomez said.
“Get back in the possession drill,” he remembered Vazquez responding.
Buddle, also 28, leads Major League Soccer with nine goals for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Named after Pele — Edson Arantes do Nascimento — Buddle’s only national team appearance was seven years ago, for 11 minutes in an exhibition against Venezuela.
“Nothing happens before the time,” Buddle said after Galaxy practice. “Maybe it’s my time to show what I can do.”
Like Gomez, Buddle is finally healthy after a string of injuries.
“It’s always refreshing to know that if you work hard and do things the right way, that you get rewarded,” said Landon Donovan, Buddle’s teammate on the Galaxy — and now the national team.
Players will start practice Monday at Princeton, N.J., and have exhibition games against the Czech Republic on May 25 at East Hartford, Conn., and versus Turkey four days later in Philadelphia. The Americans have a final exhibition against Australia on June 5 in suburban Johannesburg and play England in their World Cup opener on June 12.
Other notable selections included 26-year-old forward Eddie Johnson, a 2006 World Cup veteran who rebounded from several down years to score three goals for Aris in the Greek playoffs; and 27-year-old midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, a veteran of the 2002 and 2006 World Cup teams. He was picked despite not starting for Glasgow Rangers since March 9.
Houston forward Brian Ching, sidelined since April 1 with a hamstring injury, was selected and hopes to play for the Dynamo on Thursday. About 20 minutes before the announcement, his team administrator told him he made it. Still, he wondered and watched the broadcast.
“I was kind of relieved when I saw it up there,” he said.
Colorado forward Conor Casey, whose two goals at Honduras clinched a World Cup berth last October, was omitted, as was Freddy Adu, a teammate of Johnson on Aris.
AC Milan defender Oguchi Onyewu and Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden were picked and could start if healthy.
Onyewu has not played since tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee during the final World Cup qualifier on Oct. 14. Holden returned Sunday in Bolton’s season finale, his first appearance since March 3, when his right leg was broken during a challenge by the Netherlands’ Nigel de Jong during the Americans’ 2-1 exhibition loss in Amsterdam.
Now comes the hardest part: the final cutdown.
“Last time around, you knew you were on the team, so you were just concentrating on jelling and getting to know the guys,” Ching said. “This time around, it’s kind of going to be a big tryout.”
AP National Writer Nancy Armour contributed to this report.