SAO PAULO – With the end of every World Cup, it also means the end of a generation of players for every national team. That is no different for the United States, which will see several players move on after playing what will likely be their final World Cups.
While sometimes there are instances were players wind up never returning to the World Cup under surprising circumstances (see Landon Donovan), oftentimes we know when the end is coming, even for the very best of players.
Here is a rundown of players who are very likely to have played in their final World Cup.
As much as he was still playing at a high level in the 2014 World Cup, he has to know that being a 35-year-old player in 2018 doesn’t bode well for a return for a fourth World Cup. As it stands, he ends his World Cup career as the first American to score in three straight World Cups, and he helped give American fans some amazing memories. Replacing him is certainly not going to be easy.
The 32-year-old Beasley became the first American to play in four World Cups, then he saved his best for last, playing excellently in the team’s loss to Belgium. It might seem risky to rule out a player few would have pegged to make the 2014 team four years ago, but with plenty of young fullback talent in the pipeline, Beasley has probably played his last national team match.
A player who, at 32, might have been considered a long shot for the 2014 team, all Jones did was play the best World Cup of any American field player in Brazil. His heart and toughness were the driving forces behind the U.S. team’s run to the Round of 16, and while he won’t be around in 2018, the memory of his performance in Brazil won’t soon be forgotten.
Another late bloomer, Beckerman’s first World Cup was an impressive one. The 32-year-old defensive midfielder gave the U.S. a rock in the middle, and Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to leave him out of the Belgium match is seen as one of the few mistakes Klinsmann made at this World Cup.
We won’t know for sure if this was Howard’s final World Cup, but he’s already talking like someone who doesn’t expect to be starting for the U.S. in Russia. With Brad Guzan playing at a high level, Howard might make it back for a fourth World Cup, but may do so as a backup after two straight tournaments as a starter.