Djorkaeff, 1998
History of Metro at the World Cup
June 9, 2006

As the World Cup opens today, it will do so without any current Metro on any of the rosters. This is the first such occurrence since MLS's inception. A sad state of affairs regrading the team's current status, but in theory beneficial to the club's prospects for the next month. However, there are three ex-Metros on World Cup rosters: Tim Howard and Eddie Pope for the US, and Cornell Glen for Trinidad and Tobago.

So let's take a look at Metro at the World Cup history. Counting the three above, there are 28 all-time Metro players who have been a part of a World Cup roster, ranging from Metro all-time greats (Howard, Clint Mathis, Roberto Donadoni), to some of the world greats (Youri Djorkaeff, Lothar Matthaus, Donadoni again), to incredibly obscure (Wellington Sanchez).

Let's start with the two Metros were were not only backbones of the US squad in the early 90s, but were also club originals: Tony Meola and Tab Ramos. Meola backstopped the US in 1990 and 1994, and was a third-stringer in 2002. Ramos played in three straight cups from 1990 to 1998; he became the first current Metro to grace the world stage in that last tournament by coming on as a sub against Germany.

Ramos is one of only four players to take part in the World Cup while being current Metros; the others are Alexi Lalas, Marcelo Vega, and Clint Mathis. Lalas, also the former Metro GM, played in 1994 but sat on the bench as a Metro in 1998; he finally got back at Steve Sampson this week by firing him. Vega, the fat and useless slob, somehow got 45 minutes for Chile in their quarterfinal loss to Brazil in 1998. Mathis, of course, became the first Metro to score in the World Cup, doing so against South Korea in 2002. Unfortunately, his career went south from there.

Metro is still the only MLS team to feature a World Cup winner, and with three under their belt: Lothar Matthaus, Branco, and Youri Djorkaeff, it will be a while before other teams catch up. Mattahus played in five World Cups, a record for a field player, from 1982 to 1998, captaining Germany to the 1990 title, and holds the records for most games played (25). Branco played in three for Brazil from 1986 to 1994, taking home the crown on US soil, scoring on a blistering free kick against the Netherlands. Djorkaeff was a linchpin in France's championship in 1998, adding a goal on a penalty kick, and then, like the rest of the squad, disappointed in 2002. The three winners are joined by one runner-up in Roberto Donadoni, who finished third with Italy in 1990, missing a vital penalty kick in the semifinals, and second in 1994, when he lined up against Branco in the final as Italy again lost out on penalties.

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