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Big MLS influence on big CONCACAF matches

Feb 7, 2013, 11:41 AM EDT

Mexico's Hernandez fights for the ball with Jamaica's Taylor during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Mexico City

How ironic that Major League Soccer had such a big influence in shaping the early race for World Cup spots out of our part of the world.

Because men from the United States’ officially designated tier one league proved most beneficial – but not to the United States.

Two of Jurgen Klinsmann’s starters in yesterday’s 2-1 loss to Honduras were MLS men: center back Omar Gonzalez and attacker Eddie Johnson. (For accuracy’s sake, seven of the 11 did start their careers in MLS.)

Meanwhile, most of the starring roles for Honduras were MLS men, or were so recently. Midfielder Roger Espinoza, probably the best man on the field Wednesday, just left Sporting Kansas City for Wigan Athletic in the English Premier League.

Oscar Boniek Garcia, who helped arrange the home team’s game-winner, is a Houston Dynamo man. Big center back Victor Bernardez may have been Major League Soccer’s top defender last year, playing for San Jose.

But the big MLS influence stretched way beyond San Pedro Sula. In Mexico, a couple of men under MLS contract helped manufacture the region’s real shocker, as Jamaica stunned Mexico in a scoreless draw at typically impenetrable fortress Azteca.

Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts (Portland Timbers), defender Jermaine Taylor (pictured Wednesday, plays for Houston Dynamo) and forward Ryan Johnson (Portland) all started for the Reggae Boyz. Well done, Boyz.

In Panama, FC Dallas striker and recently released FCD defender Carlos Rodriguez were in the lineup as the Central Americans drew with Costa Rica, 2-2. On the other side, Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio hit one of the goals for the Ticos.

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