Vets key to youth development 

August, 19, 2010

Within six weeks of the U.S. team's elimination from the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Claudio Reyna, Eddie Pope and Brian McBride announced their respective retirements from the international game.

At the time, Reyna and Pope were 32 years old. McBride was 34. They'd been teammates on three World Cup squads and had amassed 289 caps among them. And they knew that, because four years is an eternity in soccer, they had little chance of sticking with the team though 2010.

Fast forward to today. Coming out of this summer's tournament in South Africa, starting defenders Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo and Jay DeMerit are all 31. None of the three have officially called it a national team career, but can anyone really expect them to be kicking around, at age 35, when Brazil 2014 gets underway?

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.