[WORLD CUP 2014 QUALIFYING] MLS players have scattered across the Americas and Caribbean for World Cup 2014 qualifying duty. Alejandro Moreno and Marco Pappa hope to lead Venezuela and Guatemala, respectively, to the finals for the first time. Diego Chara hopes his call-up will be the first of many for MLS's large Colombian contingent. Steward Ceus' selection to play for Haiti again is a chance to discover the homeland of his parents. While Ashtone Morgan's first call-up is a chance to gain experience with Canada's national team.
DIEGO CHARA. The Portland Timbers midfielder has only earned one cap for Colombia, but he wasn't surprised to get the call for Tuesday's World Cup 2014 qualifier against Bolivia. He just wished more MLS Colombians get a shot to play for the Cafeteros in the future. "It’s very important for all the Colombian teammates who reside here in MLS, and I hope I’m not the only one," he told mlssoccer.com. "I hope they’ll be looking at this league more seriously, and they’ll realize there are good players and a high level of play.” The last Colombian to get a national team callup was Seattle's Fredy Montero two years ago.
STEWARD CEUS. Born and raised in the New York suburb of West Haverstraw, home to a large Haitian community, the Colorado Rapids backup keeper never traveled to Haiti, the home of both his parents, until being selected for Haiti's World Cup 2014 qualifier against the U.S. Virgin Islands in September. “I’ve wanted to go to Haiti my whole life,” Ceus told ColoradoRapids.com. “But there’s been a lot of stuff going on there where my parents felt it was unsafe to go. I’m so blessed for this opportunity to go and get a chance to go visit the country where my parents were raised and my ancestors are all from." Ceus, 24, started in Port of Prince and earned a 6-0 shutout. He's one of four MLS Haitians along with James Marcelin, Peterson Joseph and Jean Alexandre called up for upcoming matches against the U.S. Virgin Islands and Curacao.
ALEJANDRO MORENO. Fresh off reaching the semifinals of the Copa America for three first time, Venezuela takes aim at a bigger prize: qualification for the World Cup. La Vinotinto, the only South American team to never reach the finals, called up the Chivas USA striker for the third time this year. It opens World Cup 2014 qualifying Friday against Ecuador in Quito and then hosts Argentina in Puerto Cruz on Tuesday. The Argentina game will be a test of how far Venezuela has come. It has never even earned a point against Argentina, losing all 10 qualifiers by a margin of 34-6.
ASHTONE MORGAN. The Toronto FC left back is quietly having one of the best seasons of any homegrown player in MLS. He has his league debut in March and has played in 12 games (seven starts) for TFC. His work didn't go unnoticed and was named to Canada's 18-man roster for World Cup qualifying matches against St. Lucia Friday and Puerto Rico Tuesday. Coach Stephen Hart is high on the 20-year-old Morgan who grew up in Toronto, which will be the site of Tuesday's game against Puerto Rico. “He’s been playing consistently for TFC," said Hart. "and I thought it was a good time seeing that we need some sort of [depth] at that position to bring him in, give him the experience of being with the [national team] and seeing what we are about."
MARCO PAPPA. With two wins in its first two games, Guatemala has already opened up a three-point lead Concacaf's Group E, whose winner will face the USA, Jamaica and the Group F winner (Haiti or Antigua & Barbuda) next year in the semifinal round of World Cup 2014 qualifying. Guatemala, which faces St. Vincent & Grenadines Friday and Belize Tuesday, is aiming to qualify for the World Cup for the first time, and the 23-year-old Chicago Fire star says its a realistic goal. “This team has got what it takes to get to Brazil,” Pappa told fifa.com. “If we’re going to achieve that dream, we need to stick to the same approach and focus on our objectives without changing course. We can only do that if we stick together. There’s no other way.”