At long last, Captain America has returned to the field.
Following in the footsteps of U.S. national team teammates Tim Howard and Landon Donovan, USA captain Carlos Bocanegra made his return to game action Sunday, earning his first playing time in almost two months in Racing Santander's 0-0 draw with Segunda Division-leading Elche.
Bocanegra, who had not played since Feb. 2 and was left out of the national team altogether for the most recent World Cup qualifiers as a result, started, played all 90 minutes and was booked as Racing Santander continues its fight against relegation. The club sits in 21st place out of 22, level on points with Huesca, trailing Hercules by one and Real Murcia and Mirandes by two as the five clubs jockey for position while trying to avoid three relegation places.
For Bocanegra, who is on loan from Rangers until the end of the season, it was his 13th appearance with the Spanish club this season and marked another comeback for an American this weekend after Howard returned from broken bones in his back and Donovan returned from his hiatus on Saturday. Fabian Johnson also returned from a hip injury for Hoffenheim, while Steve Cherundolo made the Hannover bench after a three-month absence with a knee injury.
Bocanegra watched as Omar Gonzalez, Clarence Goodson and Matt Besler earned starts at center back for the USA against Costa Rica and Mexico, but U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann insisted that the 33-year-old's national team career -- during which he has amassed 110 caps and played in two World Cups -- was not coming to an abrupt end as long as he could find regular club playing time.