It must be a thrilling experience to make it to the senior level of your national team. Putting on the jersey with your countries name on the front and your name on the back. When it’s on your back, you can officially consider yourself one of the best that your country has to offer the game of soccer.
It’s repeating the process that becomes the tough part.
For every Landon Donovan (119 caps), there’s an Otto Decker (one cap). For every Jeff Agoos (134 caps), there’s a Bob O’Leary (one cap. For every Paul Caligiuri (110 caps), there’s a Marko Vuckovic (one cap).
You get the idea.
This is my time to sing the praises of some of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s unsung one-cap wonders. They may have only donned the Red, White and Blue on one occasion, but from there, they went on to great things. Here’s five of them.
Bruce Arena, 1973
Yes, the former head coach of the U.S. National Team wore the jersey for his country. Coming on as a second half substitute for Bob Rigby in a 2-0 loss to Israel, Arena was a goalkeeper during his playing days.
Obviously, we know what Arena was able to accomplish after he hung up the boots. Quickly transitioning into coaching, Arena was head coach at Virginia five years after he won the cap and stayed there for 17 seasons. Three years after that, he was in charge of the national team and took them to new heights.
Currently, Arena is in charge of the Los Angeles Galaxy and has helped them qualify for the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Curt Onalfo, 1988
A man linked closely with Arena is the Brazilian-born Curt Onalfo. The assistant with the national team was a star at the youth levels for USA, but never really got his senior career going and won his only cap at the top level against Costa Rica.
The match was a 1-0 win, but Onalfo, who racked up over 100 caps at the lower levels of the team, wasn’t able to impress enough to get on the field more than that one time.
After his playing career was over, Onalfo, like Arena, quickly jumped into coaching and spent four seasons with the USMNT under Arena. In 2007 he was selected as the head coach of the Kansas City Wizards and was let go after two years of mixed results.
Ted Chronopoulos, 1997
A player with a very successful run in Major League Soccer, Chronopoulos was a mainstay in the New England Revolution lineup after spending three seasons in Greece playing with Panionios.
Upon entering MLS in the inaugural draft in 1996, Chronopoulos was an up-and-coming player with plenty of national team potential. Unfortunately, he was only able to see the field for the USMNT one time in 1997 when he came on for Jeff Agoos in a 2-1 win over Israel.
Now the VP of Soccer Operations at Los Angeles Football Club Chelsea, Chronopoulos remains in the sport and was an assistant with the USL side Charlston Battery in 2005, a team he played for from 2003-2005.
Ian Feuer, 1992
A second goalkeeper on the list, Feuer enjoyed a long and well-traveled playing career with various clubs both across the pond and in the United States with Major League Soccer.
Coming in at in impressive 6’7”, Feuer was a force to be reckoned with between the sticks and has gone down as the second tallest player in the history of the English Premier League, where he spent multiple seasons.
Playing for such clubs as West Ham United, Peterborough, and Cardiff in England, Feuer spent much of his time on the bench in England, except for his three year spell with Luton Town where he made 97 appearances.
His lone cap for the United States came in 1992 when he came on for Mark Dodd in the 71st minute of a loss to Morocco. Most of his early career he was seen as a backup to Brad Friedel.
William “Bill” Lehman, 1934
Probably the most important of the one-cap appearances was Lehman’s. Playing in a match against Mexico that would ultimately determine the United States' World Cup prospects, Lehman played solidly in defense as his team went on to win 4-2. The win secured the team their second ever qualification for the World Cup and their last until 1950.
Born in St. Louis in 1901, Lehman played his entire professional career in the midwest city for Stix, Baer and Fuller F.C., St. Louis Central Breweries F.C. and St. Louis Shamrocks.
Despite the impressive debut, he wasn’t able to hold down his World Cup place and was soon replaced ahead of the tournament.
Shane Evans is an Associate Editor of Goal.com.
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