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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 3, 2006

Twellman disappointed he was left off World Cup team

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Major League Soccer's MVP had two choices after his dream of playing in the World Cup was shattered: Taylor Twellman could mope or move on. "He could stick his head between his legs or he could stand up and get on with it," New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol said Wednesday, "and this morning he stood up and got on with it." Disappointed that he wasn't chosen and drenched by rain during Wednesday's practice, Twellman kept working hard for the team he'll probably spend the entire MLS season with. Barring an injury among the forwards selected for the U.S. roster Tuesday, Twellman won't go to Germany for soccer's biggest event. Midfielder Clint Dempsey was the only Revolution player chosen by coach Bruce Arena and will play his last MLS game Saturday before starting practice with the U.S. team on May 10 in Cary, N.C. "The main thing is just to focus on what you've got to do and not get sidetracked by all the stuff going around it," Dempsey said. "The most important thing for me is being on the field with good players and playing really competitive games." Twellman, midfielders Steve Ralston and Pat Noonan and goalkeeper Matt Reis will remain with the Revolution after missing the roster and being picked as alternates. Arena said Twellman "easily could have been on the roster." "He was certainly among the group of players that were, as we went through the process, was in, and then out," the coach said. Arena decided to select Brian McBride, Josh Wolff, Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching. "We looked at our overall roster and tried to find the right balance and find the right combination of players that would allow us to play a certain style against certain opponents," Arena said. "And in the end, the 23 we selected were the right ones. There's no question in my mind that Taylor could have been included in that group. There was such a fine line, there's not one fact that made a difference." Twellman declined to comment after practice. "Obviously, he's going to be disappointed. There's no doubt," Nicol said, "but he's a good pro and the best thing for him to do now is to score goals for us." Twellman, who attended the University of Maryland, led MLS in scoring as a rookie with New England in 2002. He tied for the lead in goals in 2003 then led the league last year with 17 goals and won the MVP award. New England went to the MLS title game but lost to Los Angeles 1-0. "It's unfortunate for Taylor. He really [worked hard] the last couple of years," Reis said. "If Ching does great in the World Cup then everybody says, 'Hey, good decision.' If he doesn't, then everybody can say, 'Oh, you probably should have taken Taylor.'" Twellman last played for the U.S. team on March 22 in a 4-1 loss at Germany in Hamburg. He had three goals in a 5-0 win in January against a weak Norway team. Reis didn't expect to beat out any of the goalkeepers chosen: Kasey Keller, Tim Howard and Marcus Hahnemann. All are playing in Europe and have more experience against top competition. "I'm happy to be in the national team picture," Reis said. "Two years ago, I wasn't even close." Arena said injuries hurt the chances of Ralston and Noonan. "I would have loved to have had them on this roster," Arena said. "There was such a fine line among these players. It's difficult to say no to some of them." Ralston returned to practice for the first time Wednesday after a hamstring injury. "Obviously, I'm disappointed I'm not in the 23 but I'm an alternate and the last World Cup two alternates went, so there's still a possibility," he said. One alternate was added Wednesday among the defenders, when Chris Albright replaced Frankie Hejduk, who tore a knee ligament. For Nicol, having five of his players among the 36 chosen for roster and alternate spots showed the talent on his team is recognized even though he'd have to get along without anyone who goes to Germany. "It's great that we have so many guys involved, which clearly shows we have some good players," he said, "but it also brings its complications as well and I think both the players and the team as a whole dealt with that pretty well."