I’ve got about 30 or 40 people flying in and it’s a special moment. I’m very lucky it happens to be during the Send-Off Series where there’s an incredible buzz. My family’s in Florida and my kids are here. I’ve thought about it a lot and it always takes me back to all 99 caps that came before it.
My first game sticks out. My mom flew down to Birmingham, Alabama, for the game. She was nervous as heck, and I was nervous as heck. But, that was the start of it. I remember it like it was yesterday even though now it’s so far away.
There are so many little milestones in between. I think when you get to 100 that one moment is special but really it just encompasses a long, hard process.
Even when I became the starter I think I was only on 20-some odd caps. I wasn’t shooting for 100 at all; I was just trying to play well. But, it shows you what hard work can do when you get your head down and focus on the task. I’ve been to U-17 World Championships, U-20 World Championships, Pan-Am Games in 1999, the Olympics in 2000. Those were pivotal moments were I learned how to be a professional. You learn what it takes to work hard every day and never look for excuses.
I’ve tried to make consistency a priority. I can remember that word being bounced around in my brain when I was 20-years old. That was always job one and that means going to work every day, not missing trainings and doing everything I can to be on the field.
In the early days, I was number two to Kasey Keller. I owe him such a big chunk of this 100 caps and such a big part of my career as well. I watched what it was like for a big-time goalkeeper to conduct himself in the important moments in the locker room or in games. He looked after me and taught me so many things. When I went to England, Kasey was the first person I called every day for advice. He probably got sick of me but he didn’t let me know.
Kasey and Tony Meola were my idols. I had a poster of Tony in my room growing up and now consider him a dear friend. To be able to be in the 100-cap club with those goalkeepers is special.
My first roommate was Jeff Agoos; he was a guy who I watched on TV as well. Then all of a sudden I was his roommate with the National Team. He probably wasn’t happy about that because I was just this young kid but he was brilliant to me.
The player who I admire most is my best friend and captain Carlos Bocanegra. We were on the field together for the 2009 Confederations Cup when we shocked the world by beating Spain.
That expression gets tossed around a little bit but we weren’t supposed to beat them. If you play sports though, you always hope you can capture that one moment in time and that night we did. We put it all together, played our hearts out and played amazing. If nothing else happens in my career that semifinal would be something I look back on with the fondest memories.
I’ve been with clubs and this National Team when they have had great leaders. I saw how they conducted themselves on the tough days and when the going was good. When you have success and when you’re a leader you have to be mature about it and be accountable. I think it’s important to be a good teammate, a good person and have each others’ back on and off the field.
It’s more important to me to reach 100 caps before the World Cup. I don’t want the distraction. Friends have mentioned how amazing it would be to get it in the opening game of the World Cup, but I would like to get it out of the way. The World Cup isn’t about pageantry, it’s about business and that’s really important to me.
I’m entering my third World Cup. I’ve seen it and we’ve done it. I was there in 2006 to be a part of the group. In 2010, I was able to play, and we had some magical moments I will cherish. But, we’re back here four years later and we know what we have in front of us. We know what level we need to get to in order to beat these three teams and get out of the group. The butterflies are flying around and I’m excited again.