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Frankie Hejduk: USA’s working class hero

Frankie Hejduk ( 

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It has been a special past few months for Frankie Hejduk.

After helping lead the Columbus Crew to the club's first MLS Cup title last November, Hejduk returned to Crew Stadium to start in the U.S. national team's 2-0 World Cup qualifying win against Mexico in February. During that time, he has only added to his reputation as a working-class soccer hero, a player who fights to the end with passion and courage.

The folks at have taken notice of this and wrote a good feature on Hejduk. The story includes an interview with Hejduk about his desire to make the U.S. 2010 World Cup roster, as well as about the U.S. team's upcoming qualifier vs. El Salvador.

What do you think of Hejduk's chances of making the 2010 World Cup team? See him as one of those veteran players ever squad needs? Think Bob Bradley will be better off taking Steve Cherundolo and Marvell Wynne? Still amazed to see Hejduk playing at such a high level at his age?

Share your thoughts on Hejduke's 2010 World Cup chances and his recent renaissance in the comments section below.

Share your thoughts below.


  1. “Frankie is the Rocky Balboa of U.S. Soccer. Never count him out.”

    Beautifully and aptly stated (although sometimes I’ve playfully referred to Frankie as the Spicoli of US Soccer). And yes Coconutz, Frankie is an awesome surfer.

  2. Ives,

    Pointing out that he had a bad game doesn’t make you a part of the “Hejduk is awful” crowd. I was arguing that you were “praying for Marvell Wynne to get more minutes” does. Like I said, maybe I’m reading too much into that statement, but I thought it was safe to assume that meant that Hejduk had fallen to at least third-choice (behind Wynne and Cherundolo). If that wasn’t the intent of your statement, I stand corrected–I’m not trying to put words in your mouth.

  3. If we could only get half of the guys on the USMNT to play with the heart of Frankie, we’d be shoe-ins for the next holders of the World Cup…but as it is, we’ve got Lando who completely disappears in games (or just doesn’t feel like playing) and Eddie “I need a close-up before I can play” Johnson, and Eddie “I can cross with my left foot so I’m on the same level as Becks, right” Lewis. Whether or not Frankie starts in South Africa, he definitely deserves the spot.

  4. frankie has to make it to 2010 (praying)

    cherundalo is better but frankie can step up big time,I love his passion and courage to death. if he started everygame for us I think there isnt a doubt in my mind he would be captiain

  5. Love Frankies hustle but can do with out the reeckless tackles. This was a nice right up and I think if Frankie is playing well he has a chance to make South Africa. Unfortunately though his age is against him and there will probably be some one with more skill that gets the spot.

  6. Just keep a steady supply of espresso handy, and the guy will keep going and going…. maybe we should start calling him the Bunny, as in the Energizer Bunny…?

    In all seriousness, I love the guy’s energy and heart, hell I’ve got a Hejduk MNT jersey. But Frankie is notably limited skill-wise. Cherundolo is limited too, in that he’s too darn small. Wynne has talent but is still too raw — he relies too much on his athleticism to bail himself out of mistakes. Simek and Spector are the answer at RB if they can just stay healthy….

  7. I’d be surprised to see Dr. Hejduk on the team, but I would absolutely support it. Frankie should have worn the arm band for Mexico. He brings so much leadership and inspiration to the Nats. He’s the Rudy of U.S. Soccer and I would love to see him on the roster…

  8. Agree with Isaac.

    Additionally for me, Frankie’s age is a none issue. If the dude can still run the flank, distribute out of the back, and keep strikers away from goal, then I want him on the squad.

    Now Frankie making the 2014 squad, that would be questionable.

  9. Mike, Hejduk had a bad game against Trinidad. It happens. I don’t see how pointing that out makes me a member of the “Hejduk is awful” crowd. The fact is that he is limited, but still gives you enough to be a solid starter. Would it be nice if he had more skill? Sure, it would be great if he were Dani Alves, but he’s not. When he’s on, he’s still productive, as we saw against Mexico.

    I actually think his T&T game helped him get to where he got against Mexico. Instead of wasting possession with terrible crosses, Hejduk was careful to keep possession and look for passing outlets.

    Until Wynne is ready, or Simek or Spector show they can stay healthy, Hejduk is a solid option for 2010 unless he has a dramatic drop in form.

  10. Hejduk shows up.

    Thats all you need to know about him.

    No matter what the team, he shows up.

    He doesn’t always show up well, but neither does Donovan.

    He shows up when you need him.

    He doesn’t always do what you need him to do, but he’s there.

    Sometimes just him being there is enough.

    It’s that kind of player the U.S. needs in 2010.

  11. I would be the first one to say hells yes to frankie for 2010, but for me Marvell Wynne is one of the most athletically gifted and talented prospects we have. His recovery speed is literally world class, and what he brings to the U.S. counter attack is something we have never had before.

    If only he could serve a cross and improve his positioning then he has enough natural talent to do the rest i think, he would be better than dolo or hejduk.

    im for wynee in 2010, but somebody needs to get him on a training regiment asap

  12. Marvell Wynne needs to start getting minutes in Nats games. If he does and shows adequately, then he will replace FH. Why? They’re basically the same player: Speed, Guts, horrible crosses. But MW is younger.

  13. After the USA’s loss at T&T:

    IVES GALARCEP: “Frankie Hejduk (3). You love his hustle but hate his lack of skill. It was his poor pass that led to the breakout and eventual Russell Latapy goal. He mis-hit crosses and turned the ball over repeatedly. The performance makes you pray for Marvell Wynne to start getting minutes.”

    I’m not trying to be a jerk. I just remember the commentary from the last US game when Ives told all the “Frankie is awful” people to relax. There was a time, even if it was brief, when Ives himself seemed a part of that group. Maybe I’m overanalyzing the last sentence of that quotation…

    I don’t like that Hejduk tackles recklessly (with two feet). I don’t like that Hejduk can’t cross the ball. I don’t like Hejduk’s first touch. I don’t like that Hejduk gives away free kicks in dangerous positions. And I don’t like that Frankie Hejduk injured himself in the Mexico game by sliding in two seconds too late. Maybe some (myself included) have been too critical at times, but his “heart” and “leadership” don’t nullify all of his shortcomings. I don’t think I should apologize for taking this position.

  14. ‘dolo has heart too. frankie is great in his own way, but ‘dolo is hands-down a better overall player. a healthy ‘dolo starts in front of frankie without a doubt in the next w.c. frankie can back him up and be an awsome locker room guy.

  15. Not to diminish the value of Frankie (via my previous post) w/ respect to his skill, but in regard to the value of his “heart” and “motivation” that some people seem to negate, please direct your attention to last night’s AMC movie “Rudy”.

    Think Rudy was helpful to that Notre Dame team in ’75???

    Damn right he was.

  16. The fact that Frankie has a legit shot at making a World Cup 12 years after his first is really remarkable.

    Just looked at the 1998 roster–the only guys even still playing are Keller, Freidel, McBride and Frankie. Just two outfield players are still playing professionally and Frankie has a good shot at making the World Cup roster.

    I know sometimes his technical ability can be maddening, but longevity counts for a lot. First ballot HOF, no question.

  17. Another thought on Frankie. He is one of the few players who always shows up. You know what you’ll get out of him and he’ll produce. In WC98 he was one of the few (only?) players that wasn’t a disappointment. Every time we play Mexico, he’s one of the best players on the field. We need that.

    Of course, at his age his form could change drastically over the next year and a half. So I’ll hold judgement until then. But right now, I’ll take him in our squad.

  18. I think any good squad combines different types of players. You need the skillful players that create and have more freedom. And you need the guys with heart that will lead and inspire. Frankie obviously falls into this category and is one of the more important members in this area. For those DC fans, notice what happened when Olsen was lost. He provided much more than whatever skill level he had. He was the heart behind the team and DC lacked heart last year.

    As I said, every lineup needs one or two guys like this. The more skill they have, the better. But you must have them on the squad.

  19. Hejduk was, and still remains, my favorite and most respected US National team player.

    ANY time this guy gets on the pitch for the Nats he always plays tremendously. His work ethic, his ability to get up and down the pitch, play in great crosses, get stuck in on challenges, frustrate the other team (see: Asst. Mexican National Team slap Hejduk after the last meeting) and arguably most importantly, go up against any opposing player.

    If fit come 2010, there is NO reason why he should not be brought along.

    I would defend him against his haters at all costs.

    You’re the man, Frankie.

  20. Frankie’s should be selected first as the 23rd player on the roster. In fact, his number should be 23. Bob should pick his 22 players and then slot in Frankie at 23rd. Dude can play almost anywhere, you never have to worry about his heart and he’s a great lockeroom guy.

  21. Frankie was huge in the Mexico game. If he can stay in great shape (which it sounds like he always does) and can remain unhurt, I think he’s the man at the position right now.

  22. “We need more than heart and being able to run around for 90 minutes.

    Posted by: Kyle | March 03, 2009 at 01:52 PM”

    Wrong. Exhibit A: Eddie Johnson. Promising skills, young, full of potential…ZERO heart.

  23. Frankie is awesome. Every team should have a surfer who plays with enthuasim and committment for 90 minutes every time on the field. I will always take his heart and running around. I know it will pain many to hear this, but I am fine with whatever Coach Bradley wants to do with Frankie.

  24. if he hadn’t been hurt in ’06 he would have started in the back instead of eddie lewis and maybe the game against the czech republic would have gone differently. i don’t know if he will be good enough for 2010, but he’s been playing great recently…

  25. “We need more than heart and being able to run around for 90 minutes.

    Posted by: Kyle | March 03, 2009 at 01:52 PM”

    Far too often it is the heart from some that is missing though.

  26. Frankie is a lock for SA. It’s not all about the glamor players. He does a lot of hard work, and never slows down.

  27. Last year, Frankie and Columbus Crew played Chivas USA in Cancer benefit game during preseason.

    After the game, one of the Union Ultras called out Frankie while he was autographing and kept harping on his age and play. All in fun, no vulgarities. There were cancer kids present.

    This Ultra just went off on him about his age and when Frankie looked back at the Ultras, he seemed kind of hurt. We all felt kind of bad for Frankie ’cause he was hurt at the time. We thought he’d dish it back. He looked sad, to say the least. Needless to say, the Ultra felt guilty.

    I wonder if that had anything to do with his sensational 2008? Probably not, but I sure as sh*t ain’t doubting Hejduk again. WC 2010? Why not?

    If Paco Ramirez ever shows his face at the HDC, he’s got a Rick James style face tap coming to him.

    Unity! (waving the ring)

  28. You must consider that he still has some stick that Heath and Dolo do not. He could replace either if they decline.

  29. Frankie will go in 2010 unless he has a leg amputated. BB still needs a solid veteran in the locker room who won’t be overwhelmed by the circumstances, and who everyone on the team likes. Plus, it’ll be a mulligan for missing out in ’06 when he blew out his knee. He might not start; he might not even play. Put he’ll be on that roster. And he’ll definitely be there ahead of Wynne.

  30. He played in the midfield? Not the best credibility, but nice article.

    “In the USA team, Landon Donovan usually gets the plaudits for his elegance and creativity, DaMarcus Beasley for his goals, speed and improvisation on the flank, goalkeeper Tim Howard for his parsimony between the posts. Hejduk, the workhorse tasked with carrying the unfashionable business in midfield”

  31. We need him for 2010. Marvell Wynne is great and all and I could see him going as well(some how, I dont know) but I think Hejduk is higher up on the chart. Hejduk brings the ferocity and fearlessness against countries like Italy and Germany, which is what we were missing( Save for Clint Dempsey) in 2006. He didn’t let anything get past him the whole night except when I think he took a knock late on. Cant we use Hejduk as a left back? We did for a little while didn’t we?

  32. Woohoo Heyduk! His heart and desire are great for a team in the locker room, especially far away from home (South Africa). However, his touch and skill do not compare to Dolo. I think Heyduk is good enough and has enough experience to be a quality sub in 2010 for Dolo. He won’t get rattled. He has been there a few times before. His experience puts him ahead of Wynne for 2010. In a perfect world, bradley brings all 3. If push comes to shove, dolo and heyduk go. Spector and pearce will go on the left. Califf will be the sub in the middle after gooch and boca.

  33. Frankie is and has been a great player for the NT for a long time. You know that everytime he steps on the field, he will give everything he’s got, the whole game through. His energy and commitment are an inspiration to the entire team and that’s a great benefit to the team. His experience as well would help in the WC.

    Unfortunately, the factor against him is age. BB knows what Frankie will provide, so then it all depends on what the other guys could bring. Can Simek, Spector and Wynne stay healthy? Can any or all of them develop into more effective players than Frankie?

    IMHO, I think Hejduk brings so much to the table when it comes to being a veteran leader, as well as a solid backup if needed, that at this time he should go.


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