International Notebook: Timbers players criss-crossing the map with national teams
With MLS play on hold while countries around the globe participate in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, tournaments, and friendies, it’s time to check in with five Timbers, who were called to represent their respective countries.
Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson (New Zealand), defender Futty Danso (The Gambia), midfielder Lovel Palmer (Jamaica), defender Steve Purdy (El Salvador) and defender/midfielder Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica) have all joined their respective national teams for international friendlies and crucial WCQ matches.
WATCH: Gleeson with great save at 1:26 mark
Gleeson, who recently helped New Zealand’s U-23 National Team qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, earned his second and third All Whites caps over the weekend, seeing action in a special Oceania Football Confederation Nations Cup wins over both Fiji (1-0) and Papua New Guinea (PNG) (2-1). This was Gleeson's second call-up to the All Whites senior national team.
Gleeson was called upon in the 53rd minute of New Zealand’s opening Nations Cup match with Fiji after starting keeper Mark Paston suffered a head injury. The Timbers netminder then started the All Whites’ next match, making three saves while eyeing a clean sheet until an 88th-minute penalty kick was converted by PNG forward Neil Hans.
New Zealand is in first place in the Nations Cup Group B with six points, having already qualified for the next round. They finish Group B play with a match against the Solomon Islands, led by former second division Timbers forward Benjamin Totori, on June 6.
Danso, a part of The Gambia’s national team since 2010, earned his sixth cap for the Scorpions, going the full 90 minutes in the team’s opening World Cup qualifying match of 2012, a 1-1 draw with Morocco on June 2. It was the first goal The Gambia had ever scored against the Lions of the Atlas. Danso almost scored off a corner kick late in the second half but as AllAfrica.com put it, “the ball agonizingly went inches wide for a goal kick.”
The Gambia is tied with Morocco for second in Africa’s World Cup qualifying Group C, which includes African soccer power Côte d'Ivoire and the Scorpions’ next opponent Tanzania. Danso will remain in Africa when The Gambia take on Tanzania on June 10. He’ll also be in the mix for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Algeria on June 16.
Palmer has 19 international caps to his credit though did not feature for the Reggae Boyz in a recent home-and-home series of friendly matches with Panama. Panama beat Jamaica 2-1 last Friday.
Purdy helped El Salvador beat Moldova 2-0 in a friendly on May 26 before playing in front of 44,000 people in a 3-0 defeat against Honduras on June 2 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
Having completed their extended training camp, Purdy and El Salvador begin the third round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Costa Rica in San José, Costa Rica on Friday, June 8. El Salvador will then play host to Mexico on Tuesday, June 12 in San Salvador. El Gráfico did a feature story on Purdy earlier (SPANISH).
Waiting for Purdy in Costa Rica will be his Timbers teammate Rodney Wallace, who came on as a 63rd-minute sub for the Costa Rica National Team in the Ticos’ 1-0 loss to Guatemala in an international friendly on June 1. He now has six international caps and has scored two goals since making his debut for Costa Rica on Sept. 2, 2011.
Wallace figures to be a key figure for Costa Rica in the team’s 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador on Friday, June 8, and Guyana on Tuesday, June 12.