Logan Pause is starting to get antsy, looking about as comfortable as if he was taking on the Honduras national team 1 vs 11.
Actually, he might prefer that.
Instead he’s engulfed by a bevy of video cameras, still cameras and three print reporters. It’s a situation he’s not accustomed to; Pause is rarely the object of attention when playing defensive midfielder for the Chicago Fire.
Even though he’s back in the Chicago area and standing on the Toyota Park sod, he’s on a bigger stage for at least a few more days. It’s likely Pause will again start for the United States when it takes on Honduras on Thursday night (6 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel, TeleFutura) at Soldier Field in the Gold Cup semifinals.
For the past few weeks Pause, 27, has taken time off from his club to play for his country, and though his answers are as defensive as his play on the field, it’s clear he knows how special – and fleeting – the opportunity is.
“The highlight is, honestly, to represent your country and to be out here and helping contribute,” Pause said after practice Tuesday. “Obviously, getting my first cap is something special, but we’re here to win this tournament. That’s all behind, and we’re looking forward to Thursday night’s game.”
“Logan’s been a real solid player for the Fire, somebody who does a strong job in the middle of the field every game,” added U.S. coach Bob Bradley, “and I think he’s been able to help our national team with the same type of effort.”
Translation: Everyone knows Bradley brought his “B” team for this tournament, auditioning players for call-ups for this fall’s remaining World Cup qualifiers and the big event in South Africa next June. There are probably only a couple of spots still open. Pause, who earned his first national-team cap in this Gold Cup, probably won’t make the cut again before June unless there are a few injuries.
If you go to ussoccer.com, Pause still isn’t among the 54 listed in the national-team player pool. So what?
“It’s been unbelievable,” Pause said. “I’m fortunate and grateful. It’s an honor and a privilege anytime you get to put on the jersey that represents your country. So I’m just happy to help contribute.”
He has contributed, starting with an assist in that first game, a 4-0 win over Grenada. But offense is not Pause’s role, a fact that might frustrate fans. Since joining the Fire in 2003, the North Carolina graduate has just 1 goal and 7 assists in 160 games.
“If you do the math, they come once every seven years, I guess,” Pause joked about his scoring ability.
That’s OK. He doesn’t have to score to contribute, and his teammates and coaches understand that. He’s comfortable with that, and with the opportunity he’s been given.
“You dream as a kid to represent your country and to play in front of the biggest stage,” Pause said, “and that’s what we’re doing now.”
By Orrin Schwarz
July 21, 2009