SAN JOSE -- Earthquakes stars Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson have a chance to show they belong in the World Cup this summer in Brazil.

The San Jose players were called to national duty Friday by coach Jurgen Klinsmann as the Americans open camp to prepare for one of the world's biggest sporting events.

"Anytime you get called up it is such a true honor," Wondolowski said Friday. "I think any opportunity I get could be my last one. I want to enjoy it but at the same time put everything I absolutely have into it."

The team will train in Carson for a week starting Saturday. Then 23 of the players will spend two weeks in Sao Paulo to get familiar with the hotel and training facility the team will use during the World Cup. The Americans start the season Feb. 1 with an exhibition against South Korea at the StubHub Center.

The United States opens the World Cup on June 16 against Ghana. It also faces Portugal and Germany in Group G, considered one of the tournament's toughest groupings. Goodson, 31, isn't intimidated by the challenge.

"When you look at each game individually you can't say any one of those games is overwhelming," he said. "It's when you group all those teams together people make a big fuss about it. If we were playing any one of those teams in a one-off the country has to like our chances. That's what it is in a World Cup -- it's a one-off. You have to give everything you have for one game."

The Quakes' defender also said some fans forget how good the United States is.

"They wouldn't call it the 'Group of Death' if we weren't in there," he said.


Advertisement

Klinsmann called on 26 players, all but one from Major League Soccer, whose season starts in March. MLS players don't report to camp until February.

"This gives me a great jump start," said Wondolowski, a Concord-De La Sale alum. "You spend 30 days doing absolutely the most for an athlete."

Wondolowski, 30, has six goals in 17 U.S. appearances. He is considered a longshot to make the team because of the logjam at the forward position. But the Danville native hopes to show that he "can play at this level and belong here.

"I just have to continue doing what I do." Wondolowski said. "I can't do more than what I can do, because when I try to do that, that's when I don't play as well as I can."

Wondolowski played the second half of last season with a broken right big toe but said he is fine after an offseason rest.

"I'm a pretty simple player but have to do the simple things to perfection," he said of impressing national team coaches. "I have to continue to do the things off the ball as well. Coach Klinsmann does a great job recognizing that."

Goodson is trying to make his second consecutive World Cup team as a center back. He has appeared 44 times for the United States.

"Certainly things are amped up," he said of the competition to make the squad. "At the same time, Jurgen is going to look to some leaders and guys who have been there before. You can't have all new guys."

Goodson, who came to San Jose in August after playing in Europe for five years, helped stabilized the Quakes' backline with his leadership. But he appreciates he must earn his place with the national team.

"The approach is always the same when you step into a national team camp," Goodson said. "That is to be fully focused to give everything that you have. It's not a god-given right to be there. You have to prove that you deserve to be there day in and day out."

Like Wondolowski, Goodson expects a month of tough training will give him an advantage when he joins San Jose's pre-season camp in February. The tall defender rested after the season ended to recover from some small injuries. But Goodson has been training for two months in hopes of earning the national team call up.

"The off season is very long," he said of the three-month break. "It's something I've had to adjust to."

Goodson said too much time off makes it difficult to return to training.

"You have to keep going because the body is used to that," he added. "If you don't train it's difficult to sleep at night.

It is difficult to sit and do nothing."

Without naming any players, Klinsmann said in a statement that he is looking for "two or three or four guys to break into the inner circle. This is the opportunity now. Prove it in the next four weeks."

Perhaps the most important part of the camp is the players' time in Sao Paulo.

"It means to connect ourselves with Brazil," Klinsmann said. "To get a real good feeling how it is going to be in June."

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.