- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The extraordinary journey of Clyde Simms has taken another amazing turn.

The D.C. United midfielder, who came out of oblivion earlier this year to earn a starting role with the Major League Soccer champion, was named to the U.S. team’s 19-man roster this week for an exhibition game against England at Soldier Field in Chicago on May 28.

‘I was very surprised to get the call,’ Simms said. ‘I also feel very lucky. I was just starting to get comfortable with D.C. United and the style of play in MLS and then I get this call from the U.S. team. It’s certainly keeping me on my toes.’

Simms’ meteoric journey to the higher echelons of the game began in January when he was invited to the U.S. team’s training camp with a group of minor league players during the labor dispute between the U.S. team’s players and U.S. Soccer. When the lockout was resolved the replacements went home except for Simms, who had caught American coach Bruce Arena’s eye.

When Arena, the wise sage of American soccer, spots a player others take note, and D.C. United ‘ Arena’s old club ‘ quickly purchased Simms’ rights from the A-League’s Richmond Kickers.

Simms has made four starts in seven league games for United and seems to have won the starting role as one of the club’s defensive central midfielders. Still, the idea of a player who has barely dipped his toes into top-level soccer suddenly being summoned by the national team is quite startling.

‘Clyde has done a good job for us and Bruce [Arena] watches that,’ United president Kevin Payne said. ‘Bruce is a big believer in guys that play well for their club team. Clyde is a good athlete, he’s honest, he’s smart and I just think he’s going to get better and better.’

Simms likely will be a reserve for the American team, which is preparing for crucial World Cup qualifying games against Costa Rica and Panama next month. If the former East Carolina star gets playing time in the exhibition, he will be going up against an England team loaded with seasoned Premier League stars, such as Arsenal’s Sol Campbell and Manchester United’s Alan Smith, before a crowd of more than 40,000.

‘For the last couple of weeks and months he has established himself in our team,’ United coach Peter Nowak said. ‘This is what we are looking for from our guys, this honest work. Like [midfielder] Brian Carroll he does the dirty job. Clyde puts himself in a good spot and he links the play with [forwards] Jaime Moreno and Christian Gomez.’

At the end of his senior year of college in 2003, Simms was on crutches with an MCL strain and wasn’t drafted by the A-League or MLS. His coach then sent videos to the Kickers, who gave him a chance.

Fate has been good to the Jamestown, N.C., native, but for now Simms must prepare to deal with the Kansas City Wizards, who arrive in town to take on United at RFK Stadium on Saturday.

Notes — Moreno and Ben Olsen were nursing injuries after yesterday’s practice. Moreno had an ice bag on his left knee while Olsen had a hamstring iced up.

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