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WORLD CUP: Yanks aren't the only locals

Twelve of the 23 players on the U.S. World Cup roster have local ties, and five of them are genuine homeboys. They're not the only Southern California-linked player players in South Africa.

Here are five more, from New Zealand and Honduras:

  • NEW ZEALAND

SIMON ELLIOTT

Club: Unattached

Position: Midfielder. Age: 36

Born: Wellington, New Zealand

Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand

College: Stanford

L.A. ties: Started his pro career with the Galaxy and spent nearly two months training with L.A. in preparation for the World Cup

Former pro clubs: L.A. Galaxy, Columbus Crew, Fulham (England), San Jose Earthquakes

Who is he? The best midfielder New Zealand has produced, a hard-working ballwinner with a touch of creativity.

Why is he here? He's among New Zealand's leaders and continues, even at his advanced age, to be hugely influential in the All Whites' midfield.

What should we expect? Elliott will anchor New Zealand's midfield, primarily from a defensive standpoint; he can't get forward the way he used to. The All Whites aren't going to go very far in South Africa, but they will fight from start to finish, and he'll set the tone.

Hmmm. Interesting: He competed in the annual World Gumboot Throwing Festival in Taihape, New Zealand -- the highlight of a festival celebrating all things to do with Wellington Boots -- during his youth.

TONY LOCHHEAD

Club: Wellington Phoenix (New Zealand)

Position: Defender. Age: 28

Born: Tauranga, New Zealand

Hometown: Tauranga, New Zealand

College: UC Santa Barbara

L.A. ties: Was an All-American at UC Santa Barbara, played in 2004 for Orange County Blue Star

Former pro clubs: New England Revolution

Who is he? Veteran left back who hit his stride in Australia's A League (with New Zealand's lone club in the league) after two years in MLS.

Why is he here? He's the All-Whites' first choice on the left flank, where his versatility and ability to get forward are quite vital.

What should we expect? A yeoman-like effort, and maybe a telling cross, as New Zealand plays three and goes home. If the All Whites surrender a penalty, it might be his doing.

Hmmm. Interesting: Lochhead was the first UCSB soccer star to win All-America honors, leading the Gauchos to the NCAA Division I final as a senior in 2004.

  • HONDURAS

AMADO GUEVARA

Club: Motagua (Honduras)

Position: Midfielder. Age: 34

Born: Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Hometown: Tegucigalpa, Honduras

College: None

L.A. ties: A costly acquistion for Chivas USA, which gave up a designated-player slot to get him. After four games, Preki, then Chivas' coach, dumped him.

Former pro clubs: Olimpia (Honduras), Real Valladolid (Spain), Toros Neza (Mexico), Zacatepec (Mexico), Saprissa (Sota Rica), MetroStars/New York Red Bulls, Chivas USA, Toronto FC

Who is he? Talismanic midfielder capable of amazing feats and exasperating tantrums. He was MLS's MVP in 2004, when he played for the MetroStars. Is in his fifth stint with Motagua.

Why is he here? Guevara is the most prominent figure in Honduran soccer, Los Catrachos' captain, all-time caps leader (with nearly 140) and No. 2 all-time scorer (with 29 goals).

What should we expect? He'll play a pivotal role in a Honduran attack that is blessed with talent, but perhaps not enough experience against top-level competition. If Honduras can pull off an upset or two, perhaps advance to the knockout stage, there's a good chance he'll be a big reason why.

Hmmm. Interesting: Guevara's brief spell with Chivas USA was disastrous. He arrived in poor shape, failed to exert himself to Preki's specifications in training and was red-carded after shoving a linesman. Preki allowed him to go on loan to Motagua, saying that he had “a vision of where the club is going and (Guevara is) not part of it.”

RAMON NUNEZ

Club: Olimpia (Honduras)

Position: Midfielder. Age: 24

Born: Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Hometown: Dallas

College: SMU

L.A. ties: Played 12 games with Chivas USA during the 2007 season.

Former pro clubs: Dallas Burn, Chivas USA, Puebla (Mexico), Cruz Azul (Mexico)

Who is he? Exquisitely skilled central midfielder who grew up in Texas and started his career in MLS.

Why is he here? He's cover for Los Catrachos' aging but legendary (at least home) midfielders. And he'll be an important figure in the next four-year cycle for Honduras.

What should we expect? He's an option when Coach Reinaldo Rueda needs more midfield skill, either off the bench or in place of Guevara or ailing Wilson Palacios.

Hmmm. Interesting: Nuñez has scored three goals in four years with Honduras' national team, all in a five-day span of World Cup qualifying in September 2008, two of them to carry Honduras to a 2-1 triumph over Canada in Montreal.

CARLOS PAVON

Club: Real Espana (Honduras)

Position: Forward. Age: 36

Born: El Progreso, Honduras

Hometown: El Progreso, Honduras

College: None

L.A. ties: Played for the Galaxy in 2007

Former pro clubs: Toluca (Mexico), San Luis (Mexico), Real Valladolid (Spain), UAT Correcaminos (Mexico), Necaxa (Mexico), Atletico Celaya (Mexico), Morelia (Mexico), Udinese (Italy), Napoli (Italy), Deportivo Cali (Colombia), Cruz Azul (Mexico), Comunicaciones (Honduras), L.A. Galaxy

Who is he? Well-traveled forward who has played in Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga but had limited success in MLS

Why is he here? He's a Honduran idol, and beyond the soccer field, and is his national team's all-time scoring leader, with 57 goals in 17 years.

What should we expect? Pavon will do his best to add to his goal total, likely as a starter, especially with David Suazo fighting to return from injury.

Hmmm. Interesting: Pavon had a fledgling music career but did not meet with success.