May 23, 2013
Cahill called in for Australia's WCQs
As expected, Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill on Thursday was selected to the Australian National team for three vital World Cup qualifiers.
|It's official. Tim Cahill will play for Australia in June.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Cahill was among 26 players called into camp.
His call-up puts into jeopardy his participation in the Red Bulls' June 1 home game against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Aussies (1-1-3, six points), who are in third place in Asian Group B, visit first-place Japan (4-1-1, 13), which is on the verge of clinching a World Cup berth, on June 4. They host second-place Jordan (2-3-1, seven) in a vital encounter on June 11 and welcome fifth- and last-place Iraq (1-2-2, five) on June 18.
No decision has been made on whether Cahill will be allowed to join the team, but Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said on Tuesday that he would not stand in the way of the veteran midfielder missing that match. The Red Bulls host the Columbus Crew on Sunday.
Petke said on Tuesday that he was "90 percent sure," that Cahill won't be with the Red Bulls.
"I wouldn't put a 100 percent on it," he added during his weekly conference call with the team's media. "There are two qualifiers coming up, the first one being aright after that game, on the other side of the world. And it's a qualifier that will decide Australia's fate for the World Cup. So obviously, it's a very important match."
The two top teams in each group will qualify for Brazil 2014. The best third-place side will meet the fifth-place team from South America in a special home-and-home playoff in November.
Those three June games would close out Australia's qualifying schedule in Asia.
Cahill, who has scored 27 times in 61 international matches, has been a vital component in the Red Bulls's road to the Eastern Conference lead with a 7-4-3 record and 24 points. He has played several positions, played extremely well on both sides of the ball while being a team leader. He also has scored four goals in the past five matches, including the game-winner a minute into stoppage time in the 1-0 home victory over the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
"All that Tim has done for us, played through pain for us and it has been huge for us, it would be very selfish of me to -- it's not just me making the final decision, it's collaborative -- from my opinion, it would be selfish of us to say, 'You must be at that game,' and to risk him for this huge match coming up. Having said that, I wouldn't put 100 percent on it that he's not going to be there."
Petke would make the decision along with sporting director Andy Roxburgh and possibly other members of the club's front office.