DALLAS — As the 2018 FIFA World Cup inches closer and closer, FC Dallas is preparing for its upcoming match against Sporting Kansas City in the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
However, one member of the team has experience with a nation in the field of 32 competing in Russia.
Reto Ziegler participated in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups with Switzerland. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Ziegler has made 35 appearances for the national team.
“It’s a fantastic feeling just to represent the country in a World Cup,” Ziegler told Pro Soccer USA Wednesday. “As a soccer player, it is the dream of each one. I’m really glad to have this opportunity twice. It’s difficult to describe it when you hear the national anthem and you stand in front of the world. It’s fantastic, it’s beautiful.”
In 2010, Ziegler played in all three group stage matches at left back. While the team failed to make it out of the group stage, the Swiss knocked off eventual champion and Euro 2008 winner Spain 1-0 in its first match. Playing with fellow MLS player Philippe Senderos on the backline, the Swiss held on and withstood 24 shots from the Spaniards. Gelson Fernandes tucked in a shot from close after a mad scramble for the ball and paved the way for Spain’s only defeat in the World Cup.
“It was a hard game for us. I think we don’t touch a lot of balls,” Ziegler said. “We were running and fighting but we just play with our weapons, and maybe that was the good tactic. After that, we lost against Chile 1-0, but it was really close. At this high level, small mistakes make the difference.”
2014 was different for Ziegler. He made the squad but did not play a single minute off the bench. Switzerland made it past the group stage but came up against finalist Argentina in a tough affair. Angel Di Maria scored late in extra time to push Argentina past the Swiss 1-0. While it was tough for Ziegler to be on the bench, he noted always being ready as an important trait during that time.
“Difference is, of course, you want to play,” Ziegler said. “I was happy to be with the team in 2014, I was ready. My goal was to be ready, and after it’s the decision of the coach if you are playing or not. Of course, it’s always better to play but important is to be with the team and be ready and I was in 2014.”
Ziegler said he still speaks to those on the national team. Although disappointed to not make the roster for 2018, he is excited to see what the team has against opponents such as Brazil, who the team will face Sunday.
“I spoke with Valon Behrami yesterday,” Ziegler said. “It will be his fourth World Cup. I just wished them good luck, and I miss them a lot. I was long time on the national team. Actually, they changed the coach and he didn’t call me, but this is the life.”
The Swiss team is much like the United States, with a melting pot of cultures in the group. That diversity is something Ziegler said makes Switzerland different from other countries.
“I think it’s something beautiful,” Ziegler said. “It’s not only the national team, the whole country is like this. I think this is the future and the people accept that and they are proud of this team.”