Amado Guevara in action in the 2010 World Cup for Honduras. (Valeria Witters/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports)

This story originally was posted on on March 22, 2005

By Michael Lewis Editor

NEW YORK – Unencumbered by World Cup duty with Honduras, MLS MVP Amado Guevara looks forward to focus his priorities and energy just on the MetroStars this season.

The Metros midfielder admitted for the first time on Monday that his three late-season trips to Central America for WC qualifiers affected his play during the stretch and playoff run.

“There was a lot of traveling. Too many trips,” the Honduran captain said at the club’s media day at B.B. King’s Blues bar and grill in midtown Manhattan. “It took its toll physically.

“I will be able to be fulltime with the team. It should help me and it will help the team.”

The traveling definitely took its toll.

“It’s not so much mental as it was physical,” Guevara said through his interpreter, Metros director of international affairs Orlando Conguta. “There was one game I had to leave at three in the morning for Honduras. There was another time I got to L.A. at two in the morning. It’s trying to sleep in very uncomfortable positions. It’s trying to adjust to all of the changes you have to go through.”

Guevara, who turns 29 on May 2, said he wore down for other reasons, including bouncing from one style to another.

“It did affect me,” he said. “I was concentrating on this team and then I had to change my whole concentration to the National Team. Of course, it takes it toll.

“It was an entirely different format. The National Team plays one way and the team [Metros] plays me another way. All of the adjustments takes it toll.”

In contrast, Guevara on Monday said “I feel good,” and that his priority was “to become champion this year.”

There were several reasons why. The Metros announced they had extended his contract. Guevara, who said the extension was for two years plus two years of options, was looking for security more than a hefty raise.

If the Metros want to win that elusive MLS Cup, the 5-11, 165-lb. Guevara will have to be at his best, especially during September, October and November. More than any other player, as the organizing midfielder he is the key to the team’s success.

Guevara said that he expects to resume the same demanding role as he had last season, playing as a defensive midfielder who runs the show and attacks.

“I believe it will be asked the same of me,” he said. “But I think I’m prepared. I’m prepared mentally and physically to the best of my ability. If that’s what he (coach Bob Bradley) asks me, then that’s what I will do.”

In many respects, as Guevara flourished, so did both teams.

Guevara, the league’s co-scoring champion, had accumulated 10 goals and eight assists in 18 games (8-5-5) before Honduras’ Aug. 18 qualifier vs. Costa Rica. Guevara, however, registered but two assists in eight games (1-6-1), including two playoff losses.

Honduras, eliminated from WCQ in November, started strongly with a 5-2 road triumph over Costa Rica (Guevara had a goal), but faded at 0-1-4. Guevara made three roundtrips from New York to Honduras in less than two months — in mid-August and at the beginning of September and October.

“He was under intense pressure in Honduras,” Bradley said. “I think, for the most part, he handled things pretty well.

“You get to the end of the year, the small things tip that bar one way or another.

“We were certainly in a position last year to finish strong. Amado was in the midst of an MVP season. Whether or not his play fell off or it was perceived that way because a few games went against us, I don’t know. That’s soccer.

“The top player comes under the greatest scrutiny. When their team loses, then everyone is going to hold them accountable. Amado is used to that, given the role.”

Bradley expects big things this season. He named Guevara as team captain in many pre-season matches, although he said he didn’t know what his plans were for the regular season (“Maybe we’ll have captain by committee, I don’t know”).

“We’ll continue to challenge him to take a bigger role to be a leader and help in more things,” he said. “We keep talking about how it is important to win a championship.

“Ultimately, it still comes down to the best players taking that challenge to heart and knowing that at key moments in the year, what needs to get done. Amado is one of those players.”

Guevara expects a lot of himself and his teammates.

“I know we have a big responsibility,” he said. “The players know we have a big responsibility. We know we have to work hard in order to get what we want at the end of the season.”

Guevara has played yet with newcomer Youri Djorkaeff, the ex-French international midfielder-forward who has sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Asked if he looked forward to play with Djorkaeff, Guevara did not put his new teammate in a special category.

“Listen, he’s part of the team,” he said. “I looked forward to playing with him as Carlos [Mendes] is a new player, as Ramon [Bailey] is a new player. I look forward playing with him because he is a part of the team.”