Because of the U.S.' depth in the back, Califf has had to fight for playing time. But why sulk about it? Califf has performed pretty well each time he's earned his way onto the pitch. He's a proven leader, having served as the captain of an Aalborg BK team that won the Danish championship in 2008. Califf, a former MLS star, signed with Danish Superliga team FC Midtjylland during the offseason.
Califf played at the University of Maryland from 1998 to 2000, helping the Terrapins to the NCAA national semifinals as a freshman. After his sophomore season, Califf signed a Project-40 contract with the MLS and entered the SuperDraft. The L.A. Galaxy took him sixth overall, and he started 16 games as a rookie.
Califf became one of the best defenders in the league and started 69 games in the next three years. With Califf making plays in the back, the Galaxy won the MLS Cup in '02. However, in '04 Califf was held back by injuries, making just 10 starts. L.A. traded him to San Jose for allocation money during the offseason.
In San Jose, Califf settled into a starting role and starred, earning an MLS Best XI honor for the first time. After just one year, though, he left San Jose to sign with Aalborg of the Danish Superliga. Califf appeared in 30 of 33 games in his first season and was named team captain after that year.
Califf led Aalborg to the gold medal of the 2007-08 Superliga season. He signed with Superliga rival Midtjylland after he and Aalborg could not agree on a new deal. Califf made his debut for the U.S. national team on Jan. 19, 2002, against South Korea. In '03, Califf made nine starts for the U.S., his most in a calendar year. He scored his first U.S. goal a year later against Haiti. However, Califf suited up in just one game in the next two years for the U.S.
U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley brought him back into the fold in '07, and Califf became a member of the squad that competed at the 2007 Copa America tournament. He made three appearances, all starts, for the U.S. last year. He played the full 90 minutes in all three.
Califf started in central defense in the U.S.' 2-2 come-from-behind draw against El Salvador in the first road World Cup qualifier of the final round, but he has seen little action since.
Still, with all the depth the U.S. has in the back, Califf could find himself fighting for a World Cup roster spot.
Strengths: Reliable and strong in the air.
Weaknesses: Gets it done with his grit but could be quicker.
Career high: Wearing the captain's armband and leading Aalborg BK to glory.
Career low: It ultimately could be sliding out of contention for a WC spot.
Style: Another blue-collar player in the back.
Quote: "I'd love to use the Danish league as a springboard. At the same time, winning the championship was probably one of the most amazing things that ever happened to me in football. To go to another club with aspirations to do the same thing, it means a lot. Not a lot of people that play in Europe , even in some of the lower countries, are able to say they've won championships.'' -- Califf in October of '08
Trivia: Move over, Laird Hamilton. Califf is an avid surfer.
Soccernet says: Califf appears to have fallen behind Chad Marshall on the team's list of center backs. He appears to be a question mark to make the team.
WORLD CUP QUALIFYING - CONCACAF