UCLA alums leading U.S. and Iran toward World Cup

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Some UCLA alumni are helping their team toward a world championship -- and we’re not talking about Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar.

Carlos Bocanegra, captain of the U.S. men’s national soccer team, scored the winning goal this weekend in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Honduras. He was honored as this week’s Peak Performer by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Fellow Bruins Marvell Wynne and Jonathan Bornstein started for the national team last week in games against Costa Rica and Honduras, respectively, and Benny Feilhaber played in the second half against Honduras. All four will be on the U.S. roster for this month’s FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, where they will face Italy, Brazil and Egypt.

But the most interesting story might be Afshin Ghotbi, who played at UCLA in 1983. He took over as head coach for Iran in April and coached his first World Cup qualifier on Saturday -- a 0-0 draw with North Korea. A former assistant with the Los Angeles Galaxy and scout for the U.S. team, he did a fascinating interview with the New York Times immediately before taking the Iranian job.

-- Adam Rose