Former St. John's soccer star Connor Lade is getting a look from the US Men's National Team on a big stage.
Lade, 23 and coming off of a very good rookie season for MLS' New York Red Bulls, was a surprise addition to the US Mane's National team roster for the friendly game against Canada on January 29th. It is his first call up, and if he plays, his first international cap.
Lade will report to Carson, CA to train today with a side of U.S. based players; 21 of the invited players are under contract by Major League Soccer squads. The roster is also young, with eight players 23 years of age or younger.
"I kind of had to pinch myself picking up that call, because [Jurgen Klinsmann] is such a legend and he’s done great things for the national team and he's taking them in the right direction," Lade said via the Red Bulls site. "It’s just very exciting and I’m really looking forward to getting in camp and hopefully showing well for myself and the club and just try to make an impact on them for the future."
"There is a tremendous amount of talent in the player pool. We follow these players very carefully, and the group coming in is the next line to challenge the players ahead of them in the National Team," said Klinsmann in US Soccer's press release.
Many of the team's more recognizable names are in-season in Europe or Mexico.
COnnor Lade played 30 games in total. The 5'7" defender started 24 games (including two in the MLS Cup playoffs) and played in 28 for the Red Bulls, logging 3 assists in MLS play; he added 2 goals in 2 appearances in the US Open Cup. And he earned strong praise from his (now-fired) head coach Hans Backe and the Red Bulls' veteran French star Thierry Henry.
"Every time he comes on or starts games, he really makes a difference," said Hans Backe of Connor Lade during the Red Bulls season. Added Thierry Henry, "I’m a big fan of him. What I like about him is he always puts his head down and he works. He changed the game when he comes on."
The Jersey-born Lade plays midfield and defender; he's listed as a defender on the national side's roster.
US Soccer is celebrating its 100th anniversary; the friendly against Canada is the sole tune-up before the final round of 2014 World Cup qualifying for the CONCACAF region, which starts on February 6th against Honduras.
Can he change the game for the US National team? Will he get some time against Canada? Will he catch Klinsmann's eye for the future? He may be a long shot to play, but national team training and exposure is a unique experience to cap an excellent season.
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