FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Last weekend, Revolution forward Juan Agudelo received what he called a “very nice” e-mail from U.S. Soccer. The message: Agudelo’s services were needed for an upcoming friendly.
On Sunday, Agudelo and fellow teammate Lee Nguyen, who received a similar e-mail, were both called up by the U.S. Men’s National Team for Wednesday’s international friendly against Mexico at the Alamodome.
For Agudelo, whose last National Team call-up came against Ukraine in March 2014, the opportunity to don the U.S. uniform was one that kept him focused while he bounced around Europe looking for a club last year.
“I’m very grateful and very happy to be back,” Agudelo said. “It’s something I've thought about for the past year. I’m going to do everything that I can to show what I got and to show that I should stay in the pool.”
While Wednesday’s match will be the showcase, the 22-year-old striker is ready to put in the work behind the scenes to warrant more call-ups in the future. After chatting with Nguyen and Jermaine Jones, both of whom were called into camp earlier this year, Agudelo said he’s “prepared to run.”
“The National Team really wants their players fit,” Agudelo said. “(I) just have to be prepared and healthy, and give it all I’ve got.”
But Agudelo knows that he won’t be judged solely on his conditioning, especially with Klinsmann’s constant emphasis on tactical awareness.
“It’s a system where you have to understand where to play your role, and your position,” Agudelo said. “You have to (get an) understanding of your teammates -- when to press and when not to press.”
The stakes for Wednesday’s match are certainly high for Agudelo, who’ll be trying to earn a spot on the Gold Cup roster this summer. But for Nguyen, the high-profile friendly is significant for different reasons.
Unlike Agudelo, the Revolution midfielder, who enters Wednesday’s match with six career caps, has never partaken in the longstanding U.S.-Mexico rivalry. Not surprisingly, he’s eager to be a part of the next chapter of the ongoing saga between the top two national teams in North America.
“It’s always great,” Nguyen said. “It’s an honor, obviously, and it’s a big game against Mexico -- one of the biggest rivalries, so I’m looking forward to that.”
He’s also looking forward to building upon his last three appearances for the U.S. team, which came over the course of the last five months. For Nguyen, who waited seven years in between his third and fourth call-ups, Wednesday’s match is another stepping stone toward becoming a regular on the National Team scene.
“It’s always about being consistent, and trying to break into that 18-, 20-man roster that are often called in,” Nguyen said. “It’s (about) all these guys who keep going there and proving themselves, and I’m also one of them.”
With the match set for Nguyen’s home state of Texas, Nguyen will also get the rare opportunity to wear the U.S. uniform in front of friends and family. And he’ll get to do it with another familiar face there as well.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Nguyen said of joining camp with Agudelo. “We’re obviously familiar with each other, so it’s a plus to have him on the team, as well.”