Tommy McNamara's inclusion in the United States' preliminary squad for the Gold Cup comes as no surprise to Patrick Vieira, his manager at New York City FC.
McNamara was among the 40 players named to the national team ahead of this summer's CONCACAF tournament, the first time he's been called up by his country.
"He was one of the biggest surprises since working with him last year," Vieira said of McNamara. "He's a really smart player who's been doing very well for us, and I'm not surprised he's made the 40-squad for the national team."
McNamara has proven to be a player who comes through in clutch situations, as displayed by late-game heroics this season against San Jose and Dallas, and he called the call-up "a huge honor."
"To represent your country is something I've dreamt of doing since I was a young kid," he said.
NYCFC's Sean Johnson, who was the third goalkeeper on the 2013 Gold Cup squad, was also named to the 40-man list.
"It's massive." Johnson said. "For me it's huge. I'm excited."
The 6-foot-4 keeper has tallied five appearances with the national team, and he was happy to see McNamara on the list as well.
"I'm excited for Tommy." Johnson added. "He's worked hard. He put the work in, he's a great guy and a great teammate as well."
U.S. coach Bruce Arena must still cut the roster to 23 men before the Gold Cup, and can name six alternates to swap in for the knockout stage as well.
NYCFC captain David Villa, a World Cup winner with Spain, said both players deserve the chance to play for the U.S.
"They are both really, really good players," Villa said. "They work hard every day and to have the opportunity to represent their country and national team is great news."
For NYCFC, a team looking to climb its way to the top of the Eastern Conference table, having two players receive national recognition is a solid benchmark, but by no means an end goal.
"It adds a little bit more extra motivation," McNamara said. "Right now, I'm focusing on the club trying to do as well as we can as a group."
And McNamara's manager agreed that the national team recognition "is just a first step."
"They have to be really ambitious players and when you see the way they've been working every week," Vieira said. "They want to be on the national team and I hope they will have a chance to show how good they can be."