Chelsea's Matt Miazga wants to be 'the best American player'

MIAMI -- Matt Miazga has yet to debut for Chelsea since his January transfer from the New York Red Bulls of MLS, but the 20-year-old American believes his game has improved just by practicing with the English champs, and says he hopes to one day become "the best American player."

"The set up is great over there -- I feel like even in training I'm getting so much better working with all these world-class players," Miazga told ESPN on Monday in South Florida, where the U.S. U23 national team is preparing for its two-leg playoff against Colombia for a berth at this summer's Olympics.

"I just have to be patient, and when I get opportunities take them and slowly impress the coaching staff and just establish myself."

And as far as Miazga is concerned, there is no better place for his development, despite the fact that with experienced center-backs like Gary Cahill, John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic -- who have 968 Premier League appearances between them -- on the Blues' books, his chances of cracking the lineup this year appear slim.

"I wanted to test myself in Europe to see what I can do," Miazga said. "I want to be the best player I can be, the best American player. Why not challenge myself at one of the biggest clubs in the world?"

Still, biding his time has been an adjustment for a player who made 24 MLS starts a year ago, helping lead the Red Bulls win the Supporters' Shield with the league's best regular-season record.

"It's definitely a little different because I had been playing consistently and now I'm not," Miazga said. "As a young player, you have to grind through."

Miazga has made Chelsea's bench a few times, including last month's Champions League last-16 loss at Paris Saint-Germain.

"I was happy to be on the roster, or squad -- they say squad over there -- for such a big game after I had just got to the club. Now I'm hoping to make the roster more consistently," Miazga said, adding that he's not sure if he'll be loaned to a smaller club next season to gain experience.

"I know I can do it. I'm in a great situation."