Gyasi Zardes has been called up to the USMNT roster for upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Mexico. The striker has been awarded a rare but precious commodity: a second chance.
Football is a harsh game. You have to earn your spot. When you lose it, it can be difficult to get it back again. Second chances are a rare commodity. But for Gyasi Zardes, that is precisely what he is about to be awarded.
The US Men’s National Team face Brazil and Mexico in two upcoming friendlies. Zardes, whose last appearance for the USMNT was a 2-1 win against Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 27, 2017, has been named on the roster for the upcoming header against the south and central American giants. It is a rare and precious bringing back into the fold for the centre-forward.
And Zardes is not one to overlook the joy and honour of being able to represent your country. Speaking after the call-up, the speedy striker said:
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"“Playing the same position each and every week, day in and day out, really helps a player become confident in what position he’s playing. It feels great being back here with the national team. It’s a huge honor to represent your country, but also there’s a bunch of great players here and it’s an amazing opportunity for myself just to prove myself still and also utilize this week to get better.”"
It is not an undeserved honour. Zardes, after escaping the shackles of an LA Galaxy team that resigned him to the peripheries of a struggling team, restricting him from ever playing in the positions that he wanted to, — or the positions that he was best in — has been tremendous for the Columbus Crew.
15 goals on the season is just one short of his single-season record. He is having quite literally the best season of his career, has revitalised a Crew team that has been under the threat of moving city, and is now leading one of the most unlikely playoff pushes.
Zardes’ national record is hardly attractive. 38 caps; six goals. It is certainly not something to be proud of, even if many of those appearances came during his down years in L.A. when he was being played out of position and struggling with a lack of confidence. But that only pays testament to the turnaround this season.
Dave Sarachan is looking past the historical troubles of Zardes and selecting him on form. And boy is it good form. Four goals in his last six, including winners against Orlando City and the Houston Dynamo. In fact, the Crew have only lost two games that Zardes has scored in this season, illustrating the importance, not just the quantity, of his goals.
Zardes is one of the hottest strikers in MLS. He is now being rewarded for his efforts. He should indeed feel honoured. He bloody well deserves it.