Philadelphia Union's Amobi Okugo on USMNT Gold Cup disappointment: "It adds more fuel to the fire"
Amobi Okugo isn’t concerned that he’s yet to be called up to the full US national team and didn’t make Jurgen Klinsmann’s preliminary 2013 Gold Cup roster, despite many people thinking he’d be included on it.
All the Philadelphia Union rising star has to do is look at a player like Geoff Cameron to know good things could still be on the horizon for him at the international level.
“Hopefully I can follow in his footsteps,” Okugo told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s great to see him play well in so many positions. Sometimes being versatile is a curse but in his case, it’s helping him.”
WATCH: Okugo scores vs. LA Galaxy
Cameron, who’s featured mostly as a defender with his club team (Stoke City) and the US national team, was a key part of the Americans’ 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Panama last week while playing as a central midfielder in place of the injured Jermaine Jones.
Like the 27-year-old Cameron, the 22-year-old Okugo has experience both as a center back and as a midfielder, which he hopes will propel him into the national team picture. During the win over Panama, Okugo even tweeted: “Geoff Cameron making all center mid/ center backs proud !!!!”
Geoff Cameron making all center mid/ center backs proud !!!!
— Amobi Okugo (@amobisays) June 12, 2013
“Hopefully I can emulate his success,” Okugo said. “Whether it’s at center mid or center back.”
Okugo, who’s played at every level in the US youth national system, also said it was a “motivation” watching young MLS players like Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler hold down the center back position for the national team.
And while he admitted it stung not to make the Gold Cup provisional roster, he found it easier to deal with when he saw that all of the defenders called up were World Cup veterans or other well-established players.
“It was a goal of mine, but there are many ways to the top of the mountain,” Okugo said. “It adds more fuel to the fire. Hopefully I can keep playing well and do well with Philly. That’s all I can hope for.”
In the meantime, he’ll continue to be one of the US national team’s biggest fans. So when the US takes on Honduras in another World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night (9 pm ET; ESPN/UniMas, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com), he’ll be screaming and pacing like usual.
“If you ask the guys, they can’t watch the game next to me,” Okugo laughed. “It’s basically like I’m playing while the game’s going on.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.