(Image courtesy Chas Dorman/Penn Athletics)
PHILADELPHIA — Michael Orozco Fiscal had hoped to remain in Philadelphia this year as a member of the Union.
Instead, he’ll have to settle for making a quick pit-stop in the city after earning a surprise call-up to the US national team for Wednesday’s friendly against Mexico at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field (9 pm ET; ESPN2, Univisión).
“Oh man, I’m happy to be out here, in the city where I played for a whole year,” Orozco Fiscal said following the US' training session at the University of Pennsylvania’s Rhodes Field on Monday. “The fans are good. I’m excited to hopefully get five to 10 minutes, or 90 if I can, in front of the fans here.”
Orozco Fiscal was a key contributor for the Union in their inaugural season in 2010, starting 29 of the club’s 30 games at either fullback or center back and even getting into the scoring fun with a pair of goals.
But he was only on a one-year loan from the Mexican club San Luis, and the Union decided not to exercise their option to purchase his contract. The move was surprising, though, as Orozco had been training with the Union up to two weeks before the 2011 season began and because both he and the Philly coaches said during the preseason that they were close to working out a deal for him to stay.
Although it happened five months ago, Orozco Fiscal admitted the breakup was “very hard.” But the Mexican-American defender, who is playing for San Luis again, said he doesn’t hold any ill will toward his ex-employers.
“Listen, I think my time here was good,” Orozco Fiscal said. “I was happy from the day I got here to the day I left. I hold nothing bad against them. I watch their games. All my friends are out here. I support them 110 percent.”
Another thing he has to be happy about: being called up to the national team, a move that surprised even him.
Before Jurgen Klinsmann selected him for Wednesday's game, Orozco Fiscal had made only one official appearance for the USMNT and was mostly out of the international picture since drawing a detrimental red card in the 2008 Olympics for the U-23 team. He also had been idle for awhile since the Mexican Primera División’s season only recently started.
“Obviously I was [surprised] because I wasn’t playing for about four months,” Orozco Fiscal said. “When I got to San Luis, I started working hard because I found out there was a new coach and I wanted to be a part of it. When you work hard, good things come your way.”
Although the call-up may have been surprising to some, the players who know Orozco Fiscal best — such as former Union teammate Danny Califf — believe the selection is very much deserved.
“That’s awesome for Mike,” Califf said following the Union’s 1-1 draw with the Dynamo on Saturday. “It was a bit of a weird situation in the preseason and everything with that, but Mike’s a great player and deserving of a call-up. I’m really happy for him, and I'm hoping to see him and get to hang out for a bit.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.