He may live in the United States now, but Pat Onstad is still proud of all things Canadian. So when the call came inviting him to rejoin the national team for the first time in almost a year and a half, it was an easy decision.
"If they're willing enough to give me a call, then I'm crazy enough to accept the invitation," Onstad said with a laugh this week as he prepared to join Canada in preparation for its Jan. 31 friendly against Jamaica.
There is nothing crazy about the arrangement. At 42 years old, Onstad remains at the top of his game after posting a 0.97 goals against average in league play and shutout streaks of 491 and 313 minutes during the 2009 season. He also won Major League Soccer's inaugural Save of the Year award for stopping a penalty kick and the rebound in the Dynamo's 1-0 win over Colorado on April 19.
Although he has not represented Canada since allowing a goal from a corner kick in a World Cup qualifier in August 2008 - ironically against Jamaica - Onstad brings 56 caps and a wealth of experience to the Canadian squad. Oh yeah, and he remains the all-time MLS leader in goals against average with a mark of 1.05.
Ever humble, Onstad acknowledged that filling in for several other Canadian 'keepers who could not make the trip was just fine with him.
"It's nice to know you're the fifth-choice keeper," said a glib Onstad, who joins 21-year-old David Monsalve of Inter Turku in Finland on the roster. "But seriously, it's great, and I'm excited."
Monsalve - who was born 10 months after Onstad made his international debut in 1988 - was the only goalkeeper initially named to the roster in mid-January. With Lars Hirschfeld (recent transfer), Kenny Stamatopoulos (club duty), and Greg Sutton (preseason camp) all unavailable, Onstad was next in line.
"I love being involved, and it'll be nice to see some familiar faces and also some new young talent Canada has," Onstad said. "It will be a great experience to train with them this week."
Onstad and Houston teammate Andrew Hainault, who is also in the Canadian squad, will rejoin the Dynamo during their first week of training in Houston Feb. 1-5. After an offseason of uncertainty about midfielders Ricardo Clark and Stuart Holden, Onstad said Dynamo players are anxious to begin training.
"It's been a tough offseason for the front office to figure out who they can bring to the squad," Onstad said. "Waiting on Rico and Stu has been difficult on players as well, so it'll be nice once that's behind us, and we'll have the opportunity to train and do what we're best at."
What Onstad does best is keep opponents from scoring, and he hopes to add to his Canadian record 21 international shutouts on Jan. 31, proving why he is the Dynamo's first choice.