Perry Kitchen aims to break into USMNT mix after claiming armband at Hearts

Perry Kitchen - Hearts - Battles for ball in midfield

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – If Perry Kitchen is going to make inroads with the US national team, Tuesday night’s friendly at RFK Stadium would be a fitting place to start.

After spending five seasons calling RFK home with D.C. United, Kitchen will be returning to East Capitol Street for the first time since he left MLS for Scottish Premier League side Hearts.

And following an ideal club transition – the 24-year-old has already become captain of the Edinburgh club – he’s eager to make an up-close impression on Jurgen Klinsmann before the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying begins.

"It’s a huge opportunity, just like all the games are when you’re here,” Kitchen said at training Sunday. “Especially being at my old home stadium, there’s a little extra to it. So if I get the chance to come on, it will be exciting.”

Admired for his durability and relentless motor by his old D.C. teammates, Kitchen has had limited chances for a US side with plenty of depth at his defensive midfield position.

Three of Kitchen’s four international appearances are as a sub, and he played only 45 minutes in his lone start. He didn’t feature in Friday’s 2-0 victory at Cuba, and has yet to play in a match other than a friendly.

The US opens the CONCACAF Hexagonal against Mexico in Columbus on Nov. 11.

“When those chances come, I hope that I’m ready,” Kitchen said. “It’s always up to Jurgen and the staff what they want to do. I have to respect that and just do what I can when my name’s called.”

Meanwhile in Scotland, Kitchen has excelled, making 20 appearances for Hearts between SPL and Europa League play while quickly earning a leadership role.

Kitchen credits a new environment that he insists is not all that different from his old one.

“I’d say it’s similar to MLS,” he said. “There’s not a lot of time on the ball. It’s 100 miles per hour at times.”

Off the field, Kitchen also reports less of a cultural adjustment than other Yanks in their first forays abroad.

“There’s older architecture. The food’s a bit different, but aside from that, it’s been very smooth,” Kitchen said.

Hearts currently sits third in the SPL table after eight matches. Meanwhile, Kitchen says he's also pulling his former club as it nears an Eastern Conference playoff berth.

“I’ve kept track of them a lot this year,” Kitchen said. “We get a game or two on Sky over there once in awhile, so I’ve watched them a few times. … They’ve been hot lately, three wins in a week. [I’m] really pulling for them heading into the playoffs.”