MANCHESTER, England – It’s been an impressive rookie campaign for Chicago Fire midfielder/defender Matt Polster, whose fine form has seen him mentioned as a candidate for MLS Rookie of the Year and earn his first call up to the US Under-23 national team.
The call to this week’s U-23 camp in England didn’t come as a surprise to Polster, who had declined invites to earlier U-23 camps to stay with the Fire, where he’s started 23 of the club’s 26 regular season matches.
Now he’s with Andi Herzog’s side for their most important training camp of the year, a week-long stint that will see the US play two final friendlies – against England on Thursday (2:40 pm ET, ESPN3) and against Qatar next Tuesday – prior to next month’s CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament.
The 22-year-old Polster doesn’t quite yet know where he’ll be lining up for the U-23s, but he plans on taking the same attitude he brings to his positioning in Chicago, where he’s played at center back, right back and center midfield this year.
“If they put me in any position, I’ll just work super hard as I’ve always done,” he said.
It’s a philosophy that has already taken Polster far this season. Although results may not have come for the Fire on a consistent basis in 2015, Polster is confident that the team – which is now firmly back in the playoff picture, just two points behind sixth-place Orlando City SC – is on the right track.
“I think they’ve brought a lot of players in who haven’t been in the league and some new guys and it was tough to gel as a team,” he said of his club team's fortunes. “If next year, we can keep a core group of guys and build off that, then I think we’ll be good.”
While next season may seem a long way away for Fire fans, Polster himself could still be in line for some individual honors this season. But the potential MLS Rookie of the Year isn’t letting himself get carried away with any award talk, knowing he faces a stiff battle for postseason recognition from Orlando forward Cyle Larin.
“It comes up but I just get on with it,” he said. “Obviously Cyle Larin’s another frontrunner that I know of and I know he’s had a great year so, I mean, whatever happens, happens.”