Matt Hedges - US national team - walks onto the training field
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Matt Hedges optimistic he'll get his US national team shot at the Gold Cup

FRISCO, Tex. – For Matt Hedges, the US national team's 2018 World Cup qualifiers earlier this month were only the beginning.

Even though the FC Dallas center back didn’t play against Mexico at the Estadio Azteca in a 1-1 draw, Hedges is optimistic he'll get a chance to show what he can do in a game very soon to add to his two career senior USMNT caps.

This, because of a recent conversation he had with USMNT head coach Bruce Arena.

“He said the Gold Cup will be a good opportunity for me,” Hedges said of his USMNT future. “He considered playing me against Mexico, and I understand why he went with Geoff [Cameron]. But he was very happy with how I was training and have been playing this year. He’s very easy to talk to and lays out the expectations pretty clearly.”

Those expectations according to Hedges: Keep performing at a high level in MLS, avoid mental mistakes, and be consistent.

It might be obvious criteria to become known on the national stage. But if anybody knows about the journey from sitting on the USMNT bench to cracking the starting XI and going the full 90 minutes, it’s one of Hedges’ current teammates.

“It’s almost assumed,” said FCD's Kellyn Acosta of waiting to see game time with the national team. “It’s hard to get the call-up and get thrown into the starting lineup. There’s a key group of guys that Bruce has and he just kind of adds pieces here and there.

“Bruce just stresses we’re all good players and there for a reason, so we don’t need to do something out of the ordinary,” Acosta added. “Just keep doing what we’re doing with our clubs, and that’s what he’s looking for. He picks a group of guys that he knows can get the job done. He doesn’t want guys trying to overdo things. Just stick with what you’re good at and keep doing that.”

Acosta, who has emerged this year as a first-choice midfielder with the national team, said he hasn’t explicitly shared the experience of his journey to the top of the USMNT lineup with Hedges, mainly because he knows Hedges has the intangibles to understand the process on his own.

“Matt’s been positive,” Acosta said. “He knows the work he puts in here will translate to the national team, so he’s just focusing on what’s going on here. And once he gets called into camp, he’ll do the best he can and hopefully get some minutes as well.”

And according to Hedges, those minutes likely aren’t too far away.

“I’m pretty sure it’ll be pretty soon,” said Hedges.