Marco Delgado - Toronto FC
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Marky Delgado "stayed true to myself" on road to US national team selection

CARY, N.C.—Marky Delgado turns just 23 years old in May, but it feels like he’s been around a lot longer.

Delgado signed with Major League Soccer in 2012 when he was just 16, a Chivas USA Homegrown product. He first took the field that October at age 17, then got his first MLS start at 18. He’s been a regular contributor ever since, first for Chivas USA and then Toronto FC. He was also a member of the 2015 US Under-20 World Cup team that made the quarterfinals in New Zealand.

But it wasn’t until the aftermath of Toronto’s historic MLS treble last year as winners of the MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield, and Canadian Championship that Delgado finally received a call-up to the US senior national team. Coincidence or not, Delgado and Toronto teammate Alex Bono were invited into the January USMNT camp by manager Dave Sarachan, then both were called into the current March camp in North Carolina. They are two of only six players to receive consecutive call-ups and the only club teammates on the March roster who will face Paraguay in a friendly on Tuesday (7 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN).

Both Delgado and Bono are also hoping for their first USMNT caps on Tuesday. Speaking Monday in Cary, Delgado says it’s been good to have a familiar face around.

“Getting to know everyone is a big part of this camp, getting the chemistry down,” Delgado says. “So me knowing Bono’s already here is a good thing. We’re good companions and joke around a lot, so it’s good to have him around.”

Although two other Toronto teammates—Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore—are not part of the March camp, Delgado says they passed along pointers gained over the course of each player’s one hundred-plus USMNT caps.

“Michael is pretty much straight to the point: be sharp and be ready when you get here,” Delgado says. “Jozy’s always telling me things that can happen when you do well with the national team. So, I’m always having conversations, definitely with Jozy, and Mike’s giving me advice here and there.”

While Delgado can’t put his finger on any single reason he’s finally getting national team attention, one factor he cites is his pacy, yet efficient style of play.

“I stayed true to myself and stuck to my game,” Delgado says, “which is a really one-two touch type of play, keeping the ball moving and not holding the ball too long. Maybe my fast style of play is what got me on the field, because you always have those other players who can create and make plays. Like I always say, I’m just there to keep the ball moving and going forward effectively.”

With a mix of particularly young international and domestic club players in this USMNT camp, Delgado admits he hadn’t even heard of some of his current camp participants before last week. Nevertheless, as the players have gotten to know each other, the resulting atmosphere has been both friendly and competitive heading into Tuesday’s friendly.

“The competition is at a very high level,” Delgado says. “A lot of people are hungry here, whether they’re trying to prove a point or keep their spot on the national team. The training sessions have been intense, and everyone’s been putting in good work every day.”