CHESTER, Pa. — When Fafa Picault returned from a three-game suspension earlier this month, he expressed confidence that he’d be able to quickly get back to speed while pointing out to reporters that he was coming off a 2017 season in which he was “the American with the most goals as a winger.”
For the Philadelphia Union speedster, helping his team win is certainly the primary mission but boosting his own stock nationally and re-emerging on the US national team radar is also never far from his mind.
And it’s a constant source of motivation.
“I feel like last year I was overlooked,” Picault told MLSsoccer.com after Wednesday’s training session. “Last year I had seven goals as a winger and I know I can do more. I’m trying to get in double digits. I’m definitely looking forward to doing that.”
While the Union offense has been mostly stagnant to start the season, Picault has brought a lot of energy since returning to the field on April 7 vs. San Jose, where he assisted on the team’s only goal in a 1-1 draw.
And after a disappointing showing from the entire team in a 2-0 loss to Orlando last Friday, Picault hopes to help the Philly attack raise its game to the next level Saturday vs. FC Dallas (8 pm ET | Full TV & streaming info).
“It’s only two games in for me, so I’m just getting used to the group again,” Picault said. “If I continue to do the same things I do and get behind the defense, hopefully we get more clear chances to start putting goals away.
As for his national team hopes, Picault did get a sniff back in 2016, making his USMNT debut in a friendly vs. Puerto Rico while playing for German club FC St. Pauli. He admits that the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann, who he had a close relationship with, may have hurt his chances to get back into the mix. But at 27, he believes he’s in the prime of his career and can help move the USMNT program forward after their devastating World Cup qualifying failure.
“It was a bit frustrating having the season I had last year compared to other American wingers and not get a look at the national team,” Picault said. “I knew when Jurgen was out that maybe my chances slipped a little bit. So now I just have to do what I have to do to make sure that at least I know I did my part. If I’m not called, I’m not called. That’s not my decision.”
The only thing he can control is building off last season’s performance in which he said he “got his feet wet in a different league,” click with the rest of the attack (including fellow speedster Accam) and score and create a lot of goals for a Union team in desperate need of a boost.
“I think last year was good, I think it was very good,” Picault said. “And this year I want it to be great.”