Matt Miazga aims to use Gold Cup as launching pad for breakthrough summer

BLAINE, Minn. – For Matt Miazga, the Concacaf Gold Cup may be just the beginning of an eventful summer.

The former New York Red Bulls center back approaches the US national team’s opening Group D match against Guyana Tuesday (10 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN, TSN) following a half-season loan where he helped Reading avoid relegation from England’s second tier.

He also knows the departure of manager Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, where Miazga is still under contract, could throw a wrinkle into the club’s plans for his 2019-2020 campaign. Miazga has gone out on loan each of the past three seasons.

“It’s going to be an interesting few weeks coming up, hopefully,” he told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday. “Obviously my main focus is the Gold Cup with the national team and contributing here.

“I’ve been in touch with my agent and Chelsea. We’re due to speak with Chelsea very soon and see what’s next. Obviously there’s news now that Sarri is leaving, so you never know what can happen with the coaches, if they want to take a look at you.”

Miazga made 18 league starts in his short time with Reading, after a coaching change saw him fall out of favor earlier in the season at Ligue 1’s Nantes. He believed both those loans will make him a better player for his next club employers.

“I had a lot of good learning experiences in France playing in the beginning, and then a new coach coming in and having to re-earn their trust,” Miazga said. “And then going to Reading and playing football matches under a lot of pressure in a relegation battle. I thought I grew a lot this year.”

The next step may be establishing himself as a reliable starter on coach Gregg Berhalter’s backline, a process that has hit a couple speed bumps of late with discouraging friendly losses to Jamaica and Venezuela earlier this month.

Miazga said the defensive breakdowns in those matches are fixable and owed largely to communication issues. And helping fix those over the next four weeks of competition is one way he can prove his worth to a potential new club.

As for the others?

“I think the most important thing is doing the basics right,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “Passing well. Completing my passes. Trying to start, build out attacks, because that’s what we need here with the national team is to build out from the back and start attacks from the back. Obviously winning all my duels aerially and on the ground. And just trying to be a leader.”

A strong Gold Cup could well lead him to greener pastures, but Miazga is content to focus on the here and now.

“There’s always a few options and we’ll see how it unfolds. I’m not stressing over that, I’m just focusing on the national team,” he said. “And once I’m done here, hopefully I’ll have a bigger picture and a better picture of what’s next.

“Whenever you perform with the national team, it’s always good to get looks at from a lot of clubs, and other clubs in different situations. For me it’s just about controlling what I can control, playing well for the national team when I get the opportunities. And the rest will take care of itself.”

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