BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, October 12, 2010
With the United States set to take on Colombia tonight in Philadelphia, one of the new players that is likely to earn his first cap with the US national team is Aston Villa fullback Eric Lichaj.
After having spent more than a week in camp, Lichaj is happy with how things have gone so far.
"It's going well," Lichaj told YA from Philadelphia. "It's good to be with the guys and training has been going really well for the past week and a half. A lot of the guys know each other and everything. Everyone has been good to me as well because I am one of the younger guys. But it's been very good."
Lichaj, 21, did not see action in the US national team's 2-2 draw in the first game of this international window series but US head coach Bob Bradley did indicate on Monday that Lichaj is likely to play against Colombia.
Lichaj admitted that his first international appearance will be an important moment in his career and he does not know how he will react.
"If I do get into the match, I will be smiling coming on," the Chicago native predicted. "After that, I will get serious and hopefully do well."
The former University of North Carolina Tarheel is known for his versatility and his ability to play both right and left back.
In camp for the US, Lichaj has been playing predominantly on the right side which is more natural to him but he has insisted that he could play on the left if called upon.
He has also been working to improve his left foot to add another dimension to his game.
"I would rather be a right back but I can play left as well," Lichaj said of his positional preference. "I can always get better with my left foot obviously. It's something that can always improve. It doesn't matter where I play but I have been playing more on the right side. That's my natural position but I can play on the left side easily."
Lichaj's inclusion in this camp came with an interesting storyline as Aston Villa indicated last week in a story on the club's website that the Polish national team had also expressed interest in having Lichaj play for them.
Despite possessing a Polish passport due to his parents being born there, Lichaj divulges that he has no interest in suiting up for The White Eagles and that he is firmly committed to playing for the Red, White and Blue.
"I don't know if I was actually called up by Poland," Lichaj said of the interest from Poland. "Someone said that they were interested in me. But it was really nothing because it was an easy decision. I just didn't want to play for Poland. I wanted to play for the US because I was brought up here and everything."
With his first cap likely to come against Colombia, Lichaj is expected to take his first steps in an increased role with the US national team as Bradley looks to rebuild an aging and struggling defense with a younger generation of players.
Now that he is beginning to emerge with his English Premier League club and with Bradley's squad, Lichaj is happy with the current state of his career.
"Over the years I have been doing better and better," Lichaj concluded. "I've gotten my first two appearances for Villa this season. Everything is looking up for me at the minute, especially getting called in here."