Chris Mueller took some time out of his first ever USMNT camp experience to field questions from the media. My takeaway from the call is that Mueller is, as usual, positive and upbeat, and he seems to be having a good time soaking it all in.
“My experiences have been great so far,” he said via the U.S. Soccer Zoom media call. “Obviously really excited to be here and honored to be called in and just getting used to things getting in the mix with the guys. Getting to know each other has been great and really excited to see what the next steps are.”
Mueller said he hasn’t had any discussions with manager Gregg Berhalter yet about any expectations or whether he’ll get into next Wednesday’s match against El Salvador.
“Obviously we’re chatting a bit during the training sessions and I’m getting a feel for what he wants out of me as a player on the field, so we’ll see what that leads us to here in the next couple of days,” said Mueller.
One of the topics that came up was his Orlando City teammate, Andres Perea, who is a dual national and would have to decide to switch his commitment to the United States from Colombia. Mueller didn’t have any insight on which way Perea might be leaning after a couple days of USMNT camp, but added that he’s glad he gets to go through this initial camp with Perea and Orlando City striker Daryl Dike.
“I haven’t really spoken much with Andres, about his decision on where he wants to play. That’s obviously something that will be left up to him,” Mueller said. “But I think it’s been helpful having the two guys here in terms of just coming from the same background, from the same situation, having just played games from the same system and now we’re all learning new things all together. It’s cool to see how we’re all adapting, all learning, and engaging ourselves with trying to be the best versions of ourselves while we’re here. You know, we want to maximize this time and learn as much as we can and soak everything in, so it’s been a great experience so far and I’m glad to have those two guys from my team here with me as well.”
While Mueller has built tremendous chemistry with Dike throughout the 2020 season, he’s having to learn the tendencies of new attacking players with the national team — what space they like to move into, where they like the ball played, etc. — but he said that is the kind of thing that can happen quickly playing with high-level players like his USMNT teammates.
Mueller said one of his Orlando teammates — recent free agent Dom Dwyer — has offered some wisdom on getting this opportunity. Cash also offered his thoughts on Dwyer’s new free agent status.
“I’m in touch with Dom pretty often. He’s one of my good friends, obviously, and he’s told me just to embrace the opportunity,” Mueller said. “And for me being my first [call-up], he was telling me just to enjoy it and to soak up the moments. Be here with the guys and to just do my best and whatever may come is going to come.
“But I wish him all the best, obviously, moving forward. It’s sad to see him go and we’ll see what it brings with him. Obviously, he’s a very good player. He’s someone who’s experienced in the league and I think that he’s definitely still got a couple bright years ahead of him.
It’s no secret that Mueller often finds inspiration and self-improvement through reading. Many of those kinds of books speak in terms of measuring success. As such, it only seemed natural to question Chris about how he’ll determine success in regard to this first call-up to the national team.
“Honestly, I haven’t really thought about the measurable things that I’m looking for in terms of success,” he said. “I’m kind of taking this experience day by day because the days are going by fast. I want to learn. I want to get engaged with the guys, with my teammates, learn the system, learn from the coaches.
“I think everyone has something unique to give, so I think when I’m looking at it from that standpoint, obviously receiving my first call up to the first team has been something that I’ve been working my whole life towards and that’s just getting the call. So, I would say as of right now I’m grateful to be here. I’m obviously hungry for more. I hope to make my debut in the game, but we’ll see what happens and I’m not going to be upset if I don’t. I know that this is a process and things take time and I’m just going to keep believing myself and doing what I’m doing.”
The USMNT takes on El Salvador next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. (ESPNews, UniMas, TUDN). Whether we’ll get to see Mueller or his teammates achieve their dreams and get national team minutes remains to be seen. But, whether he gets on the field or not, Mueller is going to use this experience as a springboard into 2021.