FRISCO, Texas – Eric Alexander and Zach Loyd combined to start 31 games for FC Dallas last year as rookies. Their impressive debut campaigns have earned them each a spot among the four-player FCD contingent that will be at the US National Team camp beginning on January 4, 2011 in Los Angeles.
Understandably, both players are pretty excited.
“It’s a big honor to get picked. It came as a bit of a surprise,” Alexander said. “I’m glad and am just really looking forward to it.”
“When I found out, I was really ecstatic. I got choked up telling my mom,” he said. “It’s something I had dreamed about since I started playing soccer. I’m very humbled. It’s a great honor. I’m thankful for the people that have helped me get there along the way. Hopefully I’ll do well in January.”
Alexander was a fourth-round pick in January’s Super Draft while Loyd was FCD’s top pick in the first round. At least one of their teammates isn’t at all shocked they got the nod from US head coach Bob Bradley.
“I think it’s amazing. I have no doubt in my mind that those guys are going to have great futures,” FCD captain Daniel Hernandez said. “I think the coach of the national team got it exactly right in calling those guys in along with Ugo [Ihemelu] and Brek [Shea]. Those guys definitely deserve to be there and I’m glad they got called in, especially the young guys. It doesn’t surprise me at all. They’ll definitely be in the mix for years to come.”
FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman echoes the sentiments of his captain.
“They’re young players that I thought had good rookie years,” Hyndman said. “I think it’s another opportunity for Bob Bradley to get a look at some of these young players and see how they’re coming along and give them opportunities as well.”
One added positive for both Alexander and Loyd will be the presence of teammates Shea and Ihemelu, who together make up one of the largest contingents from any MLS team (Colorado also has four).
“I’m really happy that our team is well represented," Alexander said. "I shared a lot of experiences with them over the season, and now this is one more thing we get to experience together."
During their rookie season, Alexander and Loyd became very close friends, which makes their dual call-up even more meaningful.
“It’s a really cool experience to come into the league like Eric and I did as rookies, both being able to play as much as we did and talk to each other and build our relationship as we went on,” Loyd said. “You have your ups and downs as a rookie, and it’s good to be able to relate to someone who is going through the exact same situation. Now to get called up together, it’s an awesome honor.”
But both players admit they don’t know exactly what to expect from their first camp with the USMNT.
“I’m just going to go in there with an open mind,” Alexander said. “I’m not really sure what to expect, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Loyd adds: “I think the level of soccer is definitely going to be raised. There are going to be a lot of people there trying to show their best. I’m expecting a pretty intense camp."
And with FCD set to commence preseason training on January 31, both players realize being in the US camp can only help their preparation for the start of practice back in Frisco.
“I think it’s going to be very beneficial for all the guys on FC Dallas," Loyd said. "We’re going to have a good, solid month of training with great players, getting our fitness level to its max going into the preseason. I just hope all the guys that go there show well, have a good time and once that’s over, get ready for our season because it’s right around the corner.”