Tyler Boyd's unorthodox journey to the USMNT already paying off

Tyler Boyd's unorthodox journey to the USMNT already paying off

CONCACAF Gold Cup

Tyler Boyd's unorthodox journey to the USMNT already paying off

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American fans have a new dual national to get excited for after Tuesday night’s 4-0 U.S. Men’s National Team win over Guyana to open up the Concacaf Gold Cup.

New Zealand born winger Tyler Boyd scored two of the team’s four goals in its first competitive match in nearly two years and just his second game with the USMNT. He put in a man of the match level performance overall and essentially announced himself as the latest promising American talent that most fans had never heard of.

The 24-year-old Boyd was born in New Zealand and he lived in California until he was ten years old. He’s a dual citizen with an Kiwi father and American mother and he made the permanent switch to the USMNT in May after only playing in a couple of friendlies with the New Zealand National Team. He saw the field in the USMNT’s pre-Gold Cup friendly against Venezuela and showed what he could do in earnest on Tuesday.

His first goal showed his deft first touch when he knocked down a pinpoint pass from Michael Bradley. He then calmly collected the ball and smashed a shot into the corner of the net like it was second nature to him. His second of the night demonstrated an ability to create some space for himself by carving out a shooting lane in a crowded penalty area. That first goal was the 1,000th goal scored in USMNT history, a moment at Boyd was proud to be a part of.

“It’s a special moment for me,” Boyd told reporters after the match. “I had my family in the crowd, they travelled from New Zealand. After the game I gave my mum my shirt, so just very special moment. Also to score two goals for the team and for the nation and for that to be the 1,000th goal, I had no idea. What a special moment and what a good performance for the team.”

Boyd’s route to the USMNT was far from conventional. He played on youth teams in New Zealand before making the move to Vitória de Guimarães in Portugal in 2015. He hasn’t appeared much for their senior team, but he went on loan to Ankaragücü in the Turkish Super Lig and impressed with six goals in 14 matches. That was enough to attract Gregg Berhalter’s attention in the spring.

He officially filed for a one-time switch since he had yet to play a competitive match with the All-Whites and FIFA approved the move in time to see Boyd added to the Gold Cup roster.

The obscure path to the USMNT has paid off early on. While he still loves his homeland, he cannot be happier with his decision to move on to a new adventure halfway around the globe.

“Now I’ve represented both countries and I made the switch and I’m so happy that I did,” Boyd said. “I love both countries but at the moment I’m playing for the USA and I’m so happy and it’s a dream come true, honestly. All the hard work and all the people that have helped me on the way, it’s just an amazing moment.”

He’s earned the support and appreciation of his teammates as well. He worked well with Christian Pulisic while playing out wide and he took advantage of a system designed for wingers like Boyd to thrive. Midfielder Paul Arriola, who played opposite Boyd at the top of a 4-3-3 formation and also scored against Guyana, is impressed with the way he plays the game.

“Tyler’s been great,” Arriola said. “Great addition on and off the field. He’s been real professional, real good dude. We’ve been happy to have him with us and his goals, it was a flash of the type of player he is and what he can bring. He can be very flashy at times, he can be very simple and he can make big plays and tonight he was able to do that.”

Boyd will need to keep that flashy style going throughout the Gold Cup if the USMNT wants to make another run at a continental title. Assuming Berhalter has enough faith in him to keep him in the starting XI, he will be out to prove that his performance was more than just a one time deal. If he can, Americans can get excited for another young talent capable of leading this team beyond their recent struggles.

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