DUSSELDORF, Germany — Alfredo Morales said so much with just a stare and stern smile that there was no disputing how he felt about wanting to return to the U.S. Men’s National Team.
The Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder was fresh off an impressive performance in Dusseldorf’s 2-0 Rhein Derby victory against Cologne, Morales’ first Bundesliga start since returning from a leg injury suffered while on USMNT duty, and he had a simple response when asked if he thinks he will get a call for the upcoming Nations League matches against Canada and Cuba.
“I hope so,” Morales told a collection of American journalists, as he fixed a strong gaze and slowly revealed a slight grin. It was a face that makes it clear he believes he is deserving a call from Gregg Berhalter.
Zack Steffen clearly agrees. The USMNT goalkeeper and Morales’ Fortuna Dusseldorf teammate didn’t hesitate when asked if he would like to see Morales called
“Of course,” Steffen said. “Yeah, he can help us out for sure. And he’s a great guy. He deserves it.”
Morales put in a strong shift in a defensive midfield role against Cologne, helping contain the visitors with his tenacious coverage of the middle of the field. He also contributed to the attack, drawing a penalty kick to set up his team’s opening goal.
“I thought he did well,” Steffen said of Morales. “He battled the entire game, like he always does. He’s really important for us. He brings the physicality, and the intensity, and he doesn’t stop running. I’m happy he’s back, and I know the whole team is happy.”
Morales suffered an injury in the USMNT friendly loss to Mexico in September, an injury that forced him to miss a month of action, halting what had been a strong start to the Bundesliga season. He recently returned to action after shaking off an illness, playing in his team’s recent DFB Pokal win against Aue last Wednesday before earning the call to start in Sunday’s Rhein Derby clash with Cologne.
“It’s always tough times when you’re injured,” Morales said. “I was sick after my injury, but that’s how it is. You have to just prepare yourself for the next time, for your time, when you get subbed in, when you start, doesn’t matter. I’m just trying to be focused in everything I do and every training, and before every game. I think today was a good one. It was a good first start again.”
Morales wasn’t available for the USMNT’s Nations League matches in October, including the shock loss to Canada. He didn’t watch the Canada loss due to the time difference between Canada and Germany, but is hoping to be a part of the looming rematch in Orlando on November 15.
“Of course I want to go, of course,” Morales said. “It’s the biggest thing for every soccer player, of course, to represent your country and I’m ready to go. I’m just trying to be prepared.”