De La Fuente's rapid rise to continue with first USMNT opportunity

De La Fuente's rapid rise to continue with first USMNT opportunity

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De La Fuente's rapid rise to continue with first USMNT opportunity

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Konrad De La Fuente’s 2020 has already been filled with several firsts and now the American winger will add another to his growing list before the end of the year.

De La Fuente will have his first opportunity to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team over the next two weeks after receiving a senior call up on Tuesday for a pair of international friendlies in Europe. The 19-year-old Miami native has trained with Barcelona’s first team and featured in a pair of September friendlies for the club, impressing Barcelona’s coaches, and earning a chance to show the USMNT what he can do.

“We have a connection with the Barcelona first team coaching staff and one thing they’re amazed at is what he gives them on the field – his verticality – he’s able to stretch the opponent and always make them move backwards,” Berhalter said on Tuesday. “When you can do that now, you can create space between the lines.”

De la Fuente has yet to make his competitive debut for Barcelona, but did dress in last season’s UEFA Champions League and has continued to train with the first team under Ronald Koeman. The 19-year-old Miami native mainly played with Barcelona’s Under-19 team last season before being promoted to the B team in early 2020.

In his six appearances with Barcelona B, De La Fuente made an immediate impact, scoring three goals and adding one assist. His quick impression with Barcelona B earned him the opportunities to train alongside first team stars Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, and Gerard Pique before rejoining Barca B this season.

De La Fuente is one of 10 players who will be seeking their senior debut against Wales and Panama over the next 12 days, and after his continued improvement domestically, he could be given an immediate chance against two competitive sides.

“He’s relentless with his running behind the backline and it’s something he’s really worked on,” Berhalter said. “When you look at his progression from the Under-20s at the World Cup, he wanted the ball at his feet all the time.”

“He’s done it with the second team and he’s done it with the first team now, and it’s been a real pleasure to watch. He’s a guy that we’re really excited to work with, excited to get in camp and add that element to our game as well.”

De La Fuente will be joined by former U-20 teammates Sebastian Soto, Timothy Weah, and Ulysses Llanez in the USMNT attack with matches against Wales and Panama kicking off on Nov. 12th and 16th respectively in Swansea and Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

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