The U.S. Men’s National Team’s list of attacking options continues to grow heading into a busy 2021 and Orlando City’s Chris Mueller is working to make full use of his first USMNT call-up in order to climb that list of options following a career-best season in MLS.
Mueller earned his first national team call-up after playing a key role in Orlando City’s turnaround under Oscar Pareja this season. The 24-year-old helped the Lions clinch the club’s first playoff berth and is soaking in every minute of his first senior camp this month.
“My experiences have been great so far,” Mueller said in a conference call Friday. “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.”
“I think it’s been developing very nicely over the past couple of days. Obviously a lot of the guys here are professional and they know we have to work together in order to accomplish our goal. I think the adjustment period is continuous and its all about one day at a time, but the guys have been very helpful including the veterans who have earned a lot of caps for the National Team. It’s a good mixture of guys who are really hungry and trying to prove themselves on the next level.”
After delivering eight goals and 11 assists for Orlando City over the past two seasons, Mueller stepped up his production in a shortened 2020 campaign. The Illinois native reached double digits in goals for the first time in his career with 10 while also chipping in seven assists.
Mueller’s playmaking ability and good one-on-one skills have made him one of the best wingers in MLS this season and caught Berhalter’s attention for the December camp. While Mueller has not played in Berhalter’s system yet, the forward is hoping to learn anything he can from his first opportunity for the USMNT.
“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.
“Honestly, I haven’t really thought about the measurable things that I’m looking for in terms of success. 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.”
Mueller is one of many young attacking talents who could receive their debut against El Salvador before a busy 2021 schedule begins. The attacking player is joined by teammates Daryl Dike and Andres Perea in this camp, two other players who have yet to appear for the USMNT in their careers.
After delivering his best season yet in MLS, Mueller will now look to make an impact in his first appearance for his country.
“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,” Mueller said. “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.”