Ben Sweat can’t stop Miguel Ibarra from crossing the ball from the right flank to set up Minnesota’s first goal Saturday night. (Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
After enduring arguably his worst game with New York City FC Saturday night, defender Ben Sweat Monday was called up to the U.S. national team for the first time.
He will join the squad in training camp for two friendlies this month — vs. Colombia in Tampa, Fla. Oct. 11 and Peru in East Hartford, Conn. Oct. 16.
“I’m still a little shaken from it,” Sweat said. “It’s something that every player works their entire career for. I’ve had little hints here and there since joining New York but to finally get the call, it took my breath away and I’m emotional about it because I’ve worked so hard to get where I am now.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason – I think I was meant to come to New York and I got the opportunity to play and be successful in my first year and now into my second season and now this. I’m beyond honored and blessed to have this opportunity.
“It’s a big compliment and now I hope I can represent the U.S. crest like I’ve represented the NYCFC crest.”
Sweat received the good news two days after NYCFC’s 2-1 defeat at Minnesota United Saturday night. He allowed his man, Miguel Ibarra, too much room to cross the ball to goal-scorer Angelo Rodriguez and sent a poor backpass to goalkeeper Sean Johnson that Rodriguez intercepted and turned into the host’s second goal.
The Columbia match will take place in his home start of Florida and at Raymond James Stadium, some 20 minutes away from his hometown.
“I’ll have a lot of friends and a lot of family there – it’s going to be pretty amazing,” Sweat said. “And the game in Hartford is not too far from New York, so my wife will be able to come. It’s really special – I’m so excited.”
Sweat and FC Dallas right back Reggie Cannon were first-time selections to the national squad by head coach Dave Sarachan.
“Both players have had solid seasons, playing a lot of minutes while helping their clubs to good positions in the league. They both play in positions where I feel we need to improve our overall depth.
“Ben has been a consistent starter at left back for NYCFC and has put himself in the conversation to be considered for the national team.”
Sweat won’t miss any NYCFC matches since the club has three weeks off. It isn’t scheduled to compete again until Oct. 21, when it visits D.C. United.