By ADAM SERRANO
Marcus Tracy has endured his share of ups and downs in his first year of professional soccer, but the former Wake Forest standout has come through it in impressive fashion and did enough to earn a look from U.S. national team head coach Bob Bradley.
It was almost exactly a year ago when Tracy passed on a contract offer from Major League Soccer to sign for Danish club Aalborg BK. Initially in and out of the lineup, Tracy has begun to find his feet in Europe, starting in the club’s last four matches and even scoring a goal. That success was enough to make him one of the young players called in for January's U.S. national team camp, a call-up that was a pleasant surprise for the 23-year old.
“I always thought that if I worked hard that I would have an opportunity. I didn’t know when it would come, but I believe in my ability and the path that I took to be successful,” said Tracy. “It did come as a surprise to be called into this camp, but I did think that if I kept going on my own path that I would get noticed.”
The forward’s first national team camp offers him the opportunity to be evaluated by Bradley, who has not been shy about giving young players opportunities during his tenure as national team head coach.
“I think what this camp is about is getting to know him better,” Bradley said of Tracy. “This is a very exciting thing for a young player to be a part of and hopefully he’ll show well in this camp.”
A rookie on the national team scene, Tracy is playing alongside plenty of new faces, including some veterans who should help provide some guidance. One of those veterans Tracy will be looking to follow the lead of is Benny Feilhaber, who played with his brother Ryan at the youth level for Beachside Soccer Club in Connecticut.
“He has done a great job dealing with the rough times in his career,” said Tracy of Feilhaber. “He’s a really talented player and I enjoy watching him play.”
The January 23rd friendly vs. Honduras will offer Tracy and the rest of the forwards in camp a chance of strengthening their position for further matches. With the forward pool a bit on the thin side heading toward the World Cup, Tracy's name is likely to be thrown into the mix of potential candidates to make the World Cup.
Tracy has dialed down the expectations on his ability to be a member of Bob Bradley’s team in South Africa, and sees his first national team camp as more a chance to make a good first impression rather than a first step toward a World Cup.
“We have to be realistic, I’m just out here to work hard and learn," Tracy said. "If an opportunity comes up then great, but this is my first camp and the World Cup is in six months and so how likely is it that I get called up?” Tracy said. “You never know what could happen, but I’m trying to keep my expectations realistic so that I can work and improve.”