USA’s Miazga works hard to sustain rapid rise

Defender Matt Miazga (right) played in four matches for the USA at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

MIAMI SHORES, Florida -- It’s already been a memorable 2016 for Matt Miazga and he wants it to continue by being included on the final United States roster for June’s Copa America Centenario.

In January, the 20-year-old was transferred from hometown club New York Red Bulls to English-giant Chelsea. While many observers were of the opinion that Miazga would have to wait in a lengthy line for an opportunity to get on the pitch or perhaps be loaned out to gain experience, he ultimately earned playing time in two Premier League games.

Settling quickly into his London surroundings proved to be beneficial and decreased the adaptation time.

“I wouldn’t say it was a big adjustment, but obviously the pace is faster,” Miazga said of his move, before a training session at Barry University ahead of the USA’s international friendly at Puerto Rico on Sunday. “The players are better so you always have to be focused. You have to think two steps ahead at all times before you get the ball. There’s no time to think before you get the ball and thinking about the plays before they happen because everything’s so fast.”

The 6-foot-3 defender is hoping that competing with and against some of the world’s best on a daily basis will have bolstered his game enough to impress U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

“My goal right now is to train as hard as I can and show the coach that I’m deserving of a spot in the Copa America,” said Miazga, who has a battle to be included on the 23-man selection.

The competition for places in the squad is fierce. Fellow defenders Geoff Cameron and DeAndre Yedlin also played in England this past season with Stoke City and Sunderland, respectively, while Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin) and Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca) hold valued positions within their clubs. Miazga, though, is not deterred by the fact that he’s the only one of that group without World Cup experience.

“The final roster’s not set yet, so I’m just going to try to continue and play fast, think quick, play good football and show that I can play at a high level,” he finished. “I’ve been training with a lot of great players.”

The kind of players belonging to an esteemed club in which Miazga would like to be considered worthy of membership one day.