March 18, 2013
By Charles Cuttone
ANSWERING THE CALL
Daniel, Soumaré on National Team duty during Philadelphia Union's bye week
National Team call-ups can sometimes have a harsh affect on Major League Soccer teams, especially since the league quite often plays through FIFA dates despite the fact that teams have lost many of their top players.
|Keon Daniel has joined the Trinidad & Tobago National Team for a pair of friendlies.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
That won’t be the case for the Philadelphia Union next weekend, however. Although Keon Daniel has departed to join Trinidad & Tobago for friendlies against Belize on March 22 and Peru on March 26, and defender Bakary Soumare has been summoned by Mali for a March 22 World Cup qualifier against Rwanda, the team has a bye from MLS play and instead will take on Pumas of Liga MX.
Union Team Manager John Hackworth says Soumare's call-up, despite the fact that he has not played a minute for the Union so far this season, is indicative of the kind of quality player the veteran back is, and also of the depth that is developing on the Union squad.
"I’m really happy for Baky to get a call up, although he is not playing with us right now, in games," said Hackworth "Baky has done well here. If it wasn’t for Amobi Okugo playing so well Baky would be on the field. Sometimes it’s hard to understand that…It’s not that Baky isn’t in good form, it’s because we have two guys in front of him who are playing well. I alluded to that competition all preseason, so we are now eight weeks in and you have a guy like Baky who has got a call up to the national team, that’s reflective of our depth."
Hackworth says Soumare, who signed with the Union in June of last year but only saw action in one game due to a knee injury for which he had surgery in September, could easily be starting were it not for the strength he feels the Union has on defense.
"Just coach’s decision is what it comes down to," Hackworth said. "I can tell you that Baky is not exactly happy with that decision, and I wouldn’t expect any player to be. The fact is he’s a good pro. He comes to work every day. He does everything we ask of him, and at the end of the day, we have to make tough choices."
Soumaré has made 13 appearances for Mali since making his debut in 2009, starting in a 4-0 victory over Angola in an international friendly. Soumaré also has appeared for his country in several 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches and the 2010 African Cup of Nations, starting two games during the tournament.
Unlike Soumaré, Daniel has been in top form for the Union.
"I think it's well deserved," Hackworth said of Daniel's call-up. "I watched Trinidad & Tobago through the last World Cup cycle a lot. In my opinion, their best player. I would say he’s playing his most consistent and best soccer right now, so that bodes well for his transition to the national team. "
Daniel was preparing for his departure to join the Soca Warriors following Saturday's 1-0 win over the New England Revolution.
"It’s always an honor since I’ve been a young guy looking at my national team thinking one day I am going to be playing for them," said Daniel of being called up "And since its come to pass every time I get the chance to play for them I will take it. It is a privilege. I think all the guys would like to be in my spot, when you get a chance to play for the national team, I just keep enjoying it and do the best that I can."
Daniel has made 52 appearances and scored 13 goals for Trinidad and Tobago since making his debut in 2007. In the opening round of the Caribbean Cup last October, he netted a first-half hat trick in T&T’s 10-0 trouncing of Anguilla, and a goal in their 4-1 win over French Guyana. He also played 82 minutes in a 1-0 win against St. Kitts and Nevis.