Shortly before Christmas, Daniel Lovitz received a call from new U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter, informing him he would be part of the team’s January Camp roster. Twenty-seven years old and with five seasons in Major League Soccer, it was the left back’s first National Team summons at any level, and so perhaps understandably he had trouble putting it into words for his parents.
“I called to let them know what was going on, but I couldn’t talk properly on the phone when I was trying to explain it to them,” Lovitz told ussoccer.com. “It was still so fresh in my mind trying to get through it, let alone telling two people that have been my biggest supporters. That was a really humbling experience. I had to call them back again to really explain it all because I couldn’t pull it together the first time.”
Though long holding the goal of a National Team call-up, Lovitz also admitted it wasn’t at the forefront of his mind this offseason. When it came, he had to cut short a trip to Colombia with some college buddies to make sure he was ready for camp. The 27-year-old was the oldest of eight MNT camp newbies to arrive at the team’s training base Jan. 6 in Chula Vista.
“I came in as one of the older new guys in this camp. I guess I stand out in that way,” he said. “These guys all know each other from previous National Team camps, but I just know everybody from MLS – playing with a few of them and against a lot of the guys here. This camp, especially, having guys that are familiar with each other makes things pretty easy. It’s really helped with the group dynamic. From what I can tell, everyone is on the same page and has just been willing to work. That’s an awesome thing to have.”
A surprise selection for some, he began his career as a wing midfielder before finding a home at left back with the Montreal Impact the past two years and fits the profile of what Berhalter was looking for as he went about implementing a new style of play for the team this month.
“I think the style we’re working on is really interesting and fits me well,” Lovitz said. “As we move the ball from one side to the other and to be very quick in the way we transition that and to be able to unbalance opponents and attack them with speed, that’s something I’ve been able to do [in midfield] for a long time. To do it in a different system and different position on the field has been an adjustment, but one that I embrace.”
Three weeks after entering his first MNT camp, Lovitz’s embrace and work in the system has him on the cusp of another milestone – a potential international debut in Sunday’s 2019 opener against Panama at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
“As we embark on this new journey as a team and country, and have a new coach and system, I think it energizes everyone. I’m pumped. It’s an exciting time to be part of such a meaningful project. I think you can look for energy, I think you can look for guys talking and enjoying playing with each other and competing more than anything.”