Midfielder Ethan Finlay had a standout club season in 2015 with Columbus Crew SC, earning MLS All-Star and Best XI honors while helping his team reach the MLS Cup final. The individual success caught the attention of MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who called Finlay in to his first senior team camp this month.
Finlay is one of 10 players in camp seeking his first cap as the team prepares for friendlies against Iceland on Jan. 31 and Canada on Feb. 5 at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
“It was a great season with Columbus Crew SC and individually I had a lot of success,” Finlay told ussoccer.com. “I’m really excited having this opportunity to be here. Soccer’s all about having your ups and downs mentally, and you can’t get caught too high or too low. I’m just taking everything in stride.”
On the club level, the 25-year-old followed up a productive 2014 campaign in which he notched 11 goals and seven assists by surpassing those stats in each category (12 goals, 13 assists) in 2015. That performance put him in elite company as one of only four players to register double-digit totals in both offensive categories last year in MLS. He also notched one goal in five playoff matches as Columbus advanced to the league’s championship game, where they fell to the Portland Timbers 2-1 in December.
Despite having never played with the U.S. National Team on any level, the Marshfield, Wisconsin, native is quickly adapting to the MNT environment alongside Crew SC teammates Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani.
“You see how much more important consistency is every day, whether it be a two-a-day or a single session,” Finlay said of his first week with the MNT. “Being consistent and being alert, it’s that much more demanding at this level. Obviously everyone is a little bit better coming from the club level to this level. I think you have to be aware of that. Speed of play is always going to be higher throughout, so it’s something you have to get used to, but it’s making me a better player.”