Over the past two-and-a-half years Corey Ashe has quietly turned into one of the best left backs in MLS and now even USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann has taken notice.
Ashe will get a shot to show Klinsmann what he can do up close and in-person, after US Soccer announced on Thursday morning that Ashe has been called in for the team’s friendly match against Belgium on May 29.
But Ashe never imagined his first career U.S. call-up would come at left back.
“It is a little surreal because if you’d have asked me a few years ago, ‘Hey, do you see yourself playing left back and getting a call-up?’ I would’ve told you no chance,” Ashe told MLSsoccer.com Thursday morning. “To be put back there for a game as an experiment – and fortunately, it worked out – is pretty awesome. It feels like a lot of the work I’ve put in has finally paid off.”
Ashe has become one of MLS’ best defenders, routinely going toe-to-toe with some of the league’s best, including international stars like Kei Kamara and Landon Donovan, and more than holding his own.
Now he gets a chance to wet his feet in the US player pool before returning to his club in time for the June 1 match in Columbus. To help him acclimate to USMNT camp, Ashe will have his current teammate Brad Davis, and a close friend to rely on in former roommate and ex-Dynamo teammate Geoff Cameron.
“I'm really proud of him and happy that White Chocolate has been reunited,” Cameron said through a Dynamo spokesperson, referencing his nickname for the pair. “Corey has been playing really well and he has proven over the past year that he is one of the best left backs in MLS. I think Jurgen sees the potential that Corey has and that is why he is giving him this opportunity to work his way into the squad."
Ashe isn't getting ahead of himself. Just as he did on the MLS level, he knows he'll have to show he belongs at the international level. But he's pragmatic about the challenge that awaits him.
“I talked to Jurgen and he said it’s really not a pressure situation,” Ashe said. “I get to go in and meet the guys and see what everything’s about and see what kind of coach he is and the style they play.
"The biggest thing is I’m just trying to go there and learn as much as possible. If I get to play, that’s awesome. But I just want to learn as much as possible from the guys and go from there.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.