BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
PERRY KITCHEN has already become Hearts’ captain America – now he is determined to win over national boss Jurgen Klinsmann on the road to the 2018 World Cup.
Kitchen, 24, succeeded the out-of-favour Alim Ozturk as Jambos skipper last month after enjoying a blistering start to his Hearts career since his arrival in March, with the former DC United star immediately cementing his starting berth.
And a dream fortnight for the combative midfielder was capped on Monday when it was confirmed that he has been recalled to the United States squad for the upcoming friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand.
Kitchen, who made the cut for the Copa America in the summer, was omitted by Klinsmann for the World Cup qualifiers against Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in September but now looks set to add to his four caps.
As he outlined his desire to lift some silverware with Hearts and heaped praise on his teammates and coaches at Tynecastle, he will now turn his attention to impressing Klinsmann.
He said: “It’s always up to Jurgen [Klinsmann] and his staff whether or not I get called up. I just have to control what I can over here – which is playing well and doing what I can for the team. Hopefully, that gets their attention.
“My personal goals are just to continue improving as a player and be the best I can to help my team win.
“For Hearts, we want to continue to build upon last year. We finished third last season so we want to try and get above that and also lift some trophies as that’s always your goal, as a player and as a team.
“It’s been a good transition so far. Everyone at the club’s been very welcoming, from the staff to my teammates to the coaches. So it’s been a pretty easy adjustment so far.
“Life over here is great. The Scottish people are great people and it’s been a good adjustment.”
Kitchen was named DC United’s Most Valuable Player following a sensational Major League Soccer campaign in 2013 and has previously attracted interest from Germany and Belgian giants Anderlecht.
Having excelled in MLS, Kitchen reckons there are similarities with his new surroundings in the Scottish Premiership.
“To be honest it’s fairly similar to MLS. It’s very fast paced,” Kitchen told ussoccerplayers.com. “You don’t have a lot of time on the ball which is comparable to MLS, except in the summer months in the MLS when it obviously slows down a bit.
“Overall, it’s a tough league to play in, just as the MLS is.”
Meanwhile, Klinsmann has urged those who feature in the historic clash with Cuba – the first time the U.S. national team have played in Havana – or against New Zealand to make the most of their opportunity.
Klinsmann added: “There’s a lot at stake for the players to make their case, to show where they are right now.
“We have the opportunity to bring some players back that haven’t been with us for a little bit, and we want to see if they can put a stamp on this camp and have a chance for being in the roster next month.
“The bigger picture behind this is definitely Mexico and Costa Rica, and these two games will show us a lot about individual players.”