Hearts captain Perry Kitchen hoping for rare USA chance on return to old stomping ground



Hearts captain Perry Kitchen is hoping to kick-start his career with the USA national team with a return to his old stomping ground.

The 24-year-old, who replaced Alim Ozturk as the new club skipper last month, is yet to make a competitive appearance for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side and was an unused substitute in Friday’s 2-0 friendly win in Cuba.

The Americans host New Zealand on Tuesday at Washington’s RFK stadium in a warm-up match ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica.

(Pic: Twitter @ussoccer)
(Pic: Twitter @ussoccer)

Kitchen returns to familiar surroundings this evening with the defensive midfielder, who has four caps, having played for DC United for four years prior to moving to Tynecastle in March, and is hoping for a rare chance to impress.

Kitchen, speaking to ESPN FC, said: “It’s a huge opportunity, just like all the games are when you’re here.

“Especially being at my old home stadium, there’s a little extra to it. So if I get the chance to come on, it will be exciting.

“When those chances come, I hope that I’m ready.

“It’s always up to Jurgen and the staff what they want to do. I have to respect that and just do what I can when my name’s called.

“I think it’s how you take each situation and try to make the most of it.

“It’s just playing my game, doing what I can, and ultimately, it’s up to Jurgen and the staff on how they want to arrange the team. But the main thing is staying involved.

“I think my career has been more of a journey, as opposed to some guys who break through the ranks just like that.

“I understand that you just have to make the most of your opportunities and not get frustrated if things aren’t going your way because that’s part of the challenge.”

Even though Kitchen insists the Scottish Premiership and the MLS are of similar standard, the Indianapolis-born player believes moving abroad has helped him improve.

He added: “I think playing overseas has put me out of my comfort zone, in terms of what I’ve been used to.

“Living in a new country, moving into a new team is always a difficult adjustment. Saying that, I feel like those off-the-field things have kind of helped me better myself on the field.

“When you’re not familiar with the culture, your surroundings, you go back to soccer as, ‘That’s what I do know.’

“You realise that this is your life, your setup, and you try to make the most of it. Soccer is what we all know, so you try to make sure that’s at the top.

“I’d say it’s (the standard of the Premiership) similar to the MLS. There’s not a lot of time on the ball. It’s 100 miles per hour at times.”

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