When head coach Gregg Berhalter revealed the players who will attend his first camp in charge of the United States men’s national team on Dec. 20, the former Columbus Crew SC coach left a piece of his camp puzzle dangling after announcing 27 names – the 28th member would be disclosed on a future date.
Berhalter divulged the name Friday: New York City FC winger Jonathan Lewis. He will be one of 13 players in the January camp eager to earn their first caps.
Lewis was a valued reserve when the U.S. under-20s won the 2017 Concacaf Championship.
The selection of the Plantation, Fla., native is curious. Berhalter, like Lewis’ NYCFC managers Dome Torrent and Patrick Vieira, has a predilection for cerebral players. The primary criticism by both coaches in the Bronx has been Lewis’ limited tactical acumen. A U.S. Soccer scout once suggested that Lewis, although a gifted athlete with electrifying pace, was one-dimensional.
Perhaps not coincidental as the final selection, Lewis excelled in a season-high 35 minutes against Berhalter and Columbus on July 14 at Yankee Stadium. The 21-year-old substitute was captivating in the attacking half and assisted on Jesus Medina’s game-winner in the 80th minute. In addition, Lewis neatly pushed a first-time pass under pressure into the path of Anton Tinnerholm, who ultimately finished his chance to clinch the 2-0 victory in the final moments.
In a 2-1 loss at Columbus on Sept. 1, Lewis was reduced to 11 reserve minutes.
The Columbus appearances were two of only 14 in 2018 for the Akron product who was fruitful in his limited minutes. He had three goals and four assists. Lewis, who was the MVP of the 2017 MLS Combine and third overall selection in the MLS SuperDraft, has appeared in 25 career matches with five goals and five assists.
Lewis will join New York City teammate Sean Johnson, one of four goalkeepers summoned by Berhalter. Players will report to Chula Vista, Calif., on Jan. 6. The opening match of the 2019 campaign will be against Panama on Jan. 27 , followed by Costa Rica Feb. 2.