When New York City FC winger Jonathan Lewis earned his first international call-up in January, he figured the communication from U.S. Soccer while on vacation was fantasy.
Less stunning was the news released today that Lewis and his club teammate Sean Johnson have both been summoned to their second straight camp by U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter.
“I just got the email in the middle of the night and I was like, wait, I thought it was a joke at first,” Lewis told Pro Soccer USA before his call-up to January camp. “But then I realized that, wow, this is serious.”
Lewis was influential in his initial performances at the international level recording two assists while earning his first two caps as a reserve for the USMNT.
“What we saw was he did make an impact for us coming off the bench,” Berhalter said in a media conference call on Tuesday. “Both games he had assists and that’s what we asked of him. It’s hard for me not to reward a player when he gives a coach exactly what was asked of him.”
Lewis assisted on a Christian Ramirez goal to help the U.S. to a 3-0 win over Panama while using a near identical move on the left wing to serve up Sebastian Lleget’s finish in a 2-0 result against Costa Rica.
This is Berhalter’s second camp as head coach with friendlies scheduled against Ecuador on March 21 at Orlando City Stadium followed by South American champions Chile on March 26 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
Johnson’s selection in January ended an 18-month absence from the national team program. The 10-year MLS goalkeeper got his sixth cap as a 74th minute substitute for Zack Steffen to finish off the clean sheet versus Panama and was on the bench, but did not appear in the Costa Rica match.
“What really impressed me in January camp was his mentality,” Berhalter said. “And you see he translated that into performances early in the year.”
Prior to the January camp, Berhalter explained why he had chosen the 6-foot-3 Johnson.
“It’s more seeing his transformation in playing with his feet,” Berhalter said. “In Chicago, he was not that comfortable with his feet. When Patrick (Vieira) took over and brought him in (to NYCFC), he improved.”
Johnson played his first seven seasons with the Fire before a trade to New York City under Patrick Vieira. Dome Torrent replaced Vieira in mid-June of 2018 after the former French international accepted the manager’s position at Nice in France’s Ligue 1.
In addition to Lewis and Johnson, NYCFC center back Alexander Callens will look to add onto his 11 caps for Peru when they play a pair of friendlies against Parguay and El Salvador.