Chris Mueller capped off an impressive 2020 season with Orlando City SC on Wednesday night by making his U.S. men's national team debut in a 6-0 win over El Salvador, scoring twice and picking up Man of the Match honors. The 24-year-old forward, who led Orlando with 10 goals in 22 MLS matches this season, is a product of both Des Moines Menace and Chicago FC United in USL League Two.
Mueller's appearance made him the 80th League Two product to represent the USMNT. His strong performances throughout the season may put him in contention for further inclusion in national team camps down the line.
“What I saw this year in Orlando was just him having a little bit more guidance with his movement, with his running,” USMNT Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said after the win. “He always was a guy that gave you great effort, but this year in particular, I felt that you could see there was more of an understanding of where he needed to run, when he needed to run. That's going to be important at this level as well. The difference is the margins are really small at the international level, you have to be smart with your movement and really good timing with your movements, so we're happy with Chris. It was nice for him to cap off a strong year with a performance like this tonight.”
Mueller's two-goal debut performance earned him Man of the Match honors / Graphic from @USMNT on Twitter
Mueller's first goal on 20 minutes showed a good bit of composure to find space and finish in the box, putting the U.S. up 2-0. It only took him five minutes to bag another from a quality diving header.
With a packed 2021 calendar ahead, Mueller will hope to earn more chances to prove he can perform at the international level in the future. But for now, he remains focused on performing to the best of his ability and letting the rest fall into place as it will.
“As far as me trying to break in, I'm not going to do anything different,” Mueller said. “I'm going to just continue to try and learn, take things day by day. I know that this is a process and I've said that multiple times that it's just patience with it and continuing to work, continuing to believe. We'll see what happens from here. Obviously it's my first step. I played one game and we obviously got a good win, and let's just keep moving, let's keep seeing what happens.”