PURCHASE, N.Y. – Will Tommy McNamara be the leader of the band for the Irish national team?
There is at least preliminary interest in the New York City FC midfielder from the Football Association of Ireland.
“I have an Irish passport. I’ve had it for almost 10 years now,” McNamara told MLSsoccer.com after training Thursday. “Someone from the FAI reached out and wanted to confirm whether I did have a passport or not.”
That inquiry, McNamara said, has been within the last year. The 25-year-old has dual citizenship because his grandfather on his father’s side was born in Ireland.
McNamara said he hasn’t heard from anyone at US Soccer and would be open to playing for either team.
“I think it’s an honor to represent the national team,” McNamara said. “Obviously I qualify for both and it would be an honor to represent either.”
McNamara said he hasn’t given that decision much thought because he’s busy with his day-to-day responsibilities in his second season with NYCFC. He has gotten off to a great start with two goals and one assist in four starts, meaning he is well on his way towards matching and surpassing his five-goal, three-assist breakout effort in 2015.
“He’s a player who plays football with thinking,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said. “He’s really clever, technically he’s really good on the ball, he’s a team player, a positive player. I like him as a player and I like him as a person.”
McNamara said he came into preseason “ready to go” and has made a positive adjustment to playing under Vieira.
“I’ve enjoyed it, what we’re trying to go, the identity we’re instilling into this team,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed learning the new systems and being asked to do different things than maybe I’ve been asked in the past.”
McNamara last visited Ireland in January 2010 and “enjoyed it a lot. I like the people.”
And like many other Irish Americans, he has followed both teams closely.
“I’ve always followed and supported the Irish national team as well as the US national team,” McNamara said. “I’ve watched almost every game for both national teams. I’ve followed and supported both national teams my entire life.”