Mikey Lopez at 2013 MLS Combine
Andy Mead/MLSSoccer.com

Birthday boy Lopez hoping for MLS springboard

PUEBLA, Mexico – Sporting Kansas City draft pick Mikey Lopez stopped being a teenager on Wednesday and, if things go to plan, the first few months of his 20s promise to be huge for the midfielder.

Lopez is looking to help the United States to the U-20 World Cup, will join up with his new MLS club and then hope to make an impact at the big event in Turkey this June.

On Monday, he came off the bench in his team’s 2-1 win and added a sense of calmness to the American midfield at a point in the game when Haiti was pushing hard for an equalizer.

“I felt I played well, a solid 30 minutes coming off the bench,” is how Lopez described it to MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday.

The next challenge is Costa Rica on Friday and the former University North Carolina star would love his belated birthday present be for Tab Ramos to let him play from the get-go.

“It’s always the goal to start for the national team in an important game, but it’s up to the coaches and whatever the team needs,” related Lopez. “If I start then I’ll do my job, if not I’ll support my team on the bench and work hard if I come on.”

Dallas, TX native Lopez, whose father is from Reynosa, Tamaulipas and mother is from Monterrey, is focused on extending his stay in his parents’ homeland as long as possible, but can’t help looking forward to what awaits him when he returns north.

“I’m definitely excited to get to KC and see how it is, meet the fans and get with the team,” said Lopez. “I’m looking forward to everything coming up. I haven’t been to KC yet, I’ll get there whenever we’re finished here, hopefully March 3.”

He’s also looking to catch coach Peter Vermes eye in the U-20 tournament to help his chances of debuting for the Sporting first team as soon as possible.

“I’m definitely trying to use it to improve my game and as a platform to go into MLS,” he stated.