KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Depending on how fast his FIFA paperwork goes through, Soony Saad could soon be a cap-tied, US-born, Lebanese international.
If not, the Sporting Kansas City forward still has plenty to keep him occupied with his club in the thick of a playoff race and on the verge of qualifying for the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.
“I don't know why it's taking so long. Maybe it's the process,” Saad told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “I don't think it's bothering me right now because I'm in a good spot with Sporting, so I'm happy with where I'm at. So if it doesn't go down, I'm still focused on my club team.”
The Michigan-born Saad, a former US youth international, has blossomed into a regular starter and has four goals and four assists in his third season with Sporting. He has already represented Lebanon once, scoring on his debut for Les Cedres in a 1-1 friendly draw against Oman on May 29, but a delay in the processing of his one-time switch kept him from taking part in subsequent World Cup qualifying action.
Saad was not called in for friendlies last month against Syria and Qatar but is expected to get the call for a friendly against Iraq on Tuesday and an Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait a week later.
He likely won't go, though, if his paperwork doesn't clear in time for the qualifying match.
“I know coach [Peter Vermes] would give me some good advice, and I know he wouldn't hold me back,” Saad said. “But if it's just a friendly and I wouldn't get called to the qualifier, then I know it's important I stay here and maximize my playing time for Sporting.”
If the switch goes through, Saad will have a decision to make.
“I'm not really thinking about it too much,” he said. “Maybe I should. I feel fine. I'm not nervous about it, and I know that playing for any national team is going to be a fantastic feeling and I'll be proud of it.”
But just to be sure, he wants to spend some time in Lebanon's camp before making the final call.
“If it doesn't happen, then I'm still focused on Sporting,” he said. “If it does, then I'll have to go there and try to see where things are at over there and see if I like it.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.