CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy’s Dan Keat still vividly recalls walking out with the New Zealand Under-20 national team at Toronto’s National Stadium for the 2007 U-20 FIFA World Cup. He tried to soak in the atmosphere and bask in the thrill of representing his country at the international level.
The 24-year-old native of Wellington, New Zealand will get that opportunity again, but this time with the senior national team, for a friendly against Jamaica on Feb. 29 at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland. Keat will leave on Feb. 25 during the Galaxy’s upcoming training stay in Tucson, Ariz., and said he is deeply thankful for the call-up.
WATCH: Keat scores in preseason match
“Obviously you’re hopeful but you never know when these things are going to happen,” he said. “You always want to represent your country, I think, as a footballer and as a proud New Zealander.
“It’s great for football in New Zealand, to get some headlines away from rugby,” he added with a sly grin.
Keat, who said he captained the New Zealand side “for a few games” in the 2007 U-20 World Cup, also was on the Under-23 squad that qualified for the Beijing Olympics. Keat, however, injured his knee just before the Games and was unable to play.
The third overall pick in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft, Keat also has 28 career appearances with Team Wellington in the New Zealand Football Championships.
Galaxy teammate and fellow New Zealander Andrew Boyens, who has 19 appearances with the national team, said he is confident Keat will do well later this month.
“I think knowing Dan, he’s such a professional guy in how he approaches training every day, and going into the international stage is definitely a step up,” he said. “But the way he approaches football he’ll have no trouble.
“It’s always a bit different. You travel 12 hours and you arrive two days before a game. Then you go out there and play against a very good Jamaica team. It’s quite a special occasion and an honor to play for your country, but Dan has such a good head on his shoulders I think he’ll take it all in stride.”
Said Keat, “Anytime you put on the national team jersey, whether it’s in the age group or the full national team I think there’s a huge amount of pride involved and you want to go out and represent your family and country well.
“It’s going to be a great experience. I’m looking forward to showing them what I can do.”