Tommy Smith has been added to the New Zealand National Team roster ahead of their friendlies on Thursday, November 14th against Ireland and Sunday, November 17th against Lithuania. He joins two other MLS players on the 24-man roster: Bill Tuiloma of the Portland Timbers and Michael Boxall of Minnesota United FC, both defenders as well. Smith has 36 caps and two goals for New Zealand.
“It’s exciting in that I had to make some really tough decisions and leave out players that are operating at a high level, which is a good sign for the future,” said new Head Coach Danny Hay. “One of the most important things is getting those senior players on board and making sure they’re really clear with the direction we’re heading and are 100% invested in it. They’re going to be vital for setting the tone and influencing how the younger players come into the environment and what that environment actually looks like going forward.”
These matches are Hay’s debut as head coach of the national team, so the pressure is on. After Anthony Hudson left NZ to coach the Rapids, Fritz Schmid took over for 2018-2019. Schmid signed a four-year deal but surprisingly resigned after just 16 months and four games. Neil Emblen, who followed Hudson to the Rapids as an assistant coach, is going back to the NZ National Team to coach with Hay.
Before the announcement, Smith had gone home and was interviewed by his former club, Ipswich Town FC: