Miguel Ibarra isn't the first NASL player to be called up for his country. He's not even the first NASL player to be called up for his national team this month. When he's called into Jurge Klinnsman's squad for the upcoming friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras though, he'll be the first NASL player to be called into the US national team.
Given the quality that Klinnsman has at his disposal and the steadily increasing quality of play in MLS, it's somewhat surprising that the US manager has decided to look to the NASL in order to find talent to round out his squad. The fact that he's willing to do just that will certainly make headlines around the United States though, and should help lend notoriety to the talent that fans of the league already know is there.
Ibarra's story is similar to that of quite a few other players in the second division at the moment. He was drafted by the Portland Timbers, but did not impress enough in his early days with the club to be offered a contract with MLS. Minnesota United shrewdly added the talented youngster, and after the attacker settled in with his new club and teammates, he's become one of the elite players in the league.
Ibarra's story makes me wonder whether or not Danny Szetela has had any looks from Klinnsman and his staff, as like the Minnesota player, Szetela has really blossomed since joining the league last season. The Cosmos' midfielder plays a position in which the US has far more quality talent from which to choose than Ibarra, but the Cosmos' midfielder also has some history with the national team from the youth level before his injuries. The fact that Klinnsman is obviously willing to look beyond the fact that the level of competition in the NASL is still well below what's being seen in MLS and most smaller European leagues should be a promising sign for talented youngsters looking to cut their teeth in the NASL. Given that the Cosmos payroll seems to be respectable, that should give them at least a slight assist in keeping their better players when MLS sides come calling.
Hopefully, Ibarra goes on to play in at least one of the two friendlies, and does himself and the league proud. More importantly, let's hope this surprise callup lights a fire under some of New York's talented players, and helps spark a run of good form ahead of the playoffs.