New York Red Bulls midfielder Jonny Steele has been called up to the Northern Ireland national team for its upcoming friendly match against Turkey, the Irish Football Association announced last Friday, making it two Red Bulls players called up for senior international duty during the upcoming FIFA fixture date. Tim Cahill is the other Red Bulls call-up, and he will join Australia for its game against Costa Rica.
Steele, 27, will be hoping for his first international game action since the 2005 Milk Cup in Northern Ireland, when he played for the U-19 national team. Born in the northern county of Antrim, Steele began his soccer career with Wolverhampton Wanderers in England but has been plying his trade mostly in North America since signing with the United Soccer Leagues’ Syracuse Salty Dogs in 2004.
His career has taken him to club after club, including four indoor clubs and seven minor-league outdoor clubs, in the U.S., Canada, Northern Ireland, and Puerto Rico. Steele signed with Real Salt Lake in 2012, was released last December, and signed with the Red Bulls in February.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill announced the initial squad on November 5, but after several Irish players withdrew due to injury and the Red Bulls were eliminated from the postseason, Steele was added to the roster. With both Northern Ireland (fifth in UEFA Group F) and Turkey (fourth in UEFA Group D) eliminated from World Cup contention, the friendly – to be played in the southern Turkish city of Adana, less than 200 miles from Syria – is part of both teams’ preparations for Euro 2016 qualifying, which begins next fall.
Steele, who had five goals and six assists while starting 34 of New York’s 36 MLS and playoff games this year, was understandably proud and excited to get the call:
Cahill and Australia’s Socceroos will take on Costa Rica at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on November 19 as part of both teams’ preparations for the 2014 World Cup. Cahill has made 64 prior appearances for Australia, scoring 28 goals, and scored for his country in each of the last two World Cups.