Marvell Wynne was being his usual coy, tight-lipped self, maintaining an even keel and refusing to be drawn out on the question of his international future.
"It's an honour to play for your country, obviously, and I'd like to go, but I don't really know if I'll get the chance," Wynne had told CBCSports.ca when asked if he expected to be on the plane for South Africa where the U.S. national team will compete in the FIFA Confederations Cup this month.
Maybe Wynne genuinely wasn't sure, or maybe he just didn't want to jinx it.
Either way, the quiet and reserved Toronto FC defender, noted for doing his talking on the field, was officially named to the U.S. roster on Sunday and will get the chance to compete against soccer super powers Italy and Brazil in the eight-team competition in South Africa.
Although Wynne might have been surprised by the national team call-up, Toronto FC coach Chris Cummins could see it coming, saying the 23-year-old defender warranted a place in the American squad after putting together a consistent string of impressive performances in the first half of the 2009 Major League Soccer season.
"Marvell's one of the best fullbacks in the league, and he will be a big loss for us," Cummins told CBCSports.ca.
Indeed, Wynne's national team commitment means he will miss Toronto's home game against the New York Red Bulls on June 13, and the team's Canadian club championship contest versus the Montreal Impact five days later.
Leaves a big gap
Wynne's absence couldn't have come at a worse time.
Toronto has lost its last three games overall, including a 2-1 decision to the L.A. Galaxy on Saturday. It's on the verge of elimination in the Canadian club championship and has slipped out of the playoff picture and into second-last place in the Eastern Conference.
While Cummins is genuinely happy for Wynne, he wouldn't have complained had the Toronto defender been overlooked by U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley.
"We were hoping he wouldn't [be named to the U.S. team] but it's a great opportunity to represent your country and we would never stand in anybody's way for that.… We probably won't see him again until [late June] which would be a massive loss for us, there's no doubt about it," Cummins conceded.
Toronto midfielder Carl Robinson echoed his coach's sentiments, saying the loss of Wynne is a big blow for the team because it doesn't have another natural right fullback.
"Marvell's got very good athleticism. He's strong. He gets up and down [the wing]. He's a very good attacking right back and adds width to our attack. He's a big miss for us," admitted Robinson.
Wynne is very much a fringe player with the American national team.
The Toronto defender played for the U.S. under-23 squad at last summer's Olympics in Beijing, but he only earned his second cap for the senior side last week in a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica — his first appearance came two years ago at the Copa America in a game against Argentina.
Still, Cummins believes the lightning-quick fullback, renowned for his attacking prowess, has the makings of an international-class defender who could become a regular starter for the U.S in South Africa.
"Marvell is a fantastic athlete. He provides a massive physical presence. He's a great athlete," said Cummins. "He has the ability to get up and down the wing with great speed. He [scores] goals, not very often, but every now and then, and his defensive covering is very good.
"He's got that athleticism to go make overlapping runs, to go join in [the attack] and he just gives people a problem because of his physical and athletic presence."