Steve Purdy
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Purdy excited for Gold Cup opportunity with El Salvador

While his Portland Timbers teammates prepared today to take on D.C. United, defender Steve Purdy, set out last week on another interesting and exciting chapter of his career. Drafted by FC Dallas, then spending time with Munich 1860 reserves, later starring with the Division 2 edition of the Timbers, then signed to the MLS squad, Purdy has since been named to the El Salvador National Team for the 2011 Gold Cup.

For Purdy, it has been quite a journey.

“For me it’s a great honor to represent the country,” said Purdy. “To go over there and show myself and to be a part of a great tournament with some great teams in this region, I think it’s just going to be a great challenge for me, for my team, and hopefully we can do well.”

Born in California, Purdy had played in U.S. national teams at the youth level. However, given his Salvadoran parents, he was also eligible for the El Salvador team. Invited to La Selecta earlier this season but unable to go due to too many injuries on the Timbers, this Gold Cup opportunity marks his first chance to play.

After spending the past week training in El Salvador, Purdy and team returned to the U.S. to play a warm-up friendly against Honduras today in Houston, TX at Robertson Stadium. Their Gold Cup campaign then kicks off against CONCACAF superpower Mexico in Dallas Cowboys Stadium on June 5.

“I think [Cowboys Stadium is] just going to be a great atmosphere with 80,000 people," said Purdy. "It’s going to be a game that I’ve never really been a part of so it’s going to be good to experience those games and just be able to play against some of the best players in the world. I think it’s just going to be a great challenge and hopefully we can do well in them.”

El Salvador head coach Ruben Israel has built a squad primarily of Salvadoran domestic league players though there is one name on the roster that is familiar both to MLS fans and to Purdy: Real Salt Lake midfielder Arturo Alvarez.

“We actually grew up playing in the youth national team together for America and now we’re finding ourselves on the same team with El Salvador,” said Purdy. “It’s kind of funny how that works.”

Though Israel has not yet said where he wants Purdy to play, his fleet and solid style could prove to be a great weapon in the high profile Gold Cup tournament. Regardless of position, Purdy is prepared.

“I’m still waiting exactly where [coach Israel] wants me to play, if he wants me to play in the center or on the side,” said Purdy. “Wherever he puts me, I feel that I can give it my all and help out the team.”