Jonathan Spector has a very special international engagement on Thursday night as he bids to help the United States qualify for this summer's Olympics.
The US Under-23 side will take on Canada in Nashville, Tennessee in the semi-finals of the 2008 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualification tournament with the winners earning a place at the Beijing Games. Guatemala will meet Honduras in the other semi-final for the other Olympic spot on offer. However, Spector will not stick around to play in either Sunday's third-place game or the final as his role is simply to help secure the key objective of Olympic qualification
Peter Nowak's US side came through a qualifying phase last weekend to reach this stage and managed the feat without Spector, who was on club duty helping West Ham United to defeat Blackburn Rovers. He then flew to join up with his compatriots and will head back to England straight after the international match against the US's old North American rivals to join up with his club-mates for the away fixture against Everton on Saturday evening.
"Logistically it is a bit difficult," Spector told the matchday programme. "I have to make it back for Everton and my flight will only get in the day before the game. There's more importance placed on the Olympics in the United States. Being an Olympian is a great honour and any time I am able to represent my country's it's also a great honour. I'm really looking forward to it."
Spector is not the only talented youngster on view with the US also calling upon the likes of Toronto defender Marvell Wynne, Columbus Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven, Benfica attacker Freddy Adu and New York Red Bulls sensation Jozy Altidore. The 22-year-old Spector has made 22 league appearances this season and will hope to keep his place alongside Anton Ferdinand when United go to Goodison Park, although Matthew Upson and James Tomkins are also in contention.