USMNT 26 Stories: Haji Wright

By | November 19, 2022

A former Youth National Team standout, Haji Wright talks about his journey from the U.S. youth teams to a spot on the 2022 FIFA World Cup team. Wright was part of a current crop of USMNT players who were all part of the youth programs and grew up as friends, forming a special bond. That friendship has carried through some of the ups and downs of a career in Europe and trying to make it at the highest levels of the sport. Now Wright will line up alongside his friends and World Cup teammates as the USA takes the field in Qatar. “26 Stories,” presented by Volkswagen.

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I'm Ray and I'm a Ford for the U.S Men's National Team This is a crazy picture Um This was after we qualified for the u17 World Cup we were in I think it was Honduras Loads of players starting dying their Hair and I was one of them and looking Back at it now looks terrible it's Probably like the worst haircut I've Ever had But um I remember this moment having One-on penalties against Jamaica at that Moment it was the peak of my career I really wanted to make The Residency Program it was like a goal of mine at That time and it was just really Exciting for me being called into Residency it was the first real Taste of freedom in a way moving across The country with my friends had a Both of the ballistics at that time so Christian and his cousin will in my room Me and will shared a room in a we're Always together me him Christian from Eating to going to school to playing Video games watching Gossip Girl we did It all together and I think it was a Very formative experience for me in my Life and my soccer career I remember being In contact with the clubs from Germany And I realized which club I was going to

Sign for and me and my 10 other guys are In the room and we were just playing Music and like having a good time like We always do and I just started crying Because I realized I wasn't gonna be Able to see everybody every day and kind Of like indifferent about going to Europe because I knew I'd be leaving all My friends my culture the language that I speak behind and how to have to face a New challenge and at that point I was Really scared Foreign Training camp in Spain with the first Too much folka it was just ridiculous I Think I was playing with players who Were seasoned Pros in the Bundesliga and I'd be on the opposite team trying to Defend them trying to attack against Them and I just was having no luck and I Realized like yeah these guys they're at A different level than me right now I think I was unsure about myself for a Lot of reasons And it kind of showed on the field that Attributed to the reason why I would Bounce around so often a year here a Year there before I finally uh found my Feet and was able to perform on the Pitch it installed toughness and a grit Inside of me that allowed me to go along The path that I went into From Germany to the Netherlands and then Due to Denmark and then out in Turkey I

Think I've worked extremely hard in the Last Two years two and a half years to try And make this dream a possibility Originally I thought he was calling to Like let me down easily And I had already mentally prepared for The discussion and how it was going to Go when I actually got on the phone with Him I didn't realize he was FaceTiming Me at first I was like oh I put the Phone with my ear like a normal call and He's like I can't see you I realize it's A FaceTime And then I saw him and I was like you Look kind of happy also it's kind of Weird if you're happy to let me down but Eventually he told me the news and I was Just like completely shell-shocked at First I sat for like How long it was it felt like an eternity Just in silence just like grinning from Ear to ear like thinking about my whole Journey up until now I remember us all Being at the u17 World Cup together in Chile And even that for us at that time was a Very big moment now fast forwarding five Years later Being at the real thing it's just like It's crazy how it all came back together It's just It's kind of indescribable my feeling When I put on the Jersey and um

It's just really like Amazing to be where I'm at today and to See how far I've come