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Lichaj is in a unique position on the 22-man roster assembled by interim manager Dave Sarachan ahead of the Memorial Day friendly with Bolivia at Talen Energy Stadium. He and fellow outside back Jorge Villafana are the only players on the roster born before 1990. At 16 caps for Villafana and 14 for Lichaj, they rank second and third, respectively, in seniority.

“I’m pretty sure me and Jorge might be the only ones with kids in this camp,” he said. “Everyone’s really quite young, so it’s just a different aspect and I don’t mind stepping into that role, showing them what I’ve learned over the years of being with the national team and just little things, being a professional and how to conduct yourself around the city and the hotel and what it means wearing the badge.

“These are guys that have perspective and have been in it a lot longer,” Sarachan said of his two veteran defenders. “That’s a very important piece to the roster build, is to have guys like them continually in their ear to remind them what this is about.”

The impact for Lichaj is twofold. Sarachan’s imperative at the helm has been to integrate young players that will comprise the next generation that moves past the debacle of failing to qualify for this summer’s World Cup finals. But to effectively grow into that requires a sprinkling of veterans to help show the ropes, rather than pit a full Under-23 side against grown men, even in friendlies. That’s one role that Lichaj can serve, especially around a young but talented central defense pairing like Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga.

“Any time I get called into the U.S. national team or a U.S. camp, I don’t take it for granted,” Lichaj said. “It’s something that hopefully I’m giving a good impression to the coaches in how I conduct myself. I’m just hoping to continue that and hopefully I can play as many games as I can. I know there’s a very bright future.”

The call also arrives at an unusual time for Lichaj. He had an up-and-down season at Nottingham Forest, his fifth with the club in the second tier of England. He was limited to 21 appearances, his fewest in a season with Forest after making at least 40 each of the last three years.

He grabbed international attention with a pair of goals, including a stunning volley, in an FA Cup tie with Arsenal, eliminating the holders in the third round. More importantly, the brace cajoled Lichaj’s wife, Kathryn, to allow the couple to get a dog after promising they would get one if the offensively-challenged defender scored a hat trick this season.

Meanwhile, Lichaj has struggled. His season was derailed by a three-match suspension after a red card in a league match against Burton Albion Feb. 17. He played just two more games the rest of the season, unable to sustain a place in new manager Aitor Karanka’s side.

That introduces a sizeable doze of uncertainty to his future, which has resided in England for the last nine seasons, starting in the Premier League with Aston Villa from 2007-13. He’s under contract for 2018-19, a deal which reportedly carries a vesting option for the following season based on games played. But he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to MLS down the line, recalling fond memories of playing for Chicago Fire Premier and watching the pro club that included DaMarcus Beasley, Peter Nowak and current Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin.