America or All Whites - Tyler's tough choice
Dual passport holder Tyler Boyd is keeping his options open as he weighs up whether to make himself available for the All Whites or the United States.
The Tauranga-born 19-year-old has impressed coming off the bench for the Phoenix this season and enjoyed a breakout game on New Year's Day against the Wanderers, scoring his first A-League goal and laying on another.
The striker represented New Zealand at last year's under-20 World Cup but still has the option of playing for the US, where he lived as a child.
"I've got American parents and I've got an American passport so at this stage I'm not sure," Boyd said.
"I'll just keep my options open. I'm not sure if they're [US Soccer] aware that I can play for America but at this stage I'm not too worried. I consider New Zealand my home so that [the All Whites] would probably be a good opportunity but at this stage I don't know. I'll just keep my focus on A-League at the moment."
Pacy and skilful, Boyd is nipping hard at Jeremy Brockie's heels for a start in Saturday's home game against the Melbourne Victory.
He was relishing the clear instructions from coach Ernie Merrick, who had asked him to focus on getting in behind defenders and work on his movement off the ball.
Boyd rooms with Stein Huysegems on away trips and said the experienced Belgian striker was an ideal role model.
"We've got a good relationship and I guess it shows on the field. He loves helping out the youngsters and he's taken me under his wing. He's a great professional on and off the field and it's great to learn from."
The Phoenix were beaten 3-2 by the Victory in November, their high defensive line allowing Kevin Muscat's men to score three times in the opening half an hour at Etihad Stadium.
Merrick said his back four would again try to push up on Saturday, but they needed to do it smarter.
"I thought in the first half we played a very low line against the Mariners [in Sunday's 1-1 draw]. So the first section of training [yesterday] was all about pushing a higher line, taking some risks, judging when they're going to play a through ball and getting back quickly."
The coach said fullbacks Manny Muscat and Michael Boxall needed to provide width in Louis Fenton's absence.
The Phoenix were often too narrow in attack against Central Coast, allowing the Mariners to defend in numbers in the box.
The Victory have a short turnaround after playing Western Sydney last night.
They will also be without captain Mark Milligan, who underwent minor knee surgery yesterday.
Merrick said Muscat, his former captain at the Victory, was taking time to make his mark after replacing now Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou in October.
"It's a bit like Manchester United at the moment [under new manager David Moyes]. It's about getting them to play your way and it takes time."
The Dominion Post