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Danny Williams: It killed me not to play in Copa America

Jamaica v United States - World Cup Qualifer Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

You could argue that Danny Williams had the best year of his career for Reading last season. The midfielder transformed his game from being a predominantly defensive-minded player, to a box-to-box player that added an attacking element to his repertoire.

With six goals and three assists on the season, Williams was one of Reading’s most influential players. However, one violent altercation with a teammate late in the season earned him a three-match suspension and some unwanted bad publicity.

Despite the incident and many transfer rumors surrounding him, he’s still with Reading. So, it doesn’t appear that the “bust up” hurt his standing at the club level. But maybe it hurt his reputation with Jurgen Klinsmann?

As an experienced midfielder, Williams would be expected to have a good chance at winning a roster spot for the Copa America. Instead, he was passed over for the likes of Perry Kitchen and Kyle Beckerman. Two players who are either less experienced or in worse form than he was. While no one has ever come out as said that the incident was the cause for his omission, it’s not outrageous to think it could’ve affected it.

Williams told NBCSports that he watched the USMNT at the Copa America and that it “killed him” not to be playing with his national team.

“I followed it and watched it with my friends and everything. It obviously kills you when you are not involved,” Williams said. “It kills you. In 2014 I missed the World Cup due to a knee injury and then in 2016, I would say I did enough to maybe be selected and be in the squad. Like I’ve always said, the Championship is not a bad league. It is a really, really tough. I played a lot of games and was in really good shape and I felt like I could really help the team.

“I was a bit sad that I didn’t get a chance to help the team but that’s the decision of other people and it is not in my hands. That’s why I say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. There is 2018 around the corner anyways, so I just have to stay healthy and look to get my spot with the national team.”

Some may argue that he probably should’ve been called up with the way some of the U.S. midfielders performed in the tournament. But, that’s beside the point and revisionist history. What’s important now is how he can go about making sure he’s picked for the next big tournament.

It seems like Williams has been on the bubble for the USMNT for a long time. Klinsmann has given him chances to prove his worth and it’s been a mixed bag of results. His form with the national team would likely need to be described as erratic. He has some very good performances and then can follow up them up with ones that make you question how he received a call up in the first place.

At 27, Danny Williams is still in the middle of his prime and has time to finally break the glass ceiling that’s preventing him from becoming a regular for the USA. It’ll take another successful club season to earn more call-ups. Then it’s up to him to take advantage of his chances.