Michael Boxall Chicago Fire
Bob Frid

Michael Boxall called up by New Zealand for FIFA World Cup qualifying

New Zealand Football have announced that Vancouver Whitecaps FC centre back Michael Boxall has been called up by his country for a pair of friendly matches in the United States and the second round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying in the Oceania region.

Boxall, 23, returns to Ricki Herbert’s squad after earning his first three international caps for the All Whites last year. The former University of California, Santa Barbara, stand-out will join up with his international teammates on Sunday and prepare for two friendlies versus Central American opposition next week. New Zealand will face El Salvador at the newly-built BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday night before meeting Honduras at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, next Saturday night, May 26.

Following their two-match tour of Texas, Boxall and the All Whites will travel to the Solomon Islands to take part in this year’s Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Nations Cup, which serves as part of the OFC’s World Cup qualifying process. Playing in Group B, the All Whites will face Fiji on Saturday, June 2, before meeting Papua New Guinea on Monday, June 4. New Zealand complete their group schedule versus hosts Solomon Islands on Wednesday, June 6. The semifinals are set for Friday, June 8, with the final taking place on Sunday, June 10. Boxall will return to Whitecaps FC on Wednesday, June 13.

As a result of his international call-up, Boxall will not be available to Whitecaps FC for next Wednesday’s decisive second leg of the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship final at Toronto FC, the Cascadia Cup derby clash at Portland Timbers on Saturday, May 26, and the Major League Soccer home clash versus Eastern Conference side Houston Dynamo on Sunday, June 10.

The first overall pick in the 2011 MLS Supplemental Draft, Boxall started all but one of his 19 league appearances during his rookie season for Whitecaps FC last year. The centre back also started in two Canadian Championship matches for the ‘Caps in 2011. This season, Boxall has played every minute for Whitecaps FC reserves in the MLS Reserve League, while he also started Whitecaps FC U-23’s first two matches in the 2012 United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League season.