From earning Major League Soccer’s Rookie of the Year honors to making his first U.S. national team cap, C.J. Sapong’s career has been moving in fast-forward.

“It’s definitely a nice way to start my career,” the striker tells “I just enjoy every bit of it and appreciate all the opportunities that have been given to me.”

Sapong was talking from the U.S. team’s hotel in Panama City, one day before he is set to make his second appearance in what could be a hostile environment. Last Saturday, he made his debut when he entered the pitch in the 74th minute of an exciting 1-0 victory over Venezuela.

“It’s been kind of euphoric,” says Sapong. “I’m still just trying to recover.”

In fact, the entire two-and-a-half week camp has been a dream for the 23-year-old who plays his club soccer for Sporting Kansas City. He did not know what to expect when he entered his first national team camp and it’s admits to it being tough on not only him but all the young players.

Sapong is among five players who entered camp without a cap. With the bigger names of Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan, among others, remaining in Europe, this is the time to shine for Sapong and the younger and domestic-based players.

“I’m looking forward to keeping my name in the mix and hopefully getting a lot more opportunities,” says Sapong.

“I’m certainly on the bottom [of the depth chart] and just trying to soak everything in.”

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As for Sapong’s club career, he has thought about what it would be like joining a bigger club outside of the United States. But he also would like to continue to progress at his own pace, even if it means spending the next couple years in MLS.

“I feel like where I’m at it’s good,” he said. “If I feel like I’m at a point when I’m not getting better or not getting exposed to the highest quality of play that I need to be, then I’ll start thinking about making those moves.

“Obviously, it’s every players dream to be playing top-flight football in Europe, and that’s one of my dreams. Eventually I want to get there, but I still there are a lot of things that I could learn from being in MLS for a couple years.”

Despite his successful MLS season, in which he recorded five goals and five assists, Sapong has not heard of any interest from teams abroad.

“I figure that when the right time comes, they will show their interest if there is interest,” he said. “But it’s not anything I’m too worried about right now.

“I’m very happy with the position I’m in right now and I still think there’s a long way for me to go.”

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