HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM - Catholic University men's soccer freshman Jacob McDonald competed for the Guam U19 National Team in three international qualifier matches in Vietnam for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U19 Championship.
McDonald left Catholic men's soccer team for international duty to play in three matches against fellow AFC countries Japan, Vietnam, and Mongolia in the second week of November. The forward scored Guam's first goal of the championship qualification against Vietnam in a 4-1 loss on Friday, Nov. 8 at Thống Nhất Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
"It was such a privilege to be able to travel the world and play with Guam to represent the Island and my family," McDonald said. "Scoring and grabbing an assist as well was such a great feeling, and being with such a close group of boys in Vietnam made the experience that much better."
McDonald's father, George, was born in Guam and lived in the country as a child before moving to the United States. The freshman hails from Valrico, Fla. now but has competed for Guam's national team multiple times.
Guam fell to eventual group winners Japan in its first match, but played a stronger match against Vietnam, netting the only goal scored against the host country in the tournament. McDonald found the back of the net in the 33rd minute after he pressured the Vietnamese goalkeeper and finished with the left foot to get his squad back into the match.
In the team's final match against Mongolia, McDonald found teammate Kris Fernandez with headed assist to put Guam up 1-0 in the 18th minute, before coming up short in a 4-3 defeat. The forward impressed U19 head coach Karl Dodd, who also manages the senior national team, with a goal and an assist to lead the team.
McDonald left on Friday, Nov. 1 and returned on Monday, Nov. 11, missing three matches for head coach Travis Beauchamp and the Cardinals. Catholic completed its undefeated Landmark Conference campaign in that span, topping Moravian and Elizabethtown for its fourth conference title in program history.
After returning to train with his college team, McDonald got to complete another soccer milestone less than a week later - playing in an NCAA Tournament game. The first-year played 20 minutes in a tightly-contested 2-1 loss to No. 18 Connecticut College at Carlini Field. Afterwards, McDonald expressed how supportive his teammates were during his absence.
"They all texted me when they won the Landmark Championship and were excited when I got back," McDonald said. "The team was such an amazing help in allowing me to come straight back into training and the game."
Forty-six member nations entered to qualify for the 2020 AFC U-19 Championship which will be hosted by Uzbekistan next fall. A total of 16 teams will play in that tournament, and the top four teams of the tournament will qualify for the 2021 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia as the AFC representatives. McDonald and Guam fell to Japan, who qualified to represent their group in 2020.
McDonald scored four goals and added one assist in his first season for the Cardinals, including a two-goal game against St. Joseph's (L.I.) and goals against Landmark opponents Goucher and Moravian. The freshman will seek to continue contributing to a potent Catholic offense that scored 59 goals in the 2019 season to lead the conference by a wide margin of 22 tallies.