Tyler Boyd was conceived in the United States and now he's playing there, too.

Father Ric wanted his son born in his native New Zealand, so Ric and Sherry Boyd travelled there for Tyler's birth in December 1994.

"We flew straight back to America when I was old enough to travel," Tyler Boyd said.

After Tyler spent a decade in California growing up, the family moved back to New Zealand and he debuted for the All Whites in 2014, making six appearances. But he was allowed to switch affiliation by Fifa in May and has become a regular for the Americans heading into today's Concacaf Gold Cup final against Mexico.

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"It was my dream to play for America," Boyd said. "I represented New Zealand, and that's my dad's country, and now I get to represent America and make my mum proud — and my dad is extremely proud, as well. To represent such an amazing country is such an honour. There's 330 million people in this country, and to be one of those that gets to play is just humbling."

A 24-year-old winger, Boyd signed for the Wellington Phoenix at 17 in 2012 and moved to Portugal's Vitoria Guimaraes in February 2015. He started to score during a loan to the smaller Portuguese club Tondela in 2017-18, made a few starts but mostly substitute appearances for Vitoria Guimaraes in the first half of last season, then became a regular during a loan spell at Turkey's Ankaragucu during the second half of 2018-19.

Three months after he was hired as American coach, Gregg Berhalter called Boyd in March. Boyd had attracted attention from a scout for the Columbus Crew about two-and-a-half years ago when Berhalter coached the Major League Soccer team. Boyd missed Berhalter's initial outreach because he was in a pool session, then called Berhalter back.

"He was excited about it," Berhalter said. "That's what you wanted to hear because we want guys that are in it for the project we're on and for what we're trying to do."

Boyd made his US debut on June 9 in a friendly against Venezuela and scored twice in his second game, the Americans' Gold Cup opener against Guyana on June 18. The first goal was the 1000th in US team history.

"You could see he was full of confidence coming in," US forward Jordan Morris said.

Defender Tim Ream was impressed with the physical play of the 1.80m Boyd.

"He throws himself around, not afraid to get into a tackle," Ream said. "His willingness to get the ball to feet and run at guys and make things happen. He's just showed a willingness to do whatever it takes to stick in this group."

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Boyd attended Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy and played football, baseball and judo as a youth. Becoming a professional footballer was his goal.

"I think at 4 years old, I believe I was telling my parents, 'this is what's going to happen, I'm going to do it'," he said. "And they never doubted me. They filled me with confidence, filled me with belief, and I believed."

He was playing with a youth academy when he was part of a group offered a trial with Wellington.

"They said, 'out of these 12, we will sign two professional contracts'. It was after a game we played in pre-season and I scored four goals, they signed me directly after that.

"And then as a 17 year old, I was making appearances in the Australian league as a pro. My debut was against [Alessandro] Del Piero," the Italian World Cup champion then with Sydney FC. "It was crazy how things happen."

Boyd started as a wide player in three of the Americans' five Gold Cup matches and featured in another as a second-half substitute.

"His speed, his verticality, his ability to get to goal, his ability to score is something that's valuable," Berhalter said.

And he has fit into the group as if just another American.

"He's been a great addition to our group, just in terms of the personality," said midfielder Michael Bradley, among the team's veterans, "I think he has established himself in a good way in a short amount of time."

- AP