Now maybe isn’t the best time to be discussing putting up walls with an American but Perry Kitchen is adamant that Hearts will be doing all they can to keep Celtic out when the teams meet up tomorrow.
The US international says that it is “no secret” that the defending champions are having a “tremendous” season, racking up a record-equalling tally of 26 domestic games unbeaten. But the Gorgie captain says the capital side do not intend to allow them to effortlessly build on that total.
“It is about going there and trying to get a result and ruin a bit of the success they are having,” said Kitchen. “We know it won’t be easy but we will give it our best go.
“The way we’re set up, we don’t want to have to change our game, no matter who we’re playing. We don’t want to play against these teams in this way, then change it for Celtic away or the like. It’s about keeping the same mindset.
“We understand that it can be a different challenge. We might have to defend more. We can do that. No problem.”
Having joined Hearts from MLS side DC United last March, the midfielder concedes that his time in Scotland has served as an eye-opener on and off the pitch as the microscope was turned on his homeland and dressing-room debates meant he was forced to see it as others see it.
“I’m probably not going to talk politics,” he said, admitting it was a hot topic among his team-mates but stating he was less keen to get into it with reporters. “But hopefully it’s a good decision, because that is what has happened. It’s a big deal because obviously a healthy America, a strong America, is good for the world economy. Hopefully that’s the way it goes.
“I think it’s pretty cool that you guys know so much about it. I think a lot of you guys know more about the American political system than most Americans, which is kind of cool – or sad, whichever way you look at it! To see how America operates from a foreign point of view, it’s pretty cool.
“I have learned a bit more from being here. In America, we’re proud of the American way and sometimes that means we’re hard-headed and always think the American way is the best way. And that’s not always the case, you know? We’ve experienced that over here, learned that other ways to do things can be positive and just as effective.”
While football takes priority, the cultural awakening has been a bonus for Perry, although he does still miss certain home comforts and is happy to receive care packages of US candy, confessing that his parents also brought essentials such as his favourite brownie mix and salad dressing when they visited recently.
“But, being a foreigner in a different country, you sit back and say: ‘OK, they do things differently here, let’s learn from that but still be my own person. I’m trying to embrace the culture. It’s great.”