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Report: Zelalem close to American citizenship, USMNT eligibility

GedionZelalem (

Just when you thought Julian Green would be the recruiting coup to end all recruiting coups by Jurgen Klinsmann, now there are rumblings that another high-profile young player could be choosing to play for the U.S. Men’s National Team over Germany among other options.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that highly-regarded Arsenal youngster Gedion Zelalem was recently in the United States to finalize his American citizenship and receive his American passport, which would make him eligible to play for the United States.

Zelalem appeared destined to play for Germany after taking part in the German youth national team set-up recently, but a decision to avoid playing for the German Under-17 national team in European Championship qualifiers kept him from losing the option of playing for the United States (if he had played for Germany he would have lost the option of filing a one-time switch to the United States because he wouldn’t have been an American citizen yet before representing Germany).

If Zelalem has indeed secured his American passport he would now have the option of playing for the United States, Germany or Ethiopia, and while the Washington Post report doesn’t offer any evidence of Zelalem’s intentions, the fact that the U.S. is still a possibility for such a highly-rated prospect.

A skilled central midfielder who has already signed a first-team contract with Arsenal, Zelalem is considered one of the top midfield prospects in the Gunners system. Zelalem was born in Germany to Ethiopian parents, and spent part of his early youth living in Germany, but he also spent six of his formative years living in the United States, where he was discovered by Arsenal scouts.

Jurgen Klinsmann has done a good job of recruiting dual nationals to play for the United States, such as Aron Johannsson and most recently Julian Green, and it is believed he has also worked toward trying to secure the services of Zelalem as well as German youth national team forward Shawn Parker.

Though the 17-year-old midfielder isn’t really an option for the 2014 World Cup, Zelalem could be a major addition to the U.S. national team’s options heading toward the 2016 Olympics, and beyond.

Of course, at this point there is no guarantee Zelalem will play for the United States, but the fact he has kept his options open has to be a positive sign for Klinsmann and U.S. Soccer in general.

What do you think of this development? See Zelalem being an impact player? Still think he will ultimately play for Germany?

Share your thoughts below.









  1. If Gedion chooses Germany over US it may actually be better for the US Soccer profile in the long term. That a product developed and discovered in the Anerican youth ranks was favored by a perennial top team in world football would be huge for all American prospects.

  2. Slowleftarm,

    I think the attacks you get here for your viewpoint are disproportionately unfair. So let me first say that I appreciate the viewpoints you represent, specifically on this topic.

    That said, it would be fun to see you put together an all time ‘pure’ American XI vs. the best American XI to see who’d reign supreme.

    My bet is on the All Time XI and I’d guess all but a few shouldn’t have played for the USA based on your criteria.

    • The problem with SLA’s viewpoint is that his “qualifications” is that they are so amorphous and squishy as to be useless.

    • THomas,

      Look up racial classifications under apartheid in South Africa back in the day..

      You should find helpful guidelines there.

      • Such reactionary crap. Why even have citizenship requires at all? Thats nationality discrimination!

  3. Manufactured soccer culture.
    Building a nationa l one foreigner at tha time.
    Player development is way overrated, why develop when you can pick up other’s scraps?
    Have some pride!

  4. A friend of mine born and raised in London and a lifelong Arsenal supporter says this of the kid:

    “he’s our best youth product since Fàbregas”

    • he should have said, “he’s our best youth product since we signed that barcelona youth product named Fabregas”

  5. Talented kid. I wonder what the friendly roster in September will look like now? Klinsmann won’t sit on his laurels. I have a feeling he will start the new cycle with a few vets but mainly bringing in young talent. Possible 25 man squad for the Friendlies:

    Gk: Sean John, Guzan, Howard

    Defense: Yedlin, Chandler, Fabian, Cameron, Brooks, Hedges, Besler

    Cm’s: Bradley, Zelalem, Trapp, Williams, Diskerud, Gil

    Attackers: AJ, Agudelo, Boyd, Altidore, Green, Gyau, Deuce, Holmes, Zusi

  6. Very exciting time as a USMNT fan, just looking ahead about five years a squad could look like this

    With a bench of: S.Johnson, Cropper, Besler, O’Neil, Garza, Sarkodie, Pelosi, Fagundez, Holmes, Morales, Nagbe and Agudelo. Wow this team is full of potential

  7. I think everybody here is just so jazzed up, full of a combination of excitement and anxiety for Brazil that every topic and comment is bringing out the best and worst of people who are starving for some World Cup soccer to be played ASAP!!!
    I’m gonna have a bud light…..

  8. As a Gooner who has actually seen him play on a few occasions, this is nothing but good news for the USA. Zelalem can’t help but remind most Arsenal fans at least a little bit of Cesc Fabregas. He’s not quite on that level, but he does have that preternatural vision and weight on his passes that you really can’t teach. Just like Cesc, I think he will benefit by playing in England where in addition to that silky smooth passing game, he will have to develop a physical side to his game too. Also, for all the faults you might find in Arsene Wenger, if a young player is good enough, he his not afraid to throw him into the fire, so Zelalem might get more first-team opportunities at Arsenal than someone like Julian Green at Bayern. Training with Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, and Aaron Ramsey won’t hurt either.

  9. That interview from his high school days was great. I can see why he’d like the option to play for the USA.

    Another question, I wonder what caused him to choose the #23 (I think he wears #10 now)? Perhaps a fan of Lebron (who used to wear 23 as an ode to Jordan)?

  10. I had been wondering why Ives and other outlets had not yet re-acted to the Washington Post article.. are the details still too fuzzy and not confirmed? Its been a few days, has anyone succeeded in reaching out to the player for a comment?

    • I think sometimes they don’t want to jump on a story that only has one source (even though a very good one) without having something new to add. I would guess that we will hear from him as soon as he is ready to say something (not that he has really been much for speaking to the press).

      • Or it could be that they (SBI) have no chance to get inside information, they have no reporters (that costs money) that can do interviews, and the only thing they can do is follow the internet like we all can. And go to games, sit in the stands, and then maybe even attend a press conference.

        I mean, think about it, we have a bunch of soccer writers here, like 5 or so, and each and everyone of them are still in college. Now, how much money are they paid, what expense allowance are they given? What can they do? Do you think any one on the blog here can actually find anything out on their own. Do you really think any one of them have a single contact?

        That is also one of the reasons I have said there are going to be a lot of surprise and shock.

      • Or consider this, do you think Ives, or his press agent, who is probably a college senior, even get a telephone interview with Gedion Zelalem? or even Clint Dempsey? Do you think he can get an interview with Jürgen Klinsmann?

        Look, we have here what we have. It’s a good forum to talk soccer, but there is no inside info here. Expect for what some posters can provide. There was one I remember that knew that had inside information on the J. Green issue but he is gone.

      • Everyone can provide soccer related information. Its not hard to reach out to soccer people because its not a top sport.

        When ESPN deportes broke the story about klinsmann going after Rogelio funes mori last year, I was able to speak to his high school coach and he told me he wasnt an american citizen and wasnt close to getting citzenship

        I was the first to report that and I didnt get paid

      • Maybe not at all hours or during busy times, but I’d point out that Ives’ podcast has had some good players come and talk with them.

      • I hear what you’re saying.. The point being this blog could have gone up Saturday.. And I’m guessing it didn’t because of the cloudiness around it. Likewise the twitter feed was basically bare of it.. No other major outlet has picked up on it.. ESPN, SI, no Twellman tweet etc.. Just curious I think considering it would seem verifiable if he was indeed in DC.

    • The WaPo story said he’s “finalizing the process” of becoming a citizen.

      USCIS still has to do its work.

  11. In other news (after the World Cup), Mexico is going to copy USA with recruiting all the young talent from USA, by recruiting every soccer athlete with mexican American citizenship 🙂 …… will happen. Mexico already does it with the women and recruit college soccer talent

    • Mexican americans are not elite talent so they can recruit all they want…..

      I bet there wont even be any mexican americans on the US roster for brazil

      • You seem to be forgetting a lot of the younger dual Mexican-American citizens:
        – Luis Gil
        – Joe Corona (El Salvadorean and Mexican)
        – Paul Arriola
        – Rubio Rubin
        – Benji Joya
        – Amando Moreno
        – Jose Villarreal

        …just to name a few

      • Did you read how I said no mexican americans on the US roster to BRAZIL… I guess I forgot about omar gonzalez but he will not be a starter anyways…

        Thats cool on the players you listed but the original poster acted like mexican and mexican american players are world class

      • How the heII does he make it seem like they are world class? He just says they are gonna up on recruitment. How that translates to world class beats me, and everyone knows no one from the US or Mexico is world class

      • like a typical mexican, he turned in a story that had nothing to do with mexicans..

        Dude acted like were gonna be garbage is lose the mexican american talent

        The mexican national barely qualified for the World Cup and the mexican americans on the US arent good.

      • This article is about dual national Zelalem. So the guy up top is talking about dual nationals involving mexico. Please tell me where he says the US is garbage without the mexican americans?

        It seems that he is saying that development in the US is improving so mexico will try to get their hands on more dual nationals, instead of it mostly being the other way around.

    • I’m pretty sure that there was at least one Mexican-American or Mexican-who-grew-up-in-America on MEX roster for the last friendly.

      • There wont be any at the world cup

        castillo, corona, orozco, torres, and gomez will not make it

      • Don’t believe in the hyphen
        We didn’t say:
        Tab Ramos (immigrant) uruguayan-american or John Harkes (1st gen) scottish american or
        Tony Meola (1st gen) italian-american.
        or more recently:
        Jozy Altidore (1st gen) haitian-american, or Stuart Holden (immigrant) scottish-american or Charlie Davies (1st gen) gambian-american. Does
        Gonzo, born and raised in Dallas, need a hyphen?
        I don’t care where you are from, if you are legally entitled to be in the country and honestly want to be here and give to this country, then you don’t need a hyphen.

      • We have seen besler and omar start in CB everytime they are both in camp and geoff has played RB in his last games, so once again, Jurgen disagrees

      • I am not sure Omar will even make the 23. It may be Brooks and Bresler starting at cb and Chandler and Cameron at right and left in the first game against Ghana.

        Then I’m thinking, Bresler may sit and Cameron move to cb and DeAndre going in.

      • I hope to god Yedlin dosent play. I saw him get torched by Darlington Nagbe not too long ago, would hate to see what the guys at the world cup will do. And i think its pretty clear that Jurgen really likes Omar. It would take something drastic for him to be left off

      • Maykol. please, and I know it will be hard for you, to get it through your head that it is not Klinsi who is now making the decisions. 3 months ago that was true. Does the sacking of Klinsi’s yes man vasquez even give you pause?

        Do you know that the signing of Green had nothing, or very little, to do with Klinsi? That Klinsi was a side-player in the deal, and the importance of that deal went way beyond him?

        Of course you don’t. You are a perfect example of those that will be SHOCKED!

      • Sorry i have trouble believing a guy who starts and goes 90 in just about every camp hes at will be left off the 23 man roster, but i do look forward to hearing the rest of your little story you went on about

      • I have nothing more to say than I already did Maykol, Just wait, it’s only going to be a few weeks.

    • Julian will be at the World Cup camp, Gedion won’t. Julian will go to Brazil, Gedion won’t. However, in the Copa 2016 (not the gold cup, not the Olympics) they both will play in the Copa.

  12. after watching the above clip and then finding this short interview,

    … seems like the kid identifies with the USA, spent his formidable years there. his accent is american for sure, haha Better english than Aron, Boyd or Green. I’d imagine he wants to play for the US. but who knows except him. he’s young, although this interview was from 2 years ago before he moved to england to play with arsenal, so give him a couple years and see. his passing is great tho; instinctual. defintie quick change of direction with the ball. possesses with ease, etc

    give it a couple years. 21 year old arsenal player (perhaps still) playing at the 2018 WC for the USMNT? sounds like a cool idea tho.

  13. I am going to agree with Alexi Lalas on these players. More than anything, they need to see where the players heart is at.

    I don’t mean to rip on Lalas, who had a very good career, but he didn’t have talent that guys drooled over. But he had talent and tons of heart, tons of desire to win….for the US.

    And my point isn’t to get into a discussion about not needing talent 1980s and 1990s US soccer style and winning on desire alone… point is that you HAVE to have both. Tons of talent and no really strong feelings for playing for the US is NOT going to work more often than not.

    Good luck figuring it out US soccer.

    • Sorry I got lost in your comment as soon as you lifted Lalas up as an example. I am going to need to reread to see if I can get the point the second time around.

    • Klinsmann is still a German citizen. Does he lack commitment to the US? I doubt they will play much if they lack commitment, JK seems to be as much about that as anyone else. Your concern is unfounded.

      • Gary Page, I think you just made his argument for him. He stated that talent AND heart are needed. If you invite a player over, you have to make sure that they have the talent and heart. Re-read his post:

        “I am going to agree with Alexi Lalas on these players. More than anything, they need to see where the players heart is at.”
        -> A player needs to have the heart to fight for the crest, no matter where they come from.

        “…my point is that you HAVE to have both. Tons of talent and no really strong feelings for playing for the US is NOT going to work more often than not.”
        ->Again, he states players need talent AND the heart/desire to play fight for the US. He never stated that foreign do not have heart, but USSF has to choose players who have talent and heart. I saw a Lalas interview where he stated I don’t care where the players come from as long as they have the desire to fight for the cause, the team and the crest (Hint, hint: not all born and bred US residents have that either).

      • I think Klinsmann has already weeded out those whose commitment isn’t total. He has had plenty of chances to see everyone who can possibly make it to the 30 and I seriously doubt that any will be lacking total commitment. That was my main point.

      • Also, didn’t you read or hear JK’s recent statement about/to his players? What he said was that he expects USMNT players to represent the US at all times and to live, breathe, and eat soccer. That includes no only being the first player out on the practice field for their club teams, but also the last to leave and the hardest working. It also means being sure to get enough rest and eat healthy. He is demanding not just their commitment on the field, but also off the field.

    • whining,

      So you are a mind reader?

      Because I don’t know how you determine:

      “Tons of talent and no really strong feelings for playing for the US is NOT going to work more often than not.”

      unless you can read minds.

      Care to give me any examples?

  14. LOUD NOISES!!!!!


    Now that the (some of) the marquee American talent is moving back to MLS and Americans Baroad looking more depressing than it has in years, how about adding anew weekly feature “Future Americans Abroad” where every 12-22 year old with some connection to the U.S gets listed and generated 300-500 comments- 10 from slowleftarm and 490 from those those disagree with him?

    • you forgot to include the comments from people who make fun of the amount of comments and yet post anyway.

      • On most of these I’m being trolled but I’ll generally take the time to discuss my views on this issue because I think it’s important.

      • Even though, I do not agree with your opinion, I actually see the logic behind it. Some people here are misconstruing it, and it strikes me as either a failure in basic reading comprehension or purposeful misrepresentation.

        You have repeatedly and consistently stated that you want players who developed by the US system to be part of the team whether or not they become naturalized citizens or their ancestors came over on the Mayflower. That is because it actually speaks to the development of the US system. Believe it or not this is a common discussion in many elite countries.

        That being said, I disagree with the stance. I generally believe if you are a citizen according to US law, you should play as long as you are better or make the team better (not the same thing) than another competing player (even if they spent a lifetime coming through the US system). We are all Americans, aren’t we after all.

  15. regardless of whether he plays for us, if he turns out to be as good as projected, it’ll be a success for us either way, considering he spent his formative soccer years here.

    not saying that i’ll be just as happy if he chooses germany (or ethiopia), but that’s still something to be proud of.

    • But if he does choose USA and become what he is projected I hope American sports media shove him down our throats like johny manziel so soccer could be bigger

  16. Olympic 2016 squad could actually be fun to watch. Or qualify for that matter.


      • that is Erik Palmer Brown. If you haven’t heard of him, he looks to be our future CB that can actual pass.

      • Why are you all predicting the starting 11 in the 2016 Olympics?Haven’t you heard, there is a big tournament scheduled in 2016, the Copa.

        How about projecting the starting team for that.

    • I am also looking forward to this squad. Our youth depth is amazing right now. 4-3-3


      This starting XI doesn’t even have flores, stanko, holmes, EPB, or Pelosi

    • Anyone know how Marc Pelosi is doing? All accounts before his injury said he had EPL class potential and Liverpool were very high on him. He could make the Olympic team. Also, the Olympic team can include some over age players and they would almost certainly start, otherwise, why bring them? Other possibilities include Shane O’Neil, Jack McBean, Arriola from Tijuana, etc. It could be a medal winner.

  17. Why would zelalem get citizenship and not choose USA. It’s hard to not be excited about this, but nothing is for sure until it is done. I mean the dude sounds acts like an American from 9to 15 he was in the USA and he is 17 now. Most of his memories are probably his time in America. The writing maybe on the wall, but you never know.

    • “Why would zelalem get citizenship and not choose USA”

      could be so he doesn’t have to keep turning down youth call-ups from different countries without being cap-tied so soon. he very well may just be taking precautions so he has a lot more time to consider his decision.

    • There was a video of him at Arsenal and he is immersed in US pop culture. (Mentioned watching High School Musical and Scandal).

      I’m to lazy to google it and put it here. I always thought that it was ironic that Gedion seems like he wanted to play for USA over any other team but wouldn’t be eligible because of tough citizenship rules.

      If he has his passport, call him up to the first friendly after the WC and room him with Terrence Boyd. Give Boyd 15 minutes to explain to him how great America is and Gedion will declare stat. (Love Boyd’s enthusiasm. I think if he scored a goal for the US in the WC he would go nuts and tear down the goal posts.)

      • I’d always thought the issue was that he might lose his UK visa if he became a US citizen without showing enough to qualify as “exceptional talent,” but when he has a german passport it makes it easier. I think the timing of this is because he has been signed to a senior team contract and has first team appearances this young which qualifies him for exceptional talent.

      • Per Goff and wiki:

        He’s an Ethiopian citizen and a provisional German citizen that was naturalized as a child. German nationality law requires a provisional citizen to choose a nationality between the ages of 18 and 23. His status as a minor would allow him to continue to carry German citizenship until he is required to choose a nationality (basically “German” or “Not German”). By that point, he may no longer need the German passport, because he would have up to five years of first team PL experience and a USMNT World Cup cycle under his belt*.

        *Assuming he pans out and is actually good at soccer.

      • It wasn’t the UK visa (he doesn’t need one as a German citizen), but his German passport — he needs that to play in the UK. It sounds like he can keep his German passport since he is under 18.

      • yes, I thought that he looses his German citizenship upon his application for a non EU citizenship. No German passport = no UK work permit, I thought. I also don’t get how his father can become a naturalized US citizen while living in a foreign country.

      • Wood Chip: His dad is also a US permanent resident, and is also Gideon’s custodial parent. You can maintain permanent residency so long as, basically, you aren’t absent from the US for more than a year (guideline, not rule) or otherwise take any actions that abandon your status. So long as the father intended to return and he occasionally did, his status was secure, even though he was spending most of his time in London being a father. That second part is important, because the CCA requires that the child actually live in the legal and physical custody of the parent applying for citizenship. Had the father not gone to London, USICS could have claimed that Gideon had not been in his father’s custody.

        The German passport is apparently not an issue, because he’s still a minor. As a provisional German Citizen, he’ll have to choose between “German” and “Not German” down the road, but he doesn’t have to make that choice today. That said… He would have had to make that choice regardless of whether or not he obtained US citizenship.

    • I think he will choose the US but are you saying there are no benefits to being an American citizen other than being eligible to play for the USMNT?

  18. Re-posting this from Tab above.

    The beginning is just some nice ball control and great balance, technical movement, that is very much in the Arsene Wenger influence. But the real class starts at about 3:53 with a couple passes that are frankly world class. It doesn’t matter what age group you’re playing at when you can hit a ball like that. No wonder Wenger has already signed him to a first team contract.

  19. if he gets zelelam.. I dont care how well they do in this world cup… klinsmann deserves a chance to coach these kids in 2018

    • I couldn’t agree more. The guy has won euros and a world cup. To have someone like him coaching these kids would be great. He did sign am extension so I’m sure he is safe, which he should be after all he has done this year. This draw makes it extremely difficult to get out of the group. If we don’t play our best soccer in each game we could get blown out by any of the teams in our group.

      • Yes but it isn’t it his job to make sure we do play our best soccer and don’t get blown out? We have good enough players to be competitive in this group and that’s what we should expect. Not necessarily make the knockout stage but be competitive. And I’m not saying fire JK if we go three and out but I don’t think he gets a total free pass.

      • OK… Say it’s three straight losses that look like the US-GER quarterfinal from 2002? Are you happy?

      • Yeah that would be ok because that’s being competitive. And I’m not saying he should be fired anyway, just saying the “who cares what happens” attitude is misplaced. Ultimately his job is to get results for USMNT and if the team stinks at the world cup, the fact Zelalem became a US citizen doesn’t make up for it.

    • Klinsmann will be here to coach them, don’t worry, unless he chooses to leave, the only reason he wouldn’t be here.

      but the low expectations for this summer from the board are everyone’s built in apologies for whatever happens. not for me

      Screw that un-American loserdom. I want to win, just like in 2002 and before and after. Get out of that group…find a way. That’s the task. Do it!

      I wish that was the prevailing atmosphere American fans were creating and presenting. oh well

  20. If he really does develop into the world-class player some think he will, he could bring in some serious marketing dollars as an American player. That’s got to be part of the pitch to some of these kids (and there’s nothing wrong with that, either). Freddy Adu at least showed the potential in that department.

    • While Adu has been a disapointment, more due to atitude than skill, he will always be an important part of American Soccer. While there were others before him, he was perhaps the most high profile kid. The money he made was crazy in endorsements, imagine if he had the atitude how big he would be right now.

      • There is no question about it. If the U.S. could get a world-class footballer, (especially a goal scoring attacker), which we have never had in our history (Freddy was that in imagination only, at the age of 14), that that player would make millions upon millions and the American advertising network, which is one of the few things we are the best at, will make him as well known world-wide as Michael Jordan. And it will produce a groundswell for kids to play soccer in America the likes of which could be never been imagined.

        Julian Green is that world-class player at this point in time, and I believe everyone will see it beginning in mid-May. Then think about it, not only do the Ad-Men have Julian they will have Gedion coming right behind.

        I know, most followers and posters here can not, (or more likely simply do not want to) wrap their minds around it. Yes, it will come as quite a SHOCK to them.

      • they are. a few months a year for as long as it’s fun or in school. trouble is the rest of the world is playing football. 12 months a year. until we catch up with that reality if we want results we have to find a few kids who have spent or are spending time playing top flight 12 months a year.

      • the generation of parents coming thru are more equipped each generation, and there is TV covering the best leagues and players for this generation to watch and absorb, a huge difference. Plus there’s actually a domestic league with soccer stadiums to enjoy the matches with more enjoyable teams to watch each year. These things all start to add up too imo in the recruitment department domestically for players and athletes. Still , Football, Baseball and basketball aren’t going anywhere

        certainly agree with the thought that the more kids developing year round the better

      • You really have no idea what you are talking about. most club soccer players in California are playing year round and have been for some time.

        US-U17, and US-U20 teams are already proving that the development of US soccer is moving forward very nicely indeed.

      • We’ve seen an U20 national team crash and burn pretty recently in
        the last cycle. I hope they have significantly improved since then
        as you believe.

    • I don’t really see how this is a potential selling point. Surely, he could make more marketing/endorsement money as a German national team player in Germany than here.

      • why do you think that? how much did freddy make, and he wasn’t even that good? how much has donovan made, and he might never have even made germany’s national team?

        i’m not saying you’re wrong; i just don’t know how you’ve decided that.

      • Ok but do you think Landon or Adu made as much as German (or other European countries’) national team players? Who do you think made more in endorsements – Landon or Wayne Rooney? If these guys are good enough to play for top national teams/clubs in Europe, they’re going to make a boatload of money.

      • You’re skirting the question they are asking, which is:

        Who makes more money – Wayne Englishman Rooney or Wayne American Rooney?

      • So you think Wayne Rooney would have made more money if he was American? Hmmm, I don’t know about that one. How do you figure?

      • Population size.

        Assuming equal levels of affluence, advertising (and therefore endorsement deals) will cost more in the bigger country. It comes down to impressions on eyeballs.

      • Rooney is a bad example. English pay handsomely, especially for the face of their team. A better example and more relevant to German discussion would be who makes more money Marco Reus German, or Marco Reus American. World class player, makes some endorsement money, but is one of numerous superstars on team Germany. If he were American he would be able to pull money in as “the” superstar. He would always feature in Nike commercial alongside the other big money pullers like Ronaldo, Messi, Rooney etc. Instead as a German he is left out, because they have numerous players at the elite level and no “face of the franchise”

      • Sure, but I bet he’d make more as an American. Nike and Adidas would start printing money for the kid if he became the face of American soccer (still the world’s largest consumer and media market) while playing a big role at a big club.

      • If he really breaks through, the US market is better. If he is stuck as a squad player, Germany would have more opportunities.

      • Wait a minute. The US market is better for marketing a soccer player than Germany? Do you really believe that?! Wow!

      • It’s not crazy. Germany is about a quarter of the size of the US. There’s a reason that the single largest bid for hosting rights for the WC comes from the US. Size matters.

        Now… If you compare the US to the Euro Zone or the EU, it’s a different story.

      • Ok but, as much as it’s growing, soccer is at best the fourth biggest sport here while it is far and away #1 in Germany. Way more popular than even the NFL is here – there is no US comparison for the dominance of soccer in these countries.

        And Germany arguably has more sports that compete with soccer. Somewhere like Spain or Italy, there’s hardly anything else.

      • I lived in Germany, and I would say that Spain and Italy have more big time sports competing with football than Germany. Keep in mind, the best basketball leagues in Europe are in Spain and Italy and they get good ratings. Professional basketball is not nearly as big in Germany. The other things like handball etc do not compete. Football is king in Germany and nothing else comes remotely close.

        That being said, whether he ends up being good enough to be an avg starter or squad player on a team like Germany or become world class, I think, arguably, being an American who plays in and dominates an elite team in an elite league would be better because it opens up more marketing opportunities. Being an average player on a good team would be better for him to be an American because he would still be a special commodity in the US market, but of no major consequence in the EU. The key is to make sure that he is well-known in the EuroZone football market by playing well for a great team (e.g Arsenal) to capitalize on that market.

        I remember living there and seeing the adverts for die mannschaft. Trust me, there are bigger advertising dollars in the US and Asia (which is where Beckam made a lot of money).

      • slow, the world cup hosting rights is the cleanest best possible example. It tells you exactly how much money America has to burn on soccer. If the US rights cost more than German, it tells you an American could make more in endorsement dollars.

      • I’m talking money and market size, not popularity. If Bundesliga clubs sell a widget for a dollar to 50% of the German population, they earn about $40 MM in revenue. If NFL clubs sell widgets to 25% of Americans for a dollar they earn $80MM.

        High level soccer clubs – like NFL/MLB/NBA teams – earn most of their revenue (and therefore their value as organizations) from TV revenues. Therefore, we can look at the value of the the Bundesliga 1 clubs vs NFL teams and determine which has more expensive TV market. Networks pay for rights with advertising, so we can draw a pretty direct line from Club valuation to the size of the advertising market associated with the sport.

        The Bundesliga has one team (BM) that has a valuation of $752 MM. Most of the other clubs are worth less than a quarter billion. The average NFL team is worth $1.17 BB. The mean MLB team is $811 million.

        The US is just a much bigger market than Germany, and much harder to saturate, even if you ignore the unique qualities that an American Pirlo would have to the American audience.

      • The German NT is the most popular nt in China.

        I don`t understand how people can argue about the perceived limits of the German market, when in reality soccer has become a global market. And the German NT is globally relevant and recognized.

      • “The German NT is the most popular nt in China.”

        So what. For now, China is largely poor.

        The mean household income for a Chinese family is $10,000. That’s a quarter of the US median and an eighth of the US mean. There are a lot of people in China, but most of them can’t afford anything but knockoff Mannschaft widgets that don’t actually make any money for DFB.

        To make a lot of money selling a product, you need large AND rich. That’s the US. That’s the EU. It’s not China, yet.

        Besides…. Kobe Bryant probably makes more money from China than the Mannshchaft and all of the Bundesliga combined.

      • Slow lefty and for Joe G Kix. since you mention top notch players none bigger than Messi, Ronaldo,and Zlatan being Zlatan.
        In the MLS Beckham, and then Henry, past their prime, and the market here did wonders for all of them.
        So much so for Beckham that he got a team in south beach.
        Now imagine a US player on a big world soccer club.
        old money and corruption are tied up in the old world. This is a new soccer frontier/market and a preferred destination with an even playing field.
        Where soccer will become king one day.

      • Beckham is still in the top ten of earners for athletes and he doesn’t even play anymore. He starred in a Super Bowl ad. That’s what the American market can do for you.

      • It’s reasonable to ask does Rossi make more endorsement$ as a USMNT player?

        Probably yes.

      • Who cares? The issue is whether US soccer players make enough money to attract top US athletes who might consider other US sports.

      • Nope. American Athletes are the highest endorsement revenue makers in the world. Tiger Woods I believe is the highest with Kobe Bryant not to far behind, Just imagine what a truly world class American soccer player would be worth to Nike? Lets just say a lot of dollar signs.

      • Forbes has it as:
        Woods, Federer, Kobe, LeBron, Brees, Rodgers, Mickelson, Beckham, Ronaldo, Messi, Brady, Rose, Flacco (!), Mayweather, Pacquiao

      • Whenever I think about Green making the move he did, I think about Bayern execs going green in the eyes.. They recently set up shop at a NYC office (can’t remember exact purpose).
        I have this theory that Bayern secretly wanted Green to choose USA because of the HUGE potential for advertising dollars and merch dollars being siphoned out of American pockets to promote their “Star” man who happens to play in Germany for one of the best teams in the world. They maybe though, ‘so what if we lose one potentially great player if in return we’re having our games broadcast on a regular basis in a massive media market that is hungry for something we have in abundance.’

  21. Between AJ, Green and now Zelalem, we might just be witnessing the birth of a golden age american football. This process may take years, but each of these transfers or potential transfers have really raised the level of expected quality from USMNT players. And with each player we cap-tie, we also raise our profile on the international scene. People want to play with exciting players. This is a great trend for football in America.

    • You’re getting very far ahead of yourself. What have you seen from AJ, Green, or Zelalem that provides any definitive evidence that they will be better than our soccer players from the past? In case you forgot the United States already reached a World Cup quarter final and was a blown call away from taking Germany to PKs. Do you think that these three players indicate that we can eclipse that level? Exactly how does recruiting two dual-nationals and gaining tenuous ties with another deservedly raise our expectations of USMNT players? Especially considering that two of these players are unproved professionally and all three have yet to make significant contributions at the national team level.

      In 2002 the team had beat the WC favorites to advance out of the group stage and knock off our biggest rivals in the round of 16. At this point I don’t think that the players we’ve recruited indicate that we’re going to be in a better position than we were in 2002. We will continue to be the team that could make a semi-deep run without a real chance of winning.

      • The argument centers around expectations. While I was only 12 in 2002 I did not anticipate exiting the group based on our competition. In 2014 I still do not anticipate exiting the group. In 2018, when the players we are discussing would be able to make an impact, do you really think we’re going to be expected to win in a group of death?

        I, like everyone else, hope our team gets better, but I do not expect the recruitment of 2 unproven players and a potential 3rd to significantly alter our expectations.

      • You, US_Soccer are a prime example the type of person that I said will be SHOCKED by what you see from May 14 through the world-cup in Brazil and what comes afterwards. TOTALLY SHOCKED!

      • I was careful in my words. I said the depth of our pool. Our starting 11 may not be better, but our 23 will definitely be better. 2014 is the toughest group we have ever been in and we have been in some tough groups. Here are the benchmarks. Highest total ever for qualifying from the Hex for US and best record ever for the US in one year in 2013.

      • considering a Frings handball uncalled on the goal line played a big role in knocking us out, that’s high praise. I tend to agree with you but I’m also a results interested fan. we’ll see

      • Thank you, Shawn. I had to scroll down half the page before getting to some bona fide common sense. Christian Pulisic, Haji Wright, Joe Gallardo, Mukwelle Akale. If you want to get excited about “Golden Generations,” look into some of those names.

        As a rule, I don’t like talking about Golden Generations, because they invariably fizzle out. But we’ve got some real-life homegrown talent in the pipeline, and guys like Zelalem and Green will make good complements to that core. That’s right – complements. They aren’t gonna be the Saviors Of American Soccer. But they should fit in nicely.

  22. Every step of this type is awesome for US soccer. At the very least, it shows the slow but sure increase in the international realization that the US is here to stay as a soccer power and on a steady upward trajectory.

    • I think a tide is slowly turning. In the past, any European coach/club would not approve of a dual-national choosing the USMNT (because of travel for qualifiers, etc.), but so many major clubs now see the USA as a potential marketing ground. The PL is the most popular league in the states, Bayern has opened an office here, etc…

      Now clubs see the marketing potential in potentially having a major star on their books and the publicity/revenue potential from that. Imagine if Zelalem (or Green or Pelosi etc) goes on to be a world class player, the club gains a massive new fanbase with dollar signs attached.

    • The passes starting at 3:53 are… incredible. He splits like 4 defenders with a 40 yard through ball with the outside of his boot and hits a guy in perfect stride.

      That was insane.

    • Highlights definitely show that he can pick out a killer pass…

      He does appear to be pretty reliant on his right foot though.

      • And for the last decade people have been saying Robben is way too reliant on his left foot. The kid is only 17. Who at 17 isn’t reliant on one foot? Very few.

      • That’s the problem GP, one must learn to use both feet as early on in their development, so it is as natural as possible.

      • I remember an article in which Jerry Green, Julian’s dad, saof when Julian got into soccer, like when he was 7 or 8, he started practicing kicking a ball with both feet. Jerry said Julian knew even then that he had to be good with both feet.

      • we do this and much more with all the kids we are developing in our area, and even earlier. there’s more to it my friend

      • in California all over the place smarty pants, including our region throughout the valley. you don’t know what you’re talking about on this one, so just keep up with your know it all attitude and some sheep will follow you

        of course, they are developing numerous other advanced skills all over the world…the ‘there’s more to it’ part

      • Smarty pants? Well that does it, I can’t top that. But pray tell, if you are doing it “in California, including our (your) region, throughout the valley” why is it that you have yet to produce a good player, much less a world-class one?

      • like I said, there’s more to it. some of it is in my response below to PD. your world class spin is not what I called you out for…called you out accurately btw

        still, the list of talent out of California is long and well known, and better all the time. still a ways to go, again read my post below to PD.

        but kids are learning to use both feet in California and more at a young age, but in the equation of developing talent there’s more to it

        smarty pants because you act like you know what you’re talking about with your tone but you actually don’t


      • I remember how Ronaldo looked like he could only dribble with his right early on a ManU. He learned how to use the left and turned out to be a halfway decent player.

    • Thanks for the video. Looks like a good CM with great vision and passing ability

      Defiantly something the US system can use

  23. Being a citizen doesn’t make you an American!!! You have to be born, raised, trained, and killed in america to be american. We have to trace your lineage to at least 4 generations of hardworking, twinkies eating Americans, and if your parents, grandparents, or babysitter ever left the country, you will have to be thoroughly interrogated in order to see how much you love the greatest country in the world!!!!!

    • Bout covers it…. think you carelessly left out Wonder Bread eating though. Ain’t American enough unless you fuel your soccer game with open face PBJ on Wonder Bread washed down with Cherry Kool-Aid.

    • Are you being intentionally dishonest when you frame the issue that way? Many of us are dissatisfied with the continued reliance on foreign raised American citizens because they are in no way reflective of growth of the American game. Zelalem spent 6 of his formative years here, and thus he does not implicate those concerns.

      • Who cares if the dual nationals dont reflect progress in America, they are great players that help the squad. And in case you werent sure, our squad is not full of dual nationals and we clearly have plenty of other players showing improvement in the game back home

      • Many of us care, and enjoy supporting the USA precisely because of how it represents the state of soccer in this country making gains.

        I am aware that our squad is not “full of dual nationals.” The more dual nationals we have that never played soccer in this country in any form, however, dilutes the enjoyment that some of us receive from supporting the team. Hence the criticism.

        Its fine if you don’t share this particular value, but don’t denigrate those of us who like our national soccer team to represent the soccer of our nation.

      • Your attitude smacks of nativist xenophobia and I will bash that kind of attitude and give it the lack of respect it deserves. It implies that only certain kinds of people are qualified to call themselves American and exercise the rights of Americans. That is un-American in itself, anti-historic and non-traditional. Using your logic, should we not have Klinsmann as our coach since he is not American and his hiring sets back the growth of American soccer coaches? I have no tolerance for intolerance.

      • Kevin, would you be in favor of MLS changing it’s rules to better represent it’s home cities. For instance Portland could only use players who developed in the state of Oregon. It doesn’t matter that they were born in Oregon or that they were offspring of Louis & Clark only that they learned out to play soccer near Portland.

      • “Your attitude smacks of nativist xenophobia and I will bash that kind of attitude and give it the lack of respect it deserves.”

        Try to read what I wrote and to understand the terms you use.

        xenophobia: intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries

        I have no “dislike” or “fear” of people from other countries. I simply stated that I get a large part of my enjoyment from watching soccer in this country grow and excel, as represented by USA soccer, and that when the team becomes more comprised of players that learned the game in Europe, that enjoyment is diminished.

        Does a father that enjoys watching his son do well at soccer more than other kids hate those children?

        ” It implies that only certain kinds of people are qualified to call themselves American and exercise the rights of Americans. That is un-American in itself, anti-historic and non-traditional.”

        I never denied anyone the right to call himself American. I simply said I prefer our national team to be comprised of those of us that learned that game in this country. Zelalem is one of those people.

        “Using your logic, should we not have Klinsmann as our coach since he is not American and his hiring sets back the growth of American soccer coaches?”

        Not exactly. Klinsman technically started coaching while living in the USA, so he would fit in my logical criteria perfectly. Also, I don’t believe I said that using foreign players “set back the game,” I merely stated I prefer to watch the USA as represented by players that learned the game in this country, and that others are free to disagree, but it is a valid point of view.

        “I have no tolerance for intolerance.”

        You have no tolerance for reading comprehension. Pretty good at setting up silly strawmen statements though.

      • “Does a father that enjoys watching his son do well at soccer more than other kids hate those children?”

        Because he believes the other kids aren’t his. When you say you don’t like watching these other American’s, they don’t represent US soccer well. You are saying “they aren’t yours”. You’ve defined them as unworthy of representing their country.

        Kevin, you’re on the losing side of this argument. What you want international soccer to be, is not what it is. You are going to have to either accept that International soccer is not setup to define where players learned their craft.
        You aren’t going to redefine the system too few people agree with you. So you can enjoy the competition for what it DOES represent, or you can not watch it at all. That is the choice you have to make.

      • “Because he believes the other kids aren’t his. When you say you don’t like watching these other American’s, they don’t represent US soccer well. You are saying “they aren’t yours”. You’ve defined them as unworthy of representing their country”

        Well, a father that raises and teaches his child from a young age will likely care more about that kid than his offspring that he met at 27 and doesn’t speak his language.

        I’m not on the “losing side” of any “argument.” I merely expressed a frustration that many people have with the path that the UNITED STATES soccer team is following, as many others fans have from other countries (including Portugal, Spain), Argentina)

      • Really? How many 2 year old future American Soccer player do you know? We get to know players like Julian at the same age we would have if he had gone to play in the NCAA. You again are showing an intolerance for American’s who aren’t just like you.

      • I second the words of Gary Page. And I will ask you this question kevin. What do you think of the USA (and CONCACAF) teaming up with CONMEBOL in 2016 and then conducting an Americas every 4 yrs. at the same time as the Euros? I would infer that you would be totally against such a thing and would want to stay with the gold cup or whatever it’s called. Oh yeah, the Olympics also, which most of the world couldn’t care less about.

      • It’s just a non-realistic view Kevin. You want to redefine what international soccer is. If you want to create a soccer league that allows players to only play on the basis of where they developed go for it, but that isn’t what FIFA is about. International soccer is about heritage, family ties, and national pride. Under your world view Messi wouldn’t be allowed to play for Argentina, he would have to play for Spain.

      • More over, Argentinians dont care where Messi grew up….they just care that he plays for the “Albi”….

        Messi came to Spain at the age of 11 and has lived (except for short visits to argentina) the last 15 years of his life in Spain. He actually qualified for spanish citizenship as well.

        I dont hear anyone criticizing Argentina for taking in a “foreigner” according to some of the posters in this forum.

      • Not entirely true. There was a sector of Argentines that weren’t exactly happy with Messi which still continues till today. Many have stated that he lacks a true Argentine fighting spirit when playing for the “Albi.”

      • I never said we should redefine anything. I merely stated what makes me most proud (or in despair) about US soccer, and that is our player development vis a vie other nations.

      • If there were no attempts to grow the game or improve development, this would be a valid concern. That is NOT remotely the case. The national team is mandated to put the best quality team on the field, composed of the best citizens available. It represents this country and its citizens in its entirety, it is not limited to representing development academies and college soccer. Quality players raise the level of the game and expectations of every player on the team. I’d add that open competition/free market principles that are consistent with “American Ideals” and would suggest that competing with foreign development on a level playing field pushes home baked academies to up their game as well.

        Is it not a fact that each American citizen has equal rights to the other, regardless of cultural background or where they received their footballing education?

      • That are the very words I would have said whoop-whoop, if I were able to express my thought into words as good as you do.

      • Many countries debate using foreign born players as part of the national team. England, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Mexico, to name a few. This is not a US only debate. It is a valid debate. The US is the only country where birth in the US (regardless of parents citizenship status) gives you citizenship. So that one bit that has a different angle, but otherwise it’s the same conversation in all those countries. And there are points on both sides. If I were Icelandic I would think Aron Johannson was a traitor punk. But, because I live in the US, I happen to like AJ and welcome him. There are Mexicans who didn’t like Zinha playing for the MX nats. I don’t think there is an absolute, each case has it’s own merits. I think Giuseppe Rossi has no business playing for Italy (and there are Italians who don’t like it either) but legally he is entitled to do so. That’s where the debate tends to divide, “legal” right vs. “how connected is this person with my country” (whatever country that may be). If “legal” right is the only determining factor then countries can change their “citizenship laws” just to facilitate adding talented players. Qatar can make laws that allow them to seek out players from other countries (fifa eligible), give them automatic citizenship and 500k just to help their Nat Team. I think they’d have a lot of takers. Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it not corrupt. Each case is different.

      • No, the US isn’t the only country where birth on its territory gives you citizenship (“jus soli”). Most of the Americas provide that right and more countries are allowing a modified version of “jus soli” for parents who are legally in a country.

        And don’t forget that FIFA rules have limited the rights of Qatar and others to simply naturalize Brazilians and push them onto the pitch.

      • First of all, I’d be curious to know which players on the US team you deem “foreigners” and what your personal definition is. Corrupt? Absolutely not. FIFA has been very clear with its requirements regarding which nation a player may represent and the US is extremely strict and consistent with it’s requirements for citizenship. Corrupt implies illegality, deception, manipulation, finding ways to go around the rules or finding ways to bypass the intention of the rules. There has been nothing but transparent, open dealings with players whose eligibility plainly and literally meets every definition spelled out in US and FIFA regulations. That these rules do not meet YOUR OWN, fictional, irrelevant, idealized version of national and cultural purity does not imply corruption or wrong doing. Take a player like Zelalem who has spent parts of his life in various nations with a diverse cultural and ethnic background. In your black and white world… which nation should he represent and please elaborate as to why you think so?

      • Oh, blah, blah, blah. It’s a world game. The NBA and MLB are both filled with players from other countries. Does that mean you don’t watch your favorite team if they aren’t all American? I know this is not a perfect analogy, but need I remind you that only Native Americans can trace their lineage to being “real Americans?” Have you considered that having good players like Zelalem opt for the US might give further impetus to the growth and development of soccer in the US? Success in the WC probably counts for at least as much for the improvement in US soccer as does the MLS and if these guys help us achieve success in the WC, will that make you unhappy?

      • “I know this is not a perfect analogy, but need I remind you that only Native Americans can trace their lineage to being “real Americans?”

        Not true at all. United States of America did not exist until English Americans created it. The Native Americans were generally excluded from participation at that time.

      • Don’t try to go “history” on me. The continent was named North America before there was a USA. It was named after Amerigo Vespucci. Technically, anyone from North America is an American and Native Americans were Americans before there was a USA. I have seen some Mexicans and Central Americans who take umbrage at people in the US trying to exclusively use the term Americans. BTW, my wife is a naturalized citizen from China and on several occasions we have run into the attitude I am complaining about, so perhaps I am being a bit touchy, but having been involved with so many naturalized citizens over the years and knowing them, I resent anyone who seems to say that naturalized citizens aren’t worthy of being Americans or representing the US. Maybe that wasn’t your intent, but I have seen others write in similar vein who obviously felt that way.

      • I don’t think anyone’s being intentionally dishonest.

        1. We don’t “rely” on foreign-raised American citizens. The overwhelming majority of our best senior players spent at least parts of their early careers here in the States. Howard, Dempsey, Bradley, Donovan, Altidore, Cameron, and Besler are all among our likely starters in Brazil and all started their careers stateside. Beasley, Gonzalez, Bedoya, Zusi, Guzan, and Rimando are all likely to at least make our bench (some have outside shots at starting) and all were at least partially developed in the U.S. Even among our on-the-bubble players (Wondoloski, Eddie Johnson, Agudelo, Edu, Beckerman), most have spent significant time in MLS and were developed here before going abroad. The exceptions are actually relatively small in number (Jones and Fabian Johnson among our starters, and Boyd, Diskerud, Johanson, Chandler, and Green among players who have a shot at making our bench). As for our next generation of players, it’s still too early to knows which players will pan out at the senior national team level and which won’t, but there’s no evidence to suggest we’ve become reliant on players who haven’t spent some quality time developing in America.

        2. Even if we were reliant on foreign-raised players, it wouldn’t make us that different from most other countries, who at some point in time farm out their best players to top club teams in Europe (sometimes while those players are still very young) and then pull players out of those elite youth development systems for their national teams. Would it be nice if we have an elite developmental program combined with an elite professional league here at home? Yea, sure — some players would develop better if they didn’t have to travel quite so young, so we’d probably have a bigger talent pool. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with depending on other countries to train our talent for us. It just makes us part of the world market of international soccer talent.

        3. Not to pile on slow here, but part of the problem is that he/she keeps conflating “not developed in our development system” with having “tenuous connections to the U.S.” Those are two different things. A U.S. Citizen by definition can’t have “tenuous connections” to the U.S. — he’s an American. It’s one thing to argue that our senior national team should draw from a player pool that’s developed domestically (it’s wrong, but not particularly offensive), it’s another thing to call players’ level of connection to the U.S. into question, particularly after they’ve publicly committed to our national program. That’s what pisses other commenters off.

        4. I’d argue that dual nationals picking the U.S. is actually a sign of significant progress in the American game. Sure a player like Julian Green has a better chance of breaking into the senior national team and getting big minutes if he chooses us over Germany. But he likely wouldn’t choose us over Germany if our national program sucked. Nobody who has a choice of which national team to play for is going to affirmatively choose to play with un-talented teammates and for a clueless coach. The fact that dual-nationals are seriously considering us and even choosing us over other countries is an indication that we’re a respectable (if not great) footballing nation and that players with dual eligibility see our program as a way to play in big-time matches where the team will have a fighting chance of winning each time out. As a footballing country, we’re underdogs, but we are undoubtedly in the thick of the fight. And, of course, the fact that we’re respectable is due in large part to our foundation of current senior players who were developed domestically.

      • You are so wrong petro, I can’t even begin to go into it. I mean everything you said is wrong. To the point that I would maybe say you are being just what you said no one was, intentionally dishonest.

      • Hey Dirk, you are getting kind of tiresome.
        Give some facts or real arguments or shut up.

      • What the heck are you talking about? Everything he said makes perfect sense and even has provable evidence behind it. If anything your response only validates it even more, with the trolls having rely on the classic, “omg I can’t believe you went there. I can’t even begin to tell you you’re wrong, but my vast knowledge of everything there is to know about anything keeps me from proving anything to you because such a response is, like, sooo below my standards. So I’ll just scoff at your facts and keep stating my blatantly bias and factless opinions.”

      • Jordy, If you are referring to my comment?, I should have prefaced what I said to Dirk. It was mostly in response to his denial that anything Petro4 said. This is a sensitive issue on many levels and is very personal as well. I do take it upon myself to try to weed out trolls and what seems to be a counterproductive approach to the direction the USMNT is going. much like a draft you are always going to get people offering misdirection and infusing their own personal bias. We are trying to cut through all the BS here. My only real focus is seeing the best Soccer that can be developed and produced, no more no less.

  24. Can we just mentally cut and paste the interminable “is he American enough?” debate from the Jones, Chandler, Williams, Johnson, Johannsson, et al. stories over the past several years? It would save us all a lot of time.

    • Zelalem is pretty different from all those you mentioned. He actually developed (soccer-wise) quite a bit here in the US, just outside DC in Olney, MD. He lived here for quite a few years. I forget the exact number.

    • While I am certainly not the only one who questions the wisdom of aggressively recruiting foreigners with tenuous connections to the US to play for the USMNT, Zelalem spent a pretty good chunk of his childhood here and developed here as a player. I think it’s great for guys like him or Fagundez (or Najar if he had a little more patience)to play for the USMNT.

      On the other hand, he’s very young and just starting out as a professional. Plenty of guys with lots of hype at this stage never really pan out so the expectations need to be realistic. That goes for any of our youth players though, regardless of their backgrounds.

      • Hey! Look at that. Zelalem gets the slowleftarm seal of approval. Guess he can go back to ranting against every other dual-national.

      • Try reading what I write instead of responding to whatever imaginary posts you’re reading. It works better that way.

      • hard to keep up on the complex “who’s” really American views. Luckily we have a state department who does that for us.

      • Wow, slow, where are all the haters coming from? What did you do, suggest that the latest unheard of sixteen year old message board sensation might not be ready to start for the Nats in Brazil?

      • Another one I really want is Darlington Nagbe. He’s Liberian, by birth, knocked around in Europe, and settled in the US at 11, did his college ball with the Akron Zips. He’s got the pace and technical ability to be a 1-for-1 replacement for Landon Donovan. And he’s definitely a product of the US “system”.

        He should get his citizenship in 2015…and I really want him. I don’t see him wanting to be a part of the Liberian squad; their World Cup hopes are slim to none and their civil wars were flat-out nasty; those CHUD revos were big on massacres and old-school machete mutilation and those wounds aren’t going to heal over anytime soon. I think Nagbe would be a bigger get, actually, than Julian Green or Zalalem.

      • bigger in terms of prospect? You know you are comparing a 23 almost 24 year old with a 17 and 19 year old right? Nagbe is a good MLS player I have no problem with him in the US setup, but as a prospect those other kids have a much higher pedigree.

      • The thing is, though, I look at Nagbe and I see a guy who could make us forget about Landon Donovan. Like, right now.

        I look at Green and Zalalem and I see “potential”. Actually as far as center mid prospects go, I’d take Luis Gil ahead of Zalalem right now, just because I think he’s much further along in the developmental curve, and pedigree…meh. Talent is talent, wherever it plays.

        Those two are prospects…high-potential prospects, but unproven nonetheless. Nagbe could rock it for the US squad…right now. Wish we had him now, actually. He’s better than Bedoya and probably equal or very close to Donovan…and he’s not 32, and nursing aching knees.

      • How do you define prospect? Someone with potential, sure, but to do what? Nagbe if he were to play for the US would be relevant for the 2018 cycle. That is it. By 2022 he will by on the down side of his career. When we talk about players with potential, high upside, we are looking for the face of US soccer. A solid component to the team is great, but that isn’t what we are searching for. We are looking for our Kobe Bryant of soccer. With only 1 cycle possible Nagbe just doesn’t have the potential to take the reigns from Landon as the face of US soccer. Gedion and Green could have 3 cycle. In 2026 Gedion will be 29. That alone makes his potential so much higher. Nagbe is the better player today and could help us more in Brazil, but he isn’t eligible. Longevity is an important part of potential. Nagbe doesn’t have that.

      • I would take Nagbe in a heartbeat over Zelalem. His own advocates describe him as only wanting to use his right foot. That’s a pretty big “if” to me. Wenger can love him all he wants but Nagbe has no such weakness in his game and didn’t when he was a teenager either. As for the pedigree comment, I’d say their pedigrees are very similar

      • I know of a guy who only likes to use one foot but he’s still done pretty well. Maybe you know him? His name is Lionel Messi.

      • yeah, that’s who i keep thinking of when i hear these “reliant on one foot” arguments. it’s not really unusual for top-class players to mostly use one foot.

      • Messi would still be better if his right foot was stronger. Having a clear favorite foot is not death knell on a players career, just a disadvantage like pace or strength. Many great players lack something.

      • if you’re talking long term, then there’s no question that Green and Zelalem are bigger gets. Not only are they in some of the largest clubs in Europe, and succeeding, but they’re 5-6 years younger than Nagbe.

    • The only americans real enough for me are those who were born at the geographical center of the original 13 colonies.

      Unfortunately I have no idea where that is and google is little help, so.

    • Are you being intentionally dishonest when you frame the issue that way? Many of us are dissatisfied with the continued reliance on foreign raised American citizens because they are in no way reflective of growth of the American game. Zelalem spent 6 of his formative years here, and thus he does not implicate those concerns.

      • I don’t think my post merited that reaction. I was referring to numerous other threads where the question, implicit or explicit, was precisely that — is he “American enough”? I was not suggesting an answer to that question in this or any other case, but rather predicting that this case would cause at least some people to ask the question.

      • To be fair though, the reason there is a discussion of this issue on this thread is because you raised it. So you can pretend you’re sick of it but in fact you must want to discuss it since you brought it up.

      • Oh, come on now. I make a joking reference to a theme that has come up with every single dual national in recent memory, clearly signalling that I don’t enjoy it — that’s why I called it “interminable” — and I’m the one who “must want to discuss it”? Is that really fair?

      • Meh.

        One can argue that these foreign raised Americans are as much an integral part of the growth of the overall American game as well. Not sure what this “continued reliance” is either as the MLS guys are getting just as much love and respect as our foriegn based players.

        MLS is stepping up their game and the overall depth is getting sweeter and deeper – full of Americans who want to play for their country. That is more than good enough for me.

      • Maybe cause their hasn’t been much growth to the us natl team. Imagine where we would be without them Dempsey Bradley as The only world class field players. It would not even be a group of death cause without the duals we would be weak.
        We are still getting excited about milk cups then crashing out early as usual in real tourneys

      • I don’t agree with your analysis but isn’t the solution to improve our youth setup rather than go out and recruit?

      • Do it doesn’t. In fact, there could be a strong case made that the young dual nationals, mainly Julian Green, will be of great benefit to improving the growth of young American born and bred players.

      • I think the point is to win the world cup while maintaining the integrity of the tournament. aka using only players that are eligible. Only players that are citizens under government rules are eligible.

        And as people have mentioned. A USA team with young exciting players going deep into the a tournament in Russia of all places (signal lake placid memories), will be immensely more influential to the next generation, than the pre-Klinsman course.

      • Why do you pretend it is a choice between one or the other. The two aren’t mutually exclusive…

      • Agree sorta on Dempsey, disagree on Bradley.

        Dempsey carried Fulham for years and was a bad fit for the system Villas-Boatang ran at Tottenham…then again, a lot of people turned out to be bad fits for that system, and nobody’s quite sure, actually, what it was. I still saw Deuce scoring big goals against the likes of Man U and Chelsea even with Tottenham…and he made his own shot, a lot of times. I never really thought he got his due in England mostly because people were never quite sure if he was a winger or a striker and didn’t really fit neatly into any one mold. But even EPL players were supremely leery of him…and I remember him scoring huge goals against the likes of Spain and Brazil in the Confeds Cup in ’09. For a guy who isn’t “world-class”, he’s surely done pretty durn well against the world’s best.

        Bradley’s a world-class box-to-box CM. Anybody who argues that either hasn’t seen him lately. Guy is an absolute machine, reminds me of Stephen Gerrard in his prime.

      • ” kevin o says:

        Are you being intentionally dishonest when you frame the issue that way? Many of us are dissatisfied with the continued reliance on foreign raised American citizens because they are in no way reflective of growth of the American game.”

        What you say is very short sighted.

        “they are in no way reflective of growth of the American game.”

        That is not at all true.

        Assuming GZ goes USMNT , not a sure thing by the way, you don’t get POTENTIAL super stars like these two committing to minor league programs. And it is extremely unlikely that ten, six maybe even four years ago that these two, players with such bright possibilities, would have committed to the USMNT.

        Whether you like it or not the fact we have Green and that GZ seems to be maneuvering towards the US, is seen in the rest of the world as a positive comment on “the American game”.

        And IF GZ chooses the US and IF those two become the superstars everyone says they will be it will be a serious positive boost.

        Arjen Robben as recently as 2010 said the US was a hard side to beat but not very talented.

        A higher level of skill and talent in the USMNT and the subsequent raising of the bar for anyone who wants to play for the US is a good thing, the younger the better.

        I’m sure people did not appreciate Japanese auto makers at first but they forced Detroit to stop building AMC Pacers and Matadors and Ford Pintos and raise their game and offer the American public a better product.

      • kevin, the two issues are separate. The lack of quality player development in the US and whether or not a player who developed over seas is American are completely unrelated. You, slowleft and other are right to critique the player development in the US, although the system can’t be fixed over night. Time will tell if we’ve made improvements. However, a person with an American Passport is American and has every right to represent our great nation regardless of where they honed their professional craft. That is a conversation about that individual and who they are. It has nothing to do with our soccer development.

      • the quality of player development in the USA is improving all the time. should have seen what it was 5 years ago let alone 10 or 20. does recruiting dual nationals make that path easier and more rapid? not so sure about that but the discussion is interesting. I think each case is its own and so depends

    • I think even we die-hard fans have to admit we are a little surprised by the appeal of playing for a true world superstar. How many coaches of national team were legit world superstars the way Klinsmann was? I know Johannsson mentioned that a lot when he explained his decision, I think it is something we kind of overlooked a bit when he was hired.

      • Rory speak for yourself, who overlooked this?.
        Just like any sport you wanna play for Phil Jackson, or Coach K. or the coach of you fill in the blank?.

      • I’m too young to remember but neither of those coaches were legendary players, right? In fact, Jackson was D2!

      • Phil, of course, was legendary for his hairy legs sticking out of his short shorts, and his inability to do much besides D up on some guys when Willis or Bradley needed a rest. “Moves well without the ball” is, I believe, the damning-with-faint-praise sobriquet ascribed to Phil Jackson and his type of player.

    • Big shoes to fill when Landon and Clint retire from the national team.

      Glad to see so many prospects lining up. Wait and see who turns up

    • I have actually. He was barely noticeable but Arsenal was winning and meh. Wenger makes good players. At the very least he will be a professional in 10 years even if that isnt at Arsenal.

    • I’ve seen him play a little bit of a couple of games and a number of highlights of him playing in Arsenal’s preseason tour in Asia. Like any 17 year old he has a long way to go, but he’s shown some flashes of incredible potential. What I was most impressed by was his ability to spot and perfectly weight through balls for wingers or other midfielders trying to get in behind the defense.

    • I saw him in a short sub appearance. He got muscled around a bit, but he’s a little guy still. Give him a couple years. 2018 looks good for the Nats.

    • If anything, him turning down the U call up and getting his citizenship was a “keep your options open” move. Doesn’t guarantee that he’ll declare for the US. Also, how many times have we seen “the next big thing” prospect flare out. I’ll be excited when he’s making regular first time apperances and declares for us.

    • Cue the fanatics who start demanding he play every minute of the 2014 world cup ahead of Mrrs. Altidore, Donovan, and Dempsey.

    • Klinsi and his staff are proving to be master recruiters. Is there another NT that’s better at it? I’d say no. Of course the established NT set-ups don’t need dual-nationals as much but the recruiting by the US is impressive.

      • the answer would be yes if the criteria was eligible to play for Poland and not just germany

      • While I don’t have any sources to cite for this, I imagine there are a ton of European players that have multiple options just because of the proximity and free flow between the countries. It would be interesting to see a write-up of all the national teamers in Europe that could be on another team.

      • The Child Citizenship Act, primarily designed to give instant citizenship to adopted children from overseas but it also gives citizenship to children of naturalized citizens.

      • Dude, not the right way to thank him! I can’t imagine that being “A friend of soccer” is something that plays well in Texas. Now if he was a Democrat that helped Zelalem play for El Tri that might be different.

    • Some interesting tidbits I discovered tonight that might give some insight into Gedion’s big forthcoming decision:

      This is from an interview with the German FA website from when he was playing with the U-17s last November (Translated):

      How does it feel to be with the U-17 team for the first time?

      “I’m very happy to be here. It’s a dream come true. When we were young, we all wanted to play for the German national team and to be like Mario Götze who for many years played at youth level before making the step up to the top level.”

      Is Mario Götze a role model for you?

      “All the players in the national team are role models for me. We’re working very hard to make it to their level. I also really like Mesut Özil, who I know at Arsenal.”

      How is the camaraderie between the Germans at Arsenal?

      “We regularly see each other in the gym, for example. We all speak German with each other and it’s nice to see them and share these things.”

      What are your goals with the U-17 national team?

      “We played and showed that we have a strong team against great footballing nations. Now it’s time to fully concentrate on the elite round and to stand there. We all want to go to the European Championship”

      As you all know, Gedion ended up pulling out of the following U-17 qualifiers this spring which would have cap-tied him to Germany. The turn around was probably caused by the discovery that his father would receive his passport before Gedion turned 18, which would also give Gedion citizenship and open the door for him to play for the US. I’d bet my vapors Klinsmann had something to do with that (or more specifically, the team of immigration lawyers I’m sure Klinsmann’s assembled over the past 3 years).

      What I didn’t realize before was that Klinsmann has been pursuing Gedion since his first trial with Arsenal back in 2011. As you can see from the quotes below, it seems that Gedion along with his father had always dreamed of him playing for Germany, and yet 2 months and a training camp in California later, both seemed open to the possibility of playing for the States.

      From the Washington Post article when Arsenal first scouted him in 2011:

      “His father would like him to represent Germany and has been working to make the German federation aware of his son’s ties.”

      “‘It’s my dream,’ said Zelalem Woldyes­­. Gedion’s mother died in 2005 and Woldyes has since re-married. ‘I want to say thank you to the country that helped me. I’m grateful to Germany.'”

      The second article in the Washington Post just two months later shows both father and son are also open to the idea of Gedion playing for the US:

      “He has always dreamed of playing for Germany, but after a second call-up to a U.S. junior team this week and growing interest in the long-term course being set by senior boss Juergen Klinsmann, Zelalem might end up turning to his adoptive country.”

      “’It’s a possibility to play for the U.S. in the future,’ his father, Zelalem Woldyes, told the Insider. ‘He likes the way Klinsmann is doing things. He is very happy to go to camp again. We’ll see what happens.'”

      Finally, in this short interview while he was on vacation in Miami last summer, you can really see how American Gedion seems in his accent and mannerisms, and while he mentions how “the German boys” helped him adjust to life in London with Arsenal, when the interviewer asks how it is to be back in the States he says “Yeah, I mean I love America”

      The first article from the German federation is probably good PR more than anything (take note, Benji), but it does seem pretty clear that Gedion would have no qualms about representing Germany if a clear path to PT on the senior team presented itself. However, barring a break-out of Messi-esque proportions, that path is unlikely to become clear in time for the 2018 World Cup (he’d be 21). That bodes well for USMNT fans, because it also seems like Gedion is a mature, pragmatic kid, and while he may have grown up idolizing the stars of the German team, he likely identifies more with American culture and probably would feel at home with the international flavor of the USMNT. If it looks likely that he’ll be able to make the jump to an increasingly competitive and exciting USMNT over the next couple years with a group of guys he enjoys playing with, I’m confident he’ll choose the latter.


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