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Gedion Zelalem called up by German U-18s

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Gedion Zelalem is currently in the process of becoming eligible for the U.S. Men’s National Team, but the reigning World Cup champions aren’t ready to give up on its chances of landing him.

Zelalem has been called up by the Germany Under-18 National Team for a pair of matches against France on March 27 and 30. It is unclear whether Zelalem has accepted the call-up, although it is believed that the German-born Zelalem has chosen to play for the United States and is merely awaiting a waiver from FIFA to clear him to play for the U.S.

The German U-18 friendlies would not threaten his potential ability to play for the U.S.

Last week, U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann stated his intentions of calling Zelalem up to the senior national team as soon as he is cleared by FIFA.

What do you think of Germany’s callup of Zelalem? What do you expect from him going forward?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Pingback: Ethio Info Desk
  2. This is more about Germany trying to keep us from getting anybody they could get. They did the same deal with Green and does anyone think Julian Green had/has any chance of ever playing for Germany? I don’t think he can even play for us at this point unless JK wants to save face by including him

    • Easy to belittle Green now that we’ve all seen his struggles (or see him play, for that matter). But I’d say it would have been completely reasonable as of his decision point (last year) to project that he’d be in the frame for a Germany callup some day. Why not? Plenty people with far inferior CV’s to Green’s up to then have made it into the Germany reckoning.

      I think Germany might like Zelalem, but would rather he remain uncommitted until anybody knows how good he really is. The U-18 offer is just a way of communicating that he is on their radar and has options, none of which are actually urgent.

  3. I have no problem with kids grew-up in the U.S. and not born in the U.S. playing for any USNT. But, I do have problem kids are total stranger to U.S. or never lived in the U.S. playing for USNT.

    • which isn’t Zelalem…who grew up in the DC area and learned his game with a local youth squad which got him to the Dallas Cup where Arsenal scouted him and recruited him. i mean, listen to him…if you didn’t know any better, you would say, without a doubt, he obviously grew up here and only here:

      • Yup. Every interview I’ve ever heard, kid sounds ‘Merican as it gets, to me.

        I don’t see the problem. I’ve coached a bunch of kids like him over the years who were still technically citizens of another country but who sounded American, thought American, and were going to get their American citizenship in a few years. They weren’t planning on ever going “home”…they were home. Couple of ’em could possibly factor into at least the junior USMNT setups someday and we’d be lucky to have ’em.

        What’s everyone’s worry? Soccer’s the most popular sport in the world almost everywhere but here. Stands to reason that a lot of our talent would be disproportionate in imports and dual-nationals who have spent a lot of their lives abroad. I suspect that’ll change once the MLS academies really get their feet under them and we broaden the youth base, but it’s still a ways off before the vast majority of the roster is wholly homegrown.

  4. i don’t blame him. if Germany is willing to call him up for a friendly, why not? if anything, it’s probably the right thing to do. he can go there, they can throw him whatever pitch they want, and he can make a final decision. i think he’ll end up with the US in the end though.

    i will say, the article last week (?) saying FIFA was dragging their feet due to Germany’s renewed interest is annoying but not surprising. paperwork needs to just get cleared so this can be resolved.

  5. It all comes down to how much he believes in himself. If he doesn’t think he can cut it with Germany then he’ll play for us. Hopefully not being able to get playing time with Arsenal knocked his self esteem down a couple of notches.

    • Stop it, I seriously doubt it has anything to do with if he’s good enough to play for Germany or not because all reports would suggest that’d he’d someday play for Germany if he chose to but this kid lived in MARYLAND for a big portion of his childhood and I’m pretty sure like Mix, he just loves the country that he grew up in and that had afforded his family opportunities that Ethiopia couldn’t!

    • Yeah I’m just not buying this pragmatic analysis in this case. This might be something a 45-year old would do in assessing his remaining career options, but I just don’t see it in an 18 year old kid who had already vaulted himself into an incredible position, within touching distance of the first team at a major European club. If he is like 99% of teenagers on earth (most of whom have nowhere near the foundation for such confidence), he probably thinks he is utterly invincible and impervious to failure. May those days never end, GZ.

  6. Does it matter if we have him? We have Zardes already. Zardes is the best American player out there right now. I heard Real Madrid might be interested

    • I sincerely hope Zardes is that good. Let’s see him do even better in MLS this year than last year. Let’s see him dominate MLS and put up numbers in the Gold Cup.

      Darlington Nagbe was and still is in many peoples eyes a lock for the USMNT but let’s wait until that potential is fully realized before we say someone is the US best player.

    • You can never have too many good players. Best is if we have both Z men. Even though I’m a Galaxy fan for a long time, I’m even more a US fan and I hope Zardes can find a good team in Europe during this summer’s transfer window.

  7. And now we see why JK is offering him a first team slot, pragmatism. He’s a smart recruiter and I love it. Once he’s locked into the USMNT and doesn’t cut it then he’ll get off the hype train.

    • It does seem to make more sense now. It’s also him trying to put a little pressure on FIFA to grant the switch. Really all Klinsmann said was he wants to take a look at him in a senior camp which isn’t that unreasonable. Hyndman and Rubin have been in a senior camp and even played at 18. Both have seem more first team minutes but aren’t at Arsenal either.

      • Not unreasonable for Arsenal to take a look at him on their senor squad, but our National team with much less talent than Arsenal should somehow be above it.

  8. Juergen seems desperate to remain in the good graces of the American soccer public by pushing this guy as a senior team member with virtually no first team club experience.

    • Listen, everyone needs to chill about his age. Landon Donovan was 18 when he began his senior team career too. GZ will be older than Landon was when he STARTED in matches in the 2002 World Cup finals. If we can get him into camp and start getting him senior team experience – it’ll pay off in the long run.

      • First of all, when I read Klinsman’s comments, I did not read it to mean he would be on the senior team today, but he had the talent to be on it. Two different things.

        On the LD issue, you are really overestimating how good LD was 18 if you think he was that much better than Zelalem. The truth is we don’t know either way until we watch he play. At 18 LD was playing with Bayern Leverkusen II. Those games are not shown.

        I have no issue with any manager bringing in a talented kid to the senior team to see how he looks. If he can hang you leave him. If he can’t you drop him to the U23 or maybe U20.

        Slow, I was really starting to dig you again until yyour anti-NYC rant and this “foreigner rant”. Gimme a break! This kid has lived for nearly half his life in the DC area.

      • Yup- said he’d like to call him into the seniors first to take a look. That he has the talent. That is all.

      • If only Landon had won an important honor the Golden Ball at the U-17 World Cup then we’d have a good idea of his relative talents compared to other players his age at the time.

        Oh wait…

      • First LD could not get time on the Leverkusen first team at the same age. Second, GZ chose not to play in the U17 with Germany because he wanted to maintain his US eligibility (had he played, he would be ineligible for the US). Remember, he kept pulling himself from call ups. Third, U17 Golden ball is hardly an indicator. The previous 5 winners to LD were James Will, Nii Lamptey, Daniel Addo, Mohamed Kathiry ans Sergio Santamaria. None of these guys amounted to anything special.

      • You should pay better attention. I’ve said repeatedly GZ should play for the USMNT. It’s a totally different situation from guys who’ve never lived here.

    • They play completely different positions. attacking midfielder vs forward/wing-forward. kinda comparing a slashing small forward to a point guard.

    • few thoughts:
      1) Completely disagree on your evaluation. Zardes may be better at the moment, debatable possibly. But his upside is no where near Zelalem’s.
      2) Zardes is how old?? GZ is 17 I believe.
      3) We don’t have a hard time finding athletic, tall physical forwards. We have a hard time developing #10’s.
      4) Teal Bunbury played for the USMNT more than once. Comparatively, he is horrible. And we could name quite a number of guys like this.

      But in the end, it doesn’t matter if Zardes is better, because GZ and Zardes will most likely be eligible to play for the USMNT. So we can have them both.

      • We can use them both. It’s not like right now we have a ton of good young players the quality of, say, Belgium. We have a widening talent pool, but not any world class players yet. Eden Hazard, for example, is better than any US player in history already and he’s still young.

  9. Pathetic of JK. It just shows he has hit rock bottom. Attempting to cap tie an 18 year old, when he is barely getting summoned to U-18’s for Germany… hahahahah

      • How is it xenophobia? It’s crazy for GZ to get a full national team callup. And, again, I’m all for him playing for the USMNT – when he merits a callup.

      • Saw him play with Arsenal this past summer against NYRB and you could see the quality. Had height, athleticism, and was so, so clean on the ball. Seriously talented player…on a level we just plain don’t have a ton of in the pool. Actually nobody except, well, maybe Germany has a ton of guys like that in the pool right now.

        If we gotta poach him, I’m definitely not too proud. Dunno if he’ll work out for Arsenal, but that kid would likely be a rising star in MLS already.

      • @slowleftarm, you really need chill, JK said he would call him in to get a look at him which would leave me to believe he wouldn’t be getting playing time! What’s the hurt in having him train with the senior team to see where he stacks up with the vets? Plenty of countries bring in young players to their program who have plenty of ability because they feel it could pay off in the long run both on the pitch and off of it! Let it be!

      • I don’t why some fans have this holier than thou attitude. Every team does this. People don’t grow up in the place that their parents were born. Dual nationals are extremely common and every team has dual nationals. In fact, I cannot think of one team in top 20 that has not used dual nationals.

        Additionally, I lived in Germany, and I do not know how “German” someone of Ethiopian decent really feels. My experience was everyone who was Turkish, Black, Asia (large Japanese population in the Dusseldorf area), felt “German, but” or not wholly German. I had a couple friends explain it to me. I assume Zelalem felt more at home in DC with the HUGE Ethiopian-American population.

    • Why pathetic and rock bottom? This kid is fighting in one of the best teams in the EPL with mids like Carzola and Ozil. Also Germany have a ton of talent too from in house if they are calling for a u-18 he must show some kind of talent. I hardly think that Germany is calling him in just to be petty with the US and JK.

    • Yes….. indeed…. Germany… reasonably argued as the highest quality, deepest program in the world, a top league, players littered on the world’s top clubs…. that Germany has much more talent at their disposal than the U.S. and it’s not even close. How pathetic is it to make decisions based on the truth rather than false bravado/posing or how you wish things were?

      Gedion is undoubtedly one of the top talents in the world in his age group, said to be a good kid, hard worker, has strong literal/cultural/soccer ties to the U.S., apparently wants to play for the U.S. Why in the &^%$ would anyone not want him in their program? Germany doesn’t see itself as “above” a call, but somehow we should be. LoL

      • For starters, some people hate everything JK does and others have odd notions about citizenship not constituting nationality. You can read about it here every time Julian Green or Fabian Johnson or Danny Williams or Timmy Chandler or GZ is mentioned, but not so much for Mixx or Johannssen. I won’t say more other than looking up pictures of each one should be enough info for you to figure it out.

      • I never thought of it that way. It is a very good point. Might just be a coincidence though but no one does say anything or close to the amount of negative things when it comes to Mixx and Johannssen

      • Good point. When one doesn’t think that way, it doesn’t enter your mind that others do. You certainly see this in the political arena as regards disparate treatment.

      • Do you know what, I noticed it. I brought it up once, but no one responded. In that least AJ is the “least American”. He was the one born to Icelandic parents while they were graduate students who had no desire to stay here. AJ and Mixx have less contact than some of the Germericans who people love to hate.

        At least Slow is consistent is consistent (he repeatedly mentions all), but some others seem to give a pass to Mixx and AJ.

    • in about 2-4 years you will be pretty thankful that USSF worked so hard to pull in guys like GZ and JG instead of waiting until they were better than the above average MLS option.

      or maybe you will still be grumpy and on the internet..

    • Agreed Jk does not have the capacity to work with average players and bring out the best in them. He’s not that type of coach. More of a motivational speaker with his little charts about sugar levels in players blood during the camp. But honestly if Zelalem is that good he should just play for Germany because awesome players will only shine and perform their best when surrounded by other great players that make it easy for them to shine. This won’t happen with the U.S. and people really got to forget this nonsense about a savior or Messi type player taking the U.S. to the final. That no longer works in modern football. You got to have a solid team that all play well and defend and attack as 1. With all players having a great level. They will overcome teams full of individual talent every time.

      • While I agree with you that the best teams in the modern game consciously attempt to minimize the team’s reliance on any one “superstar” player, I really don’t know how you reach the conclusion that JK does not know how to get the best out of average players. The talent deficits we faced in all four of our games in Brazil was astounding, really. Most of the opposition could probably not picked more than 1/3rd of our team out of a police lineup.

        To even refer to our players as “average” in that sort of company really is being incredibly polite. It’s entirely probable that not one of our 23 would have made the Belgium 23. Same with Germany. One could suggest we could’ve placed a couple guys in the Portugal and Ghana sides, but then again, probably not many. Heck, Ghana started with KP Boateng and Michael Essien on the Bench.

        We all know that we didn’t play stylish soccer. Anybody who expected us to stroke the ball around the park like Barca or 1970 Brazil against these kinds of players is completely out of their minds. But to say JK didn’t get a monster team effort out of this group is just confusing.

    • No idea, it’s at the whim of FIFA. Normally these situations are resolved fairly quickly, but if there’s some issue we don’t know about it could take longer.

      • Zelalem is exactly the type of foreign born player the US should be trying to cap tie. His game was mostly developed in the USA by a US club. He caught Arsenal’s eye at the Dallas cup, I believe. In a soccer sense, he is more American than anything. He demonstrates the progress being made by US soccer, and if he doesnt get the waiver it will be a travesty. That being said, U18 and U20 is the appropriate level to be calling him up, not the Senior team

  10. Though U.S. officials claim it is not a big deal, this may be due to the fact FIFA could theorically block Zelalem’s switch to the Yanks. Could be as simple as Germany saying, ‘Hey, we know the U.S. is your first choice right now, but if that doesn’t work out, we still have our eye on you and want you in our setup.’

    • I’m hoping is more of “your switch is going to take a while, rather than sit, come and play with us for while, see if you like it in case your request doesn’t pan out.”.

    • What’s odd is that FIFA would choose to use this particular issue as a battle venue in the ever-escalating Cold War currently brewing between Blatter and Gulati. It would seem Blatter’s leverage is quite low here— there is plenty of precedent to support Zelalem’s approval, which conforms to FIFA’s regulations (at least as far as I have been able to discern). Dragging a teenaged, barely-pro player into a political fight when there have been so many other opportunities to “go to war” seems confusing and irresponsible. So classic Blatter.

  11. I don’t get why Germany would do this. Don’t they normally stop pursuing dual-nationals when they express interest in the country that is not Germany?

    • They do. Think they might’ve gotten word though that FIFA has either denied US Soccer request or delayed their decision on letting Zelalem USMNT eligible

      • Zelalem has been most likely been denied his transfer switch to the U.S. due to US Soccer’s nomination of Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, a FIFA vice-president for FIFA President. Another Bladder retribution.

      • It’s time to get the best intel the CIA has on blatter and if true time to take him out. Or abduct him and waterboard the hell out of him till he admits to everything.

        I am only kidding and truly hope Blatter is not that much of a scum bag. He probably is though… damn, waterboard him.

      • He is genuinely a really bad dude. An utter sociopath with a high enough degree of intelligence to consistently outwit and burn the other maniacs in that organization.

        Waterboarding him would be a fun option (and probably polite compared to his litany of evil), but I just don’t know what he’d say. Most of the people I’ve ever met or worked with who share these traits have actually convinced themselves thoroughly of the veracity of their lies within 24 hours. He’d probably confess that is only regret was not holding the tournament on the Moon, where he has actually already invented and installed several air-conditioned stadiums with his bare hands and the gravity machine Pele gave him for Arbor Day.

      • it’s simple and was reported last week. they are still very much interested in him and it’s because of that interest that FIFA has, reportedly, been dragging their feet on approving his paperwork.

      • A lot of interesting comments here, and some speculation as well (though no less interesting).

        I can’t help but think, however, that there is one possibility that everyone has left out…. Namely, is it possible that Zelalem himself is the source of the stall? Bear in mind, few of the parties involved would be likely to disclose this, as it would involve throwing an inexperienced young prospect “under the bus” (much more believable to simply blame FIFA and the beaucratic bs of international FA’s, anyway).

        I have no evidence to support this, but I also wonder if it has crossed Gedeon’s mind to ask, “Why is everybody twisting my arm to make this decision right now? The next World Cup is three years away, and I’ve hardly played a professional match!”

        And let’s be honest with ourselves… what does Zelalem get for playing his hand now? He’s permanently killing his optionality for what… the Gold Cup? If he knows anything about the US, we’ll definitely wait on him as long as he’s any good.

        For all we know, maybe the current situation with Julian Green made him ask whether letting US Soccer shove him into a van as a teenager is the best move for him. Maybe he’d rather not play for anybody just now if involves an irreversible commitment if he is having questions involving identity.

        Lot’s of people could help engineer the delay if he had begun expressing discomfort, without killing it is an eventual option. FIFA, Wenger, the German FA, or even the USSF. Just a thought, but given we know less about this kid than we do the other parties, I just wonder if we shouldn’t ask.

    • What was the German action in regard to the Boateng brothers? One plays for Germany, the other for Ghana but I assume they had the same family and citizenship situation.

      • Kevin Prince had a falling out with the manager who said he would never play for him again. KP is excellent, but replaceable in the German system.

  12. Pffff. Sure, with Germany you could win the world cup but with the US you could win the Gold Cup. The Gold Cup it’s made of Gold. Gold, dude!

  13. Come on, Gedion, have you seen our in camp fitness program? The U.S. even provides FREE protein bars. Think the Germans can afford that kind of swag? This is a no-brainer.

    • Don’t forget the star power in the US camp. Clint Dempsey actually gave Julian Green a US jersey and a noogie on the head before Green committed.

  14. They are offering u-18, versus the US offering senior…that is WHY he is coming to the US.

    Are they trying to prove the point to GZ?

    • No lie. I guess this is their way of…wooing him.

      Klinsmann’s offering him senior team and probably Gold Cup. Right now.

      Germany’s offering him a chance to come in three full levels below the senior team. Wow.

      I guess you gotta try. He may even accept if it doesn’t change anything.

      • Don’t think the DFB are trying to convince him or pressure him. Think the might’ve gotten word that FIFA denied US Soccer request or delayed their decision on letting Zelalem play for the USMNT, thus calling him up to the U-18 team

      • “Germany’s offering him a chance to come in three full levels below the senior team. Wow.” Then is this a reflection of where the USMNT is in relation to the Die deutsche Fußballnationalmannschaf

      • Yes, they beat us 1-0, and needed an emergency save that cleared Bedoya’s shot off the goal line in extra time to beat us.

        Yes, they dominated possession, and then turned around and trucked Brazil 7-0 en route to winning the World Cup, but much-maligned Fitness Guru Klinsmann’s boys were still running at the end while Germany’s were wobbling…he went for the smash-and-grab and almost got it.

        There is not an insurmountable mountain there…and good recruiting of key dual-nationals like Zelalem is going to be part of climbing it. I dunno if anybody can “guarantee” a WC – having a Golden Generation pop up in addition to having a durn good development system seems to be the big difference between being a Top-10 team and winning it all – but I definitely think we can aspire to get into that top tier…and give ourselves a chance.

      • come on, if Germany wanted to they could have scored 4 or more goals against us in that game, they were already qualified and saving themselves for the round of 16.

      • I believe that in a decade or two, it is possible that the benefits of a “golden generation” (often thought of as a purely”lucky” phenomenon) may have been all-but-eradicated by more quantifiable and controllable advancements in development.

        In my observation, there is absolutely no factor more important to national team success than the number of reps players get playing competitive games together. This is one reason you see such heavy investment in identifying youth groups, which are then treated almost like “classes” going up through the u20 (or u-23) level, with core groups kept together (with some attrition to accommodate emerging talent), while striving toward a consistent style. This maximizes the exposure of players to one another within a unified concept, and gives a strong foundation for competition given the limited prep time these groups get together as professionals.

        In Germany and Spain, top players are concentrated together at the club level, as well. Germany effectively have a “National Club Team” in Bayern, with nearly the entire first choice pool having spent at least some time together with others in this framework. Spain relies heavily on two clubs, which may be different in style, but still offers far greater continuity than the USMNT can currently hope for in our diaspora of host clubs

        For us, the Belgium offers the most encouraging blueprint… If you loook at the age profile of their team, it is highly clustered with few outliers. Though few of their very talented players play together domestically, they have had years of experience playing together through the development ranks, and they have a very high awareness of strategy, roles, and collective tactics.

        Having a “Golden Generation” of superb individual talents can be accretive to this, but it cannot replace it. The failures of the recent England and Portugal golden generations in realizing the presumed potential owed much to inability of the “stars” to settle into a cohesive and familiar unit

      • From what I understand Europeans don’t put much stock into the U20 World Cup and find the Euro U21 tournament more important and the U18 is a stepping stone to that.

    • JK is more or less guaranteeing GZ 3 World Cups. Germany is saying he has a shot, maybe someday.

      I have no doubt that JK made the same offer to Green.

      What does Wenger have to say about his choice?

      • First, he should have to earn his place in the USMNT but also, if he plays for Germany at a world cup he has a decent chance of winning it whereas with the USMNT…well maybe someday we’ll win it but GZ will long retired by then.

      • I would think one World Cup with a significant chance of bringing home the hardware is infinitely more interesting than three participant ribbons (none of which are “guaranteed”)

        Guys like Zelalem and Green (at least as of his decision point last spring) really have no reason to doubt they could play for Germany. Why would 17-18 year old kids — elite level prospects who have greatly outpaced their age groups for their entire lives– suddenly start betting against themselves right as their pro careers were hatching?

    • My take on this is that the Germans have interest in retaining him. This is a good thing and justifies JK’s high opinion of him. And, of course, he won’t make the German first team soon. They are the best in the world, beating Brazil 7-0 in Brazil, in case anyone has forgotten. I’m sure a whole lot of other countries would like to get a kid so promising that the Germans want him and he is close to making the Arsenal roster at 18.

      • Yes I think our benevolent uncles in Germany may be looking to curb their young nephew Jurgen’s sticky-fingered enthusiasm over there. Seems they told JK: “You can take whatever you like from the basement until you get your American house fully furnished. Just don’t touch anything labeled ‘Franz B.’” And it’s been a good deal. We have gotten some nice contributions to help flesh out our modest and functional (if technically limited) collection of current wares (though still haven’t found the item that “really ties the room together” since those nihilists defiled Stu Holden)

        All of this would be great if JK didn’t have a habit of making enemies—I’m honestly confused by why he would choose the media as the outlet do disclose his intentions to use Zelalem immediately. Sounds like we had a solid claim to the “inside track” on the kid. Why not let Gulati just shove thing through quietly (as he had been), and reserve your player-specific communications to Zelalem directly. JK is a brilliant guy, but his charisma is a gift that does not always yield great decisions

        The guys we have recruited away from Mexico and Germany might not have been slam dunk contributors at future WC’s for those teams, but they are not Davis Regis, either. For a minimal resource commitment involving pitching the kid a few times, the US gets a commitment (permanent. usually, once the basic cap-tying standards are met) to a player from a top European program for whom they contributed no development expenses. And if they don’t like him after a few tries, they have no obligation to use him again. It’s a good gig…. Not something you want to ruin by gloating. Germany may be stacked, but If a guy like Brooks, Green, etc. one day does become an all-planet player, some people will have to answer some uncomfortable questions. They are probably looking to gauge whether Zelalem might still prefer to play for Germany or, just as importantly, might prefer to suspend his decision rather than be whisked to the alter after barely finishing his first date with professional first-team soccer.

        Hate to say it– because I really don’t want to see any top prospect get cold feet – but I would have to respect this if he suddenly announced he’d like another year to make up his mind. If he is as good as we all seem to think, JK isn’t going to blacklist him because he wouldn’t make an irreversible career decision as a teenager over this tournament. I might actually prefer we spend whatever time we get with him force feeding him cheeseburgers and creatine. The sight of him currently makes me recall numerous grade-school jokes about Ethiopians, a trend which I had been happy to leave in the past.

    • More like the nerve of JK! Attempting to bring in MORE foreign based players not even born in the United States! It just shows he has absolutely no faith in MLS players, and prefers to call up players in other leagues BUT the MLS.

      • Hey, I was hired to field the best team of American’s out there. If that means going to find American’s outside of America, so be it. You want to win a world cup, or not?

      • No, I don’t want to “win a world cup” with a team full of Germans and, since these guys aren’t any better than the guys we have now for the most part, we aren’t going to win the world cup with them anyway. He isn’t finagling US passports for guys who would be regulars for the full German national team.

        Zelalem grew up in Maryland, learned the game there, and I’m all in favor of him playing for the USMNT. At this point, I don’t think he’s accomplished enough to merit a full national team call-up though.

      • No faith in MLS players? Did you watch the world cup? Half the roster and half the starters were from MLS.

        Also, I find it incredibly naive for american soccer fans to complain about foreign players w/ ties the the US representing us. We are a collection if immigrants and different cultures. Plus that person has to CHOOSE to play for the US, so you can’t question their motivation and love for the country. Get over it, it’s going to continue to happen.

      • ^^ FInally someone with a brain. These players obviously would not get a crack at the German National Team, but they could easily walk onto the USMNT. Ride the pine with Germany or start for the US. What do you think is better?

      • You know this how? Did you interview them or, even better, psychoanalyze them? Why do some people living here have so little faith and belief in this country? The LA Times last Sunday had an interesting article about the growth of MLS and why/how it is attracting more top quality foreign players. Guess, what, they like living in the US and prefer it to other countries. Shocker, huh. Bradley Wright Phillips said that after being here two weeks he knew he didn’t want to go back. And those who come here then spread the word to other soccer players.David Villa came to NYFC way sooner than he needed to because he wanted to learn English. When Pep Guardiola left Barcelona, he moved to NYC. People literally die to get into this country. Why should soccer players be any different? This is a big reason why I predicted a year ago that MLS would equal or exceed League MX in 3 to 5 years.

      • Of course people love living in the US. It’s awesome compared to pretty much anywhere else and I say that as someone who has lived abroad on multiple occasions. That doesn’t mean anyone that shows up here should play for our national team.

        Plus, some of these guys, like Ashton Gotz, has barely set foot in the US. I suppose this is easier than developing our own players but I’d rather get lesser results (I actually don’t think they’d be lesser) than have this mass influx of passport Americans into the USMNT.

      • poaching a player from a different country developed by another system is not the same thing as accepting immigrants coming to live in your country and offer them the chances they couldn’t get at their own home, most of these guys were born and raised in Europe, the analogy would make sense if they were born there and developed here in the states. They are basically mercenaries who accept calls to benefit their careers and people should just accept it as it is, is not different from Qatar giving citizenship to brazilians or Algeria recruiting french-algerians from Ligue 1.

      • Uh… French-Algerians are still Algerians! If your parents are Italian, but you are born raised in NY, you are still part of the Italian diaspora.

      • If Zelalem feels like he has a strong connection to the US why should he not be able to represent our country? He lived here for a good amount of time.

        I do agree JK should rely less on these dual nationals ideally, but getting Zelalem capped and commited to us is a good thing.

      • I read an article about Zelalem where it said he has always considered himself an American. He was raised here. His friends are here. He speaks the language. He only left to go to Europe because he wanted to play professional soccer. His case is a bit different then that of Tim Chandler and Julian Green.

      • Bob Bradley’s 2010 squad had 4 MLS players.

        JK’s 2014 squad had 10 MLS players.

        There are plenty of good reasons to criticize Klinsmann. An unwillingness to play MLS players is not one of them.

      • Very true, but the math gets a little fuzz. Players like Dempsey and Bradley are on both rosters and now count as MLS players which would change the breakdown a little. 6 vs 10. Also 2010 may have been one of the heights of Americans playing abroad.

      • For all those complaining, JK was hired to improve the US team. He will be judged by how well they do. How well they do well be largely determined by the quality of players he has to work with. Ergo, in order to be successful, he needs to have the best players he can get on the team. In the future when people look at the US National Team results, they won’t go through the roster and say, Gee, that guy could have played for another country. Only a few zealots here care about this. Everyone else in the world only looks art the scoreline. It is how JK will be judged. He would be foolish to turn down talented players just because they don’t meet someone’s definition of American. Only FIFA’s definition of American counts. This is how the real world works..

      • No doubt. If you look at the typical “[Coach’s Name] Era” epitaph for any sports program, there is no bigger driver of perception than the results and/or honors won during his tenure.

        And this is part of what makes JK’s mandate so difficult. Gulati’s thesis in bringing JK for the reasonably successful Bradley was about making structural changes that would enable us to be contenders at the very top (World Cup) level someday. Unfortunately, the problem was not simply “tactical tweaks” or “personnel swaps”.

        The problem was, and remains, the quality of our player pool. It just isn’t reasonable to expect World Cup wins when your starting XI in the R16 game at a World cup has an aggregate estimated market value of 28.9 million, less than the single transfer fees of multiple individuals with the Belgium side, and about 10% of the value of the Belgium XI

        Logically, I can think of three core ways to improve the quality of a country’s players:

        1) Increase the size of the pool itself, by identifying new pockets of eligible players to include in the selection process
        2) Improve the quality of the players in the existing pool through improved training methods, etc.
        3) Improve both the quality and quality of the future player pool by improving development programs & infrastructure

        Clearly (3) above is the most important and realistic part of JK’s mandate. But by nature, it takes time. Probably a decade to see the first players who have comprehensively gone throgh the “new” system. Americans don’t do well wiith 6-month plans, let alone 10-year plans. But it can be achieved. Just ask Belgium.

        As for (2), this is far fetched, particularly for a NT coach. Once a player has reached the int’l professional level, his improvement is likely to be predictable and minor. And because NT managers work with their players so infrequently, it’s really the primary purview of the clubs

        (1) is the most intriguing because it allows the coach to improve the quality of the quality of the players in both the short and long-term. JK’s strong performance in both identifying and securing commitments from ready-to-use from players outside the previous pool has helped Klinsmann to placate the innate sense of impatience that Americans just can’t shake, and deliver some long-term procurement value for the future.

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