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Gyasi Zardes credits mentors after seeing USMNT career rise further


Photo by Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports


FOXBOROUGH, Mass, – Gyasi Zardes may have been one of the lone bright spots on Friday night, but the U.S. Men’s National Team forward knows that performances like the one put forth against Haiti are about much more than just him.

Zardes proved to be the difference maker for the U.S., playing helper in setting up Clint Dempsey’s game-winning finish in an ugly 1-0 win over Haiti on Friday night. Entering at halftime, Zardes proved menacing, running repeatedly up and down the left wing and giving Haiti more problems by himself than the rest of his teammates had in the first half.

The performance was just the latest to show improvements for Zardes, who continues to be a key contributor to the national team less than eight months after his first call-up. Despite all of the praise and accolades that come from his continued international rise, Zardes is quick to give credit to the elite players that he is fortunate to be surrounded by for both club and country.

“You’ve got Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, these are the top and I’m just trying to be a player like those guys,” said Zardes. “I’m just trying to pursue my career and hopefully be like them one day. Hopefully, I can just keep growing as a player.

“It’s a lot of confidence coming from that,” Zardes added. “I’ve learned so much from Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan. I always pick their brain with the LA Galaxy and they give me helpful tips. That’s what really made me feel at home with these guys on the national team as well. It’s just phenomenal being in the same atmosphere with all of these top talents.”

As Zardes continues to establish himself in that realm of international talent, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann pointed out that the forward is still in the process of finding his place among the national team.

Klinsmann was quick to state the known positives of Zardes’s game: his speed, his ability to take people on, his creativity and clinical touch in the box. What impresses Klinsmann the most isn’t Zardes’ physical prowess, but rather his innate ability to keep his head firmly planted upon his shoulders at all times.

“With Gyasi it’s a process that we are watching, that we are helping with,” Klinsmann said. “His club, as well, is doing a tremendous job. There’s a lot of talent, a lot of potential and we just want to tell him every day that it’s one step at a time.

“He brings a positive attitude to the game, to his work. He’s not shy of doing extra (work) whenever you ask him something. He’s a curious personality. He wants to constantly learn. It’s a real joy to work with him.”

Zardes went onto confess that he has become a bit of a film junkie, thriving on all of the resources provided to him to analyze his performance after each and every game. The repeated analyzing has helped the 23-year-old Zardes establish himself out wide as a midfielder, which is different than his more preferred forward position.

But for Zardes the spot on the field matters little, and the goal remains the same. No matter where he lines up, Zardes has one idea in mind: Attack.

Whether the target is the opposing defenses or his continued opportunities with the national team.

“I feel like when I play out wide, I want to be a more attacking threat,” Zardes said. “Defensively, I’m doing well, but I just want to attack every chance I get the ball. I just want to go forward. I don’t want to go backwards or sideways, I want to go forward.

“Obviously it’s your first time with this group,” he added, “but I feel like the more games, the more chances I have with the coaches and this team, I’m starting to become more comfortable with my own character. “


  1. Beyond his immense attacking abilities what impressed me most last night was his high soccer IQ. There was a moment on one of Haiti’s counter attacks when both Bradley and Diskerud where caught out of position defending the wings and a huge pocket of undefined do space was open right at the top of our box just asking for a Haiti attacker to exploit that space.

    I saw Zardes recognize the threat and occupy the space for long enough so Bradley and Diskerud could get organized defensively again. This is the type of soccer IQ or dare I say heart or hustle that you rarely see for such a talented attacking player.

    Last season with the Galaxay was really his first season playing week in and week out and I would hate to see his talent wasted on an EPL bench or worse a bunker and over the top long ball type club with no finesse like Sunderland.

    But at 23 he needs to start getting paid the big money. Your shelf life is short as a footballer. I think it be much better for him to stay away from the constant manager turnover found at in EPL and head instead to more stable clubs in Germany or Spain or a Champions league club in Portugal, France, or Holland.

    • From everything I have seen and read, he is dedicated, hard working, humble, and anxious to learn. He got a relatively late start for a soccer player, but I think his potential could be as high as any player now in the US pool from age 15 on up. This is why he really needs to go to a good European team.

      • Gary Page, concur with all you posted here accept for the heading to Europe at this time. With a healthy Robbie Keane, Steven Garrard and Gio Dos Santos into the LAGals, there’s not a better opportunity for him to experience the kind of play that he’ll be a starter in through the end of the MLS season. It’s all good for Gyasi, especially as Bruce Arena is also a strong developmental idealist in LA, Possibly after the MLS season would be a time to consider Europe, and hopefully on an aggressive creative team where a young budding star such as him can thrive. To have him go there now would be holding him back in comparison to what he’s headed into once this Gold Cup segment finishes.

  2. 1. I think Zardes has done developing with the Galaxy, but in a about a year or two I would like to see him go to Europe.

    2. I would really like to see him up top more with Dempsey instead of Altidore. Dempsey and Zardes all around seems to have good chemistry, and considering Zardes’ desire to learn and his respect for Dempsey, him and Deuce could be a real force. With Dempsey’s finishing and great movement in space, we’ve seen Zardes make good, quality passes in the box which is what Dempsey needs to score the most goals possible.

    • Altidore killed several possessions, most notably on the offsides no goal. On that play, once he decided not to shoot, he failed to spot a wide open MB90 at the 18, and then he got rid of it too late. I used to be a big Jozy fan, but I think we’re better w/o him. Maybe playing with a target forward engaged in hold up play is dated and stifling. IMO the talent pool at forward now is better than ever. It could get even tighter if Boyd is able to recover from his injuries and show the form he had at the beginning of last year.

      • i do agree that he should have shot it with his left before cutting back BUT, with the correct call from the ref, he would have gotten an assist with his perfectly timed pass to AJ. simply put, hold all else constant and only change the ruling to ‘not-offisdes” and then its a goal (assist for him)– i.e. he didn’t get rid of it too late.

  3. The Galaxy knew what they were doing when they signed him to a record “homegrown player” contract. Had they not, he was a consensus 1st round MLS Super Draft choice. The fact was that Zardes wanted to join the Galaxy, but played a little hard to get, which insured a generous contract, for a rookie. from the Galaxy. He had an OK rookie season, but towards the end of his rookie season, he started scoring some good goals. The season that Zardes spent at the Galaxy Academy, was also the last season of David Beckham,whom spent time with Zardes and several other Galaxy academy standouts. This segued into his first two pro season where Donovan and Keane mentored him on passing and the discipline and focus of scoring. His 10 goals that last season with Donovan shows he absorbed his knowledge well.

    So you can imagine his progress now that he will be playing and training day in and day out with Robbie Keane and now, Steven Gerrard, a Liverpool and EPL legend, and how his “next level” will progress. With a possible addition of Giovanni Dos Santos, who also can play as a forward or a winger and play similarly to Zardes,i.e., he has good technical ability, speed and frequent runs into the box, will even push him farther. Wen Zardes leaves the USMNT after the Gold Cup, he will be in the enviable position of continuing his progress at Galaxy U.

  4. Zardes, once he came in, actually played with urgency and attacked the goal rather than just stopping in the final third and looking confused, like the entire squad did in the first half. Dempsey and Johannsson were clearly energized when he came on the field. He created multiple danger moments by simply being aggressive and moving forward. Most of the players on the squad have looked timid and lethargic in the first two games, and basically seem shocked by the intensity. Would be nice to see some swagger and flair on the field, maybe from an Agudelo or Nguyen to go along with Zardes (Feilhaber probably could to, but oh well, that as been discussed ad nauseum). Shockingly enough, this squad is also missing Morris as a late game sub.

    • Didn’t you see the news about Morris? He’s had surgery for a leg fracture. As for intensity, I think some players are surprised both by intensity and by CONCACAF. I remember one point in the first game when Brooks was blatantly fouled and there was no whistle and he had kind of a look of astonishment on his face. I said to the TV, “Welcome to CONCACAF.” I think Chandler has had a problem with those two things, too. Some Euro snobs downplay the difficulty in playing in this region and I don’t think guys like Chandler and Brooks are ready at first for things like incredible heat and humidity and having batteries and human excrement thrown at you, or people serenading your hotel room at 3 in the morning with conga drums,.

  5. While I applaud Zardes’s improvements he has a long ways to go. So far he’s been great as a super sub, but needs to figure things out if he’s going to be a true threat as a starter. I don’t believe that he needs to move abroad at this point in his career. He’s got a great mentor in Keane and now Garrard to continue his development.
    Best aspect is that he adds another player who can play multiple positions and give the US more options to the substitutions and player rotations.

    • That’s spot on.
      Here’s your two options young man:
      1- Stay where you are for now, continue what you’re doing for club and country, and be a sponge working with Robbie Keane and now Steven Gerrard
      2- Roll the dice and go to Europe
      I vote #1

      • You people have no idea what you are talking about. I feel so certain of this that I will gladly admit that I am wrong if shown to be the case and expect the same from the doubters here when I am proven correct.

      • Why is it that no one said this about Yedlin? Or Agudelo? I think Zardes has shown on the pitch that he is further advanced than either of those guys, and maybe equivalent to Dempsey when he went to Fulham. Dempsey had played 3 seasons at New England, this will be the third season for Zardes at LA. I think he should go because he can go and earn minutes at a higher level of play than with the Galaxy. I foresee him one day playing at a team the level of Schalke when J. Jones was there–good enough to play in CL.

      • I think everyone’s situation is different. I personally never thought Shea or Aguedelo should have gone. Yedlin I was 50/50 on, and it’s too early to see if he’ll see the field. I just think with the guys around him in LA one more year would be perfect.
        I don’t disagree that an offer is forthcoming, nor do I disagree that he’s got “IT”, I just think another year would be his best move. Just my opinion.

  6. Zardes is immensely talented, but still raw. His game needs refinement. He’s fine in MLS for now. Furthermore, it’s tough to see a team with potential relegation concerns taking a chance, especially with limits on foreign players and work permit headaches. Scouts need to ask themselves, is he a Dempsey or a Shea? There’s novway to know unless you give him a chance. When coaches get sacked for losing 3 games in a row, they don’t have patience for developing players. Sad, but true.

    • W/r/t limits on foreign players, the limit is you can’t have more than 17 out of 25 roster spots be foreigners.

      Unless he’s going to Chelsea or Man City, I don’t think that’s remotely a problem among plausible EPL landing spots.

    • Since this seems a common refrain here, let me point out that teams buy players on the basis of potential all the time. Stoke really wanted Agudelo, Arsenal got Joel Campbell when he was a nobody playing in the Costa Rican league, as I recall, Chicharito had one mediocre year, almost quit soccer, then had a good year and then Man U picked him up. I’ve been touting this kid for over a year and he keeps proving me right. I think we may see something like what Yedlin got. Zardes will get a good offer from a European team, he will play out the rest of the MLS season, and then go in the January transfer window. I think Klinsmann will urge him to do so because for Zardes to realize all his potential he need a higher level of play than in MLS. He will also make a lot more money.

    • As it is now Zardes is eligible for a UK work permit as he’s been a part of 80 percent of USMNT for the year. I do expect that the Galaxy have had interest and maybe even offers. I think Zardes and the Galaxy do not believe he is ready to go to Europe and make an impact.
      Besides, with all the new arrivals, it’s a good time to be a member of the Galaxy

    • That’s the key DanO, if he goes to Europe now or at the end of this year/MLS season…, which I think he should wait until next Summer and start a European season when he’s in form from being in midseason from MLS and off of CONCACAF qualifiers maybe 6 under his belt by then…and a Full Gold Cup as well…it would give him a great chance to impress in preseason for a European club barely getting their players fit to play….and give him minutes right off the bat to maybe slowly earn a starting spot….lets him rest a little after what might be almost a nonstop year and and a half…to slowly earn minutes back from his usual 90 in MLS and tons with the USMNT…

      But the key is for him to go with a league that is NOT the EPL….have him go to Holland like Jozy…imagine him at AZ with Aron and what it would do for them as far as chemistry for both club and the Nats? He might be a big purchase for AZ being a small club but I could see it…7-10 million maybe? Big chunk for Galaxy and MLS… Better yet what if say Ajax or PSV could want him? Or have hi go to France at a club like Lille or Marseille or someone competing for a CL spot…Portugal…maybe he joins Porto or Sporting where Iker just signed and where former Sounders Freddy Montero went

  7. “I’ve learned so much from Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan.” No wonder this guy has been a hit with me. The spirit of Landon lives in the USMNT. Resourceful, high work rate and humble.

  8. He’s fine in LA if he’s developing. Elite college basketball players often have to consider whether to stay in school, and I think the metaphor works for US soccer players. Imagine if Altidore had stayed with AZ for another year.
    The narrative with Zardes has consistently been that he’s learning and not a finished product. He’s starting with his club and will probably be starting for USMNT before the end of the Gold Cup. All he has to do right now is keep on rolling.

  9. If there isn’t a sizable offer for him from a top European league (like Stoke City or equivalent), then you know there is definitely an anti-US bias. Considering how he has played in every US national team game this year, he shouldn’t have any trouble getting a work permit.

    • More likely an “anti non-traditional soccer country” bias. I doubt he’d encounter bias if he was from another country that fit that description.

    • Actually right now he would need an appeal on the basis that he’s a “Exceptional Young Talent” or whatever they call it in the FA for British Work Permits to go play in the EPL..Unless you have a European Passport or are from an African Nation, something about developing Football nations which I find as BS….we should have that in Concacaf for players from both US and Mexico not to meniton rest of region like Najar in Belgium now..but yeah unless you have European Passport you have to had played in 75% of your national Team’s matches for the last TWO years…at the end of the year assuming the US makes the final and Zardes plays in all of the remaining 4 potential matches and plays in both Sep, Oct friendlies…and then in both qualifiers in November…that would put him at 20..maybe then he could could apply for one after the January camp…say they play 1 or 2 friendlies then….it would put him at 21 or 22 of the last 2 years worth of games for the US….which is 36 by February and 37 by March…which he could have 24 caps out of 36 for 66% at that point he MIGHT win an appeal for British UK Work Permit….but he would be better served waiting until he has the caps to get it out right which will be probably next Summer, especially with the Copa America Centenario and 4 Qualifiers in March and May before that….


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