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Gent midfielder Saief says it’s ‘matter of time’ before USMNT call-up


Kenny Saief 1 (Getty Images)

Kenny Saief has represented Israel several times on the youth level, but the Gent midfielder says he expects to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team in the very near future.

Speaking to Israeli outlet Sport5, Saief revealed that, although he has yet to receive an official call-up, he believes that it is merely “a matter of time” before he represents the U.S. Men’s National Team. The 21-year-old midfielder, who was born in Panama City, Fla., has made 11 appearances for Belgian giants Gent this season, scoring two goals while adding four assists

“At least the United States appreciates me,” Saief told Sport5. “I have not decided if that’s what I want, I’m in a serious dilemma. I consulted with my mother. In two weeks, I will come to Israel for winter holidays. I’ll sit down with my family and I will see what happens. But as of now it looks like my best option, because the Israeli national team, no one talked to me at all.

“I’ve been two years in Belgium, and they’ve never came to see the game. That says it all. Not even a phone call. I play for the champion of Belgium, in the Champions League, I expect interest and nothing. Though makes the team did not come, I do not know what to do. Players even ask me why they don’t invite me. But coach has his decisions and through each one, he has cast his favorite. Always my heart was with the team and I will always want her to win. It’s my dream to play in the World Cup. If the team would like me would not think twice, but it not the case. When you love someone, but the other side look down on you …. what can I say.”

Saief most recently featured in Gent’s UEFA Champions League victory over Lyon that booked the club a spot in the competition’s knockout phase.

What do you think of Saief’s statements? How would he fit in with the USMNT?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. CAP TIE HIM!! He clearly loves the US and wants nothing to do with Israel. I want only players that want to play for the US and this guy fits to a T!

    • Looks like reports are already out for him to get called up to USMNT per Jurgi does not wait too long- if you have a passport or could get one, just raise your hand and a call up is there

  2. Funny,….he is desperate to play for Israel and he is desperate to play in a World Cup. I got news for him,…they are mutually exclusive.

    • There is definitely a “Dempsey 2.0 ” feeling to this kid… A little bit of attack and flare plus a little bit of chip on the shoulder and a desire to play at the highest level… Might be a good recruit!

      By the way, this ” matter of time ” comment sounds like there might be some paperwork already filed and the kid is waiting.

      • Not a bad comparison…but will add that he appears to have a bit more speed than Dempsey. I wouldn’t be against his getting a call up in order to have a closer look at how he’d potentially fit in the team.

    • I assume you meant to say “…like Dempsey, except with a high work rate off the ball” instead of “…like Dempsey with a high work rate off the ball.” As much as I wish Dempsey worked hard off the ball, he is more likely to be seen walking around hoping someone wins the ball and gives it to him (see game vs Mexico 10/2015 as exhibit A and more than a few Sounders games as Exhibits B, C, D…)

  3. Never seen him play but if he is a regular starter for Gent he deserves a look if he is interested. there aren’t too many US elidgible players getting regular minutes in a decent champions league level team.

  4. This is an odd article. No background info beyond the fact that he was born in Florida. Where did he play his youth soccer? at what age did he leave FL? Sounds like his mother/family are in Israel, so I assume that’s where he grew up. And it doesn’t tell us what position he plays, beyond the fact that he’s a midfielder. I guess I could have googled him in the time it took me to post this comment and maybe found some intel…

    • But isn’t that what we come to SBI for? They seem to be slacking more and more. Just regurgitating stories with no incite really to speak of.

    • As Ben has said: Ives has all but abandoned SBI and the journalists seem to be cutting their teeth in the industry with us serving as witnesses to their lack of experience or prestige.

      I can’t fault someone for breaking into the industry however they can but the quality of the website is in dire straits. If only there was a valuable alternative.

    • Born in Florida while his parents were working here. Moved back to Israel at age four. Pretty tenuous connection to the US, and it’s clear he’s only interested because he isn’t feeling sufficiently loved by his home country, but players with lesser connections have been courted by JK and fawned over by USMNT fans with an inferiority complex about US soccer. No doubt we’ll be hyping this Belgian league player as though he’s the second coming of Paul Pogba.

    • Kenny was born in Florida but moved back to Israel with his parents at the age of 2. He was raised in Israeli football systems including one of the top youth clubs, Beitar Nes Tubruk. He spent 2 years as a youth player with 1860 Munich and then came back to Israel and played for Ironi Ramat Gan for a couple of years. He had a great season for a youngster in 20142015 I believe but he couldn’t save the club from relegation.

      He then had a huge contract issue between Nes Tubruk and Maccabi Haifa, a big Israeli club who wanted him, but Saief wanted to go abroad and after many months got his wish. Now he’s playing with Gent in the Champions League.

  5. Had anyone here heard of this guy before? He makes it sound like he has heard from the US since he complains about not hearing from Israel. Maybe SBI needs to start including him in Americans Abroad.

  6. He’s gonna need a one-time switch to play with the US since he has competitive youth caps for Israel. That and the fact that we don’t have any matches (excluding the Jan. camp) until March means he might get a call from Israel.

    Sounds a bit like the approach that Tyler Boyd and Isaac Brizuela used to get attention (and caps).

      • Well it also sounds like people from the USMNT set up have been in contact with him, as opposed to the Israeli setup. But the Google translation is strong with this one.

    • I am always up for accepting players who have US citizenship as long as their hearts are with it. In this case, however, his heart is CLEARLY with the Israeli National Team. However, they may never select him (for what ever reasons: coach favors a player as a better fit or team balance or political reasons).


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