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Gedion Zelalem departs VVV Venlo to join up with U.S. U-20s

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team took care of business in CONCACAF play without several big-name stars, and at least one of those stars is set to join the team for the upcoming World Cup.

VVV Venlo announced that Gedion Zelalem has departed for training camp with the U.S. U-20s with the World Cup looming. The U.S. opens the tournament on May 22 against Ecuador before facing Senegal and Saudi Arabia on May 25 and 28, respectively.

Zelalem was a member of the U.S. U-20 World Cup team back in 2015 when he made his official debut in the U.S. system after becoming eligible to represent the country. The team fell to eventual champions Serbia on penalty kicks in the quarterfinal round.

The 20-year-old midfielder, who has also featured for the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team, made nine appearances while on loan at VVV Venlo with one start.


  1. Getting excited about the next star when he is 16 or 17 is premature. If anyone could really predict which 16 year-old would become an international star in the next 8 years, the best soccer clubs in the world would be paying a lot of money for that insight.

    It is likely true that poor to average players at 16 will not become international stars, but one or two of the best few dozen16 year-olds will become stars we all know in 8 years, but which ones is unknown. As the players age, it becomes more predictable, 20 year-olds will reach top performance in only 4-6 years so their final potential can be predicted a bit more easily.

    I hope Gedion is one of those, but no one really knows.

  2. Before people jump to a conclusion on this 20 year old, has anybody seem him play lately? Let’s see what he does, still a highly talented prospect and a bright future. I think CP22 rise came so fast that some people have gotten their expectations maybe a little to high.

  3. It’s a fair point that we don’t have all that many options. I am not saying that he should not be in the squad. What I would say is that we should probably not expect him to be head-and-shoulders above others. I would expect Adams and Saucedo to be as or more valuable and neither of them would get a special article on sBI in their honor.

  4. Venlo has one match remaining and has clinched promotion. Also, with Zelalem’s loan ending there is no reason for them not to let him head to the US team early.

    As far as saying he doesn’t deserve a U20 call up have you looked at the other players on the roster? Here are the six midfielders from the qualifying tournament.

    Tyler Adams 7 career MLS starts, prior to that played 2 seasons in USL
    Luca de la Torre 3 league cup appearances and 20 appearances for Fulham U23s
    Jonathan Gonzalez no first team appearances for Monterrey
    Jeremiah Gutjahr University of Indiana
    Sebastian Saucedo 16 MLS appearances and 67 minutes in Liga Mx over two seasons
    Eryk Williamson University of Maryland

    Of the forwards only Brooks Lennon has any experience at or above MLS and that has been in the last month and a half.

  5. If you look at that roster from 2015, a handful have continued a positive trajectory in their development, like Carter-Vickers, Miazga, Hyndman, Acosta, Arriola, None of them have gone global and become the subject of transfer speculation to a big club like, say, Pulisic but they aren’t busts either. But as US fans, we lose patience when another promising prospect, like Zelalem, doesn’t not progress as we had all hoped. I blame JK…

  6. I’m not sure how many people watched the last u20 world cup but this kid was one of the top players they had and one of the youngest.

  7. I am going to take a break from really following this guy. If he could not establish himself as an important player for a team in a league that is much weaker than MLS I am not sure that he is a real prospect at this time. Not even sure that he needs to be an automatic selection for US U20 team.

    • I hear that and am tempted to do the same. On the flip side, many at Arsenal rated him very highly, and he’s impressed for the US in the past. It’s hard to imagine he slid that far, that fast. Do any of us know the full story of why he isn’t starting at Venlo? Sometimes it’s just a poor fit….

      • He was impressive at 16-17, but 2 years later looks like he is in the same place. Perhaps, he has not regressed, but has not progressed enough.

        At this point, his getting to let’s say Nagbe’s level will be a good outcome. We just probably expected too much due to the whole Arsenal thing. He also probably needs to be in that system of slick passing and complete opposite of direct approach. Probably not a good for for USMNT

    • It is also entirely possible that this was the plan all along and he was going to leave now regardless of Venlo’s performance or his importance in the squad.

    • I am going to take a break from really following this guy.

      I completely understand excitement, but there’s an irrational level of hype for countless names in the US pool that the above quote should be applied to. Far too many names tossed around that is purely conjecture and doesn’t merit obssessive references when call-ups are made.

      Zelalem is one of them, but there’s a laundry list of other names that fall under the same cautionary list.


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