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Zardes ready to prove himself once again with USMNT opportunity


In the two years since his last goal for the U.S. Men’s National Team, Gyasi Zardes has been through a winding path that has led him back into the squad for the upcoming matches against Brazil and Mexico.

The 27-year-old sits fourth in the Major League Soccer Golden Boot race with 15 goals in his first season with the Columbus Crew, who enter the international break in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Zardes carved out a role in Gregg Berhalter’s system almost immediately, as he established himself as the goal-scoring No. 9 the Crew need for their system to operate at its best.

Just playing in a defined role for the entire season is a welcome sight for Zardes, who at times in 2017 featured at right back for the LA Galaxy.

“Playing the same position each and every single week, day in and day out really helps a player become confident in what position he’s playing,” Zardes said.

“I know Gyasi well. I coached him for years,” USMNT interim manager Dave Sarachan said. “He’s a great pro. He’s having a great season. He’s earned the right to be here and I think he’s embraced the system in Columbus, but I think he can be a real handful as a number nine.”

The owner of 38 international appearances and six goals for the USMNT enters this particular camp as one of the veteran leaders.

Zardes is the second-oldest player in the 25-man squad preparing for Friday’s match against Brazil, with only 29-year-old Eric Lichaj older than him.

Although Zardes is one of the most experienced players at interim manager Dave Sarachan’s disposal, he’s still treating camp like a player hungry to earn his first cap.

“It feels great being back here with the national team.” Zardes said. “It’s a huge honor to represent your country, but also a bunch of great players here. It’s an amazing opportunity for myself to prove myself and also utilize this week to get better. Columbus doesn’t have a game this weekend so it’s a good opportunity for myself to get better.”

Zardes’ perspective is valuable to the USMNT entering the matchup with the Selecao at MetLife Stadium, as he is one of three holdovers from the 4-1 defeat suffered at Gillette Stadium in 2015.

After facing Brazil, the USMNT’s latest clash with Mexico comes into the spotlight on Tuesday.

“It’s a great opportunity to play some of the best players in the world,” Zardes said. “Brazil is a great opponent, and for us, it gives an opportunity to see where we are against those guys. Against Mexico it’s always a battle and once again it’s going to be a great opportunity to play against some of the best players.”

Zardes’ direct competition for a starting spot is Andrija Novakovich and Bobby Wood.

You could argue Wood is the most established international player of the three, but Zardes is in the best form at the moment.

With Jozy Altidore out of the mix and the forward depth chart not as deep as it has been in past years, Zardes has a perfect opportunity in front of him to succeed under his old assistant coach with the LA Galaxy.

If he extends his form onto the international stage, Zardes will establish himself as one of the top players on the USMNT depth chart with more high-profile games ahead in the fall.


  1. Prove himself once again? Has he ever proved himself? If he starts and shows nothing then hopefully it will be the last time. We need to go better and younger.

  2. Klinsmann and Arena did not agree on many things. One thing they have agreed on is that Zardes should be on the USMNT. Those who disparage him don’t know enough. Not only his work rate, but his selflessness are outstanding attributes. According to reports from the Galaxy camp over the years, Zardes is one of those guys who puts in extra time before and/or after practice. He helps out on defense and does a lot of the little things that coaches appreciate. Also, he is an outstanding guy who used his own money to set up a youth soccer program in his hometown of Hawthorne in the LA area. That makes me think that he is a positive force in the locker room. Finally, no American has scored as many goals in MLS this season. How can you ignore that?

    • I completely agree. And how many times have we been able to see him at his natural position with the USMNT? I can’t think of any. I’m excited to see it honestly, specifically his almost unmatched work-rate and what that might open up. Too bad he doesn’t get Pulisic to link up with.

  3. Well, there is no one else that has Jozy’s pure physical skills, but it’s the rest of the attributes that make him inconsistent. Honestly, Zardes when healthy is not far off Jozy in athleticism, and offers so much more in terms of work rate and hustle. Sarachan is obviously looking to play with one striker or a center forward given the three forwards called.

  4. I’ve been hard on zardes over the last few years about his first touch and everything but I’m happy he got healthy and is playing well, seems like a good dude but what can he bring to the team? Would rather have Jozy than him if it had to be one of the two. Not sure what Dave’s plan is here. If I’m Earnie Stewart I would like younger guys to play and in different formations to see which best fits them and see what manager best fits the team because that’s what I thought his role was going to be to determine the style of play. So I hope its not a 4-1-4-1 again and the one time he did switch was to 5 at the back and then defended the whole game against France. I would rather lose 4-1 or 5-2 with an attack minded team against a top tier opponent then park the bus and show nothing but long balls.


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