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Yunus Musah commits to the USMNT

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The Yunus Musah sweepstakes are over and the U.S. Men’s National Team has emerged as the big winner.

The Valencia midfielder has confirmed that he will represent the United States on the international level, deciding to commit to his country of birth rather than England or Italy, where he spent large portions of his childhood, and Ghana, which he was eligible to represent through his parents.

Musah had represented England on the Youth National Team level previously, but the USMNT began courting Musah in 2020, calling him up and giving him his first two international appearances back in March, when he was still just 17.

Now 18, Musah has decided to stick with the United States, where he joins a strong generation of young talents that has the USMNT looking like a potential force heading toward the 2022 and 2026 World Cups.

“I think it was pretty clear for me to decide to play for the United States,” Musah said. “First of all, I think it makes sense to represent the country I was born in. The moment I decided to play for the United States came one day when my heart told me that this was the best place for me.

“The project that we have now and for the future is so exciting, and it’s a great pleasure to be able to be a part of that,” Musah said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

“Yunus is an exceptional talent. For his age, it’s impressive what he can do,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said. “When the group first met him, we were immediately drawn to his personality and what a great person he is. When you see him play, you realize there is a ton of talent as well. We’re really excited, because not only is Yunus a player for today, he’s a player for the future.”

Musah has enjoyed a breakthrough season with La Liga side Valencia, where he made the jump from Academy player to regular first-team starter. The former Arsenal Academy product is a versatile midfielder who should give USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter a strong option in central midfield.

Musah had a difficult decision to make after having represented England on the youth national team level, but ultimately his experiences with the USMNT and believe in the project convinced him to commit.

“It was a difficult situation, as England have done so much for me,” Musah told ESPN. “When someone’s nice to you, you don’t want to kind of leave them upside down. But at the end, you have to make the best decision for yourself.

“I was getting so many phone calls from a lot of different people, a lot of different organizations. And that sort of made it hard, and also the fact that I represented England in the past. That’s why it was a really hard decision to make.”

“This is just so exciting,” Musah told ESPN. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Musah will be expected to be called up for the USMNT’s upcoming friendlies against Jamaica and Northern Ireland.

Comments

  1. Hearing Bremen will not release Sargent for Northern Ireland but he maybe allowed to travel to Austria for the Jamaica match.

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    • which is why there needs to be a plan B other than lletget as a false 9 ie treat some subset of the kids as more proven or promising than others.

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      • Last time the region Bremen was in changed their quarantine rules the day before the roster was released, we’ve had time to plan this time. I also doubt Sargent will be the only one restricted.

    • Sargent
      Pulisic-Reyna
      Wes-Musah
      Adams
      Dest-Brooks-Richards-Cannon
      Steffen
      Bench: Weah Aaronson, Dike, Pomykal, Lletget, Yeuill, Robinson, CCV, McKenzie, Yedlin, Turner, Horvath
      Reserves: Zardes, Arriola, Long, Breakout MLS player we don’t know about yet
      There’s no way all these guys will be healthy by September.

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  2. Musah is a welcome addition, and I’m glad to see he’s decided to represent the USA. With his inclusion the US is starting to solidify a good group of CMs to run the system Gregg is trying to implement. There are some very good players at the 6 & 8 spots and some strong options if we need to upgrade an 8 for a pure 10. The fact that most of these players can also play other positions gives a coach great versatility when constructing a 23 for a tournament. And the best bit is that most of these players are young enough to be in the mix for 2022 & 2026.
    8s: McKennie, Musah, Aaronson, Green, Holmes, Pomykal,
    6s: Adams, Cardoso, Otasowie, Durkin, Booth, Cappis,
    10s: Reyna, Ledezma, Mendez, Clark

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    • i get into this same discussion on my houston dynamo that never seem to have a 10. i don’t think berhalter intends to have a 10. i think he wants two 8s. i think that favors two way types over superior technicians like reyna. i also think that shows up when we bog down in half court soccer and lack a precision element up the middle. wales 0-0 for example. but anyhow the point is when we react and say “we need a 10” it may be as much a formational critique as a personnel one.

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    • i also think, more pointedly, that we have basic identity confusion. for a man who claims to want possession three workhorse 6s and 8s strikes me as at odds with the end goal. three hard hats working to win the ball sounds to me more like the klinsmann 2014 recipe, which was not founded on possession at all costs. eg mckennie plays central for juve, but in a double 6 arrangement most nights. adams plays on a very defensive team too. if you wanted to truly possess you would probably need two technical mids like reyna and to swap out some of the forwards for players who can hold a ball. like how klinsi had mixx and gringo when he was trying to spread the field and knock it around. he then swapped that for jones and co. when he wanted to crunch people in the middle. as it stands the attractive part of wales was the aggressive ball wining in the midfield and not the end attacking product, which was generally wayward. so we kind of need to decide is this closer to empty bucket, high effort, cope with sloppy — in which case the theoretical midfield is fine — or is this really going to be tiki taka, in which case you need reyna and some of the other kids from last fall.

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    • IV what I think your missing is that Berhalter is making adjustments to the players we have available. Reyna is not the “slick ball playing possession #10” you are trying to claim he is. Is he a great passer yes can he make plays others in the pool can’t? Yes. But he is not a possession style 10 at this point. Will he get there in 4 or 5 years maybe. No one else in the pool is either so you have to adapt. What do we have, attacking fullbacks and athletic high motor 8s. So you teach Reyna how to make better runs and let Pulisic do what he does on the other side. Wes plays multiple positions for Juve but where he’s been best is getting forward into the box playing him and Adams deeper takes that away. We haven’t totally given up on possession but it’s changed into possession advantage by immediately winning it back instead of holding it for long periods and then sitting back and letting the other team make a mistake. We’ve gone from a Man City approach to a Liverpool approach. Are we Liverpool of course not but the basic principles apply. It’s basically how Mexico has had success under Tata don’t let the CBs breath and they’ll turn it over and then you’ll have your attacking players against an unorganized defense.

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      • sorry but the idea of wes getting way forward in the box almost like a 4th forward will get you 4 goals on cuba from him and losing to mexico on the counter. you’re basically underlining my question of what his position “is.” way up high is usually a “10” or forward role and while somewhat virtuoso he is not a genius tablesetter. or have you watched the games the past 2 years with him in charge of the attacK?

        i have been watching the games. we appear at times to be emphasizing wide play. we appear at other times to want to pass the ball straight up the middle. we are schizo. different players fit each scheme.

        reyna will be close to double digit assists and is as close to an assists man as we have in the middle. that is not what musah does. mckennie scores goals, not assists. what this team lacks is not people willing to crash the box. what this team needs is someone who can hit some precision passes when a team like wales sits back and dares us to just play wide and whack crosses. half court soccer. ability to break an opponent down. handful of players in the pool who can create like that and it’s not hustling musah and mckennie. they may be refined workhorses but they are not The Guy. and against the best teams you start to need The Guy. we need to quit conceptualizing our offense on what blows out salvador as opposed to what works on mexico or england. which if you want to run two 8s and feed the wide players and hit crosses all day, they will buy you a gift basket.

    • Not what I’m referring too as Wes was played as an almost 2nd forward once CP moved wide. This would be Wes being an 8 arriving at the top of the box. Pulisic and Reyna will create from the half spaces or Dest and Robinson from wide positions. A well organized defense committed to getting most of the team behind the ball like Wales is tough to breakdown even their 2nd 11. That’s how they got to the semis of Euro 2016. Counter pressing them and turning them over when they are disorganized is one way. Another way is drawing out their CBs with the 9 dropping into midfield. You are correct 3G had a wacky selection that day, but it wasn’t Lleget it was Konrad. Watch the video Lletget would get the ball and turn but Reyna and Konrad didn’t make the run or were too slow to start it and the space closed. That left Sebi with either playing it wide to Dest or back to Wes and Yunus. Konrad likes to dribble at people not run behind them, Reyna is similar they like the ball at their feet. Reyna might actually be better playing the false 9 which would make you happy to have him in the center of the pitch. Imagine Reyna with the ball and Weah running behind the FB. Beautiful! Your problem is you lack imagination you wax nostalgic for the glory days of an organized defense and counter attack but the truth is those teams produced similar results. Winning against weak competition, losing on the road in Concacaf, and not winning the GC when Mexico brought its best available. The one time we made the quarterfinals is when Arena went outside the box and played a 3-5-2 against Mexico. Some guy named Gregg Berhalter started that game I think.

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  3. it’s a good thing but back when we had a clue this was basically coextensive with when you got capped in the first place. you didn’t get the cap without conveying the impression you were committed. bit silly to have this business where we are capping people and then still waiting and hoping.

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      • not when there are doors nos. 2, 3, 4…..i think the issue is GB is a pushover. most coaches would have sent dest home after commenting at a news conference in our camp that he’s not sure if he will play for us. they might tolerate musing to the press about who they will choose, but in camp and after they would expect loyalty. obviously the players sense this is a pushbutton because soto and others with strings of USA on their resume have floated other options recently. do you think BA or JK would put up with this?

    • I don’t know, I guess I would have thought door’s 1, 2, 3, and 4 are exactly why the USSF proceeded as they did. Thus a seller’s market. I have to say, you have a lot of balls for criticizing them right now. For YEARS everyone complained that we were losing out on dual nationals, especially to Mexico. Now we’re pretty consistently winning those battles and/or at least keeping the doors open in the case of Efra when he seemed only as recently as last year to have been completely uninterested. And you criticize their approach now that its working? You need to pick your battles. No shame.

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  4. So much more fun debating which of the starters/key subs in top 5 leagues on Champions League level teams deserve to start for USMNT, versus the back in the (very recent) day debates on MLS starters versus one hit wonders for some mid-table in 15th best league, versus key subs for EPL relegation candidates

    Assuming US fields a striker, at least one of Weah, Reyna, Pulisic, McKennie, Adams, Musah would have to sit

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    • it’s about to negate your club snobbery because once most everyone has a resume it actually all cancels out. for that matter my experience is the heuristic is inconsistently applied. richards was with an even better team than dest but all i hear is “barca.” bayern isn’t chopped liver neither is hoffenheim.

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      • I don’t think that Jordan Morris’s and Wil Trapp’s resumes, when it’s all said and done will “cancel out” with a Reyna or a McKennie

        Or if you meant in Europe, that peak Terrance Goodson or Jay DeMerit will “cancel out” versus a John Brooks and an Eddie Johnson goal scoring spurt over a spring in Greece will compare to Pulisic at Chelsea last spring

      • funny you mention brooks because he and miazga are the two who dine out on club associations while shipping goals when they play for the Nats. eg Miazga on the hook for both goals by Panama. Panama! in a 6-2 game. but my point is once everyone has the resume then we have to go back to watching performance. but let’s be real about your MLS bias, the MLS candidates are above average MLS players which is as good as solid europe. many of them eg cannon reynolds adams could be in europe tomorrow if it’s what they wanted. my point however is that even if you wanted to make this a euro-contest it’s getting to the point where that no longer decides or is inconsistently applied eg Richards. my experience it’s usually used defensively as a talking point. my guy plays for ________, even if he’s had NT nightmare games that should be more focal. or it’s the sort of unearned fanboy hype that is not good for soccer teams, people telling them how good they will be, as opposed to them learning to win games and produce goals and defense, which is actually more useful to the endgame.

  5. Welcome. hope he can provide just what he showed when he played in the uniform before, on the turn and more, and I expect he will get his chances to do just that

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  6. If we’re comparing to England, don’t forget to subtract 40% off their quality for general self-loathing and bad luck. Even odds. I mean shoot, we tied them in 2010 (as a direct result of the aforementioned self-loathing and bad luck).

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    • if we have a brain, Musah plays wing for Valencia exclusively this year, he gets moved out to Morris’ RF slot and Reyna plays 10, which is where he produces and mostly plays for Dortmund.

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      • Hah as I read multiple articles on Musah today everyone attributed his lack of success this year to being played out of position by Valencia.

      • Actually the articles I saw were referring to GB having that belief, which is a tautological argument in terms of the NT. He should play central for the NT because the current NT coach thinks he should. Begs the question, conclusion in search of an actual argument. They do also mention he likes playing centrally, but you were implying it was some critical consensus as opposed to the player and our daffy coach. Which begs the question.

        If you go back to his age group game logs on TM he was more productive in youth play wide and not particularly productive as an AM. Like a goal or two all season when played centrally. If you compare that to Reyna’s youth numbers at a similar level it’s not even close. So what you’re trying to sell me on is use a kid who played half the time in age group ball centrally and wasn’t productive against kids, is our solution as an adult. Sorry, no, I will go with the player who plays centrally for his club, has since he was a kid, and has been productive at all levels there — Reyna. Just silly. I mean, did you just read GB and the player saying he can play middle ergo HE’S MIDDLE? And thought that’s definitive? Please.

      • i’m also at a loss that you watched Wales 0-0 and thought you saw the finished product. if that’s as good as we can do, we’re in trouble. my response was that though i liked adams we lacked an incisive central engine player, and our offense seemed to be nothing more than passing wide. personally i think we have a mix of incumbency bias and drinking mud because we’ve been in a desert. i think he will likely start for GB. i think GB is a weirdo overrated as a coach who hasn’t gotten any really tough results yet. i think his selections are bizarre but more pointedly ineffective. if you swap reyna and musah from their normal spots, and play lletget as a false 9, and get shutout, maybe you’re not that bright and maybe i don’t take your assessment of where musah fits as that definitive. at least in objective reality.

    • SBI won’t let me quote other sources anymore as they remove any comment I make that credits another source so I won’t. My sources are people who actually watch matches and aren’t 3G parrots but whatever. Are you seriously saying you wanted Berhalter to have a finished product for Wales when he had 1 day of training with most of the squad. A squad that was without Pulisic, had McKennie and Adams the playing together for the 2nd time ever, had Lleget playing for Sargent against a defense although Wales backups had camps in Sept. and October and had played 5 matches in which they had 4 clean sheets.

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      • @JOHNNYRAZOR, Don’t you dare to question our expert in soccer, The Imperative Voice? He’s so smart that he should have been the manager of the USMNT.

      • GB always gets to live off of the endgame being somewhere off on the horizon. the system is a work in progress 2 years into his tenure. if his selection didn’t work for wales then it just needs more time. always more time. sorry but Klinsi and Bradley didn’t take 2 years to sort stuff out and start beating good teams. most of the value of new coaches is pretty immediate. if his mousetrap can’t work in fairly short order or his selections are odd, i question if they can ever optimize. and this is not an abstract critique eg mexico twice, jamaica, venezuela, canada…..where is the france tie or the mexico win? oh, sorry, that was his predecessor, same cycle, same pool. who himself was pretty mediocre and over his head as the year went on. but if sarachan can milk some upsets out of this talent anyone should be, and without years of tinkering with it. where’s my payoff? next cycle? in heaven? just curious.

  7. “…the USMNT looking like a potential force heading toward the 2022 and 2026 World Cups.”

    Wow, Ives! That’s pretty optimistic for you. You are never one to hype or trash. You writing this makes me think US will talk over world soccer forever!

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    • Honestly if you look at England’s U21 roster I’m not sure Musah would have made it. Our first 11 is getting as strong as others but compared to the depth of top 10 nations we’ve got a long way to go.

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      • From a depth stand point, I don’t think we are that far away as you think. Here’s a second string–Yedlin, Miazga, CCV, Cannon, EPB, McKenzie and the new kid at AS Ropma for defensive subs. In the midfield we have guys like Aronson, Servania , Yuiell, Booth, Boyd, Morales, Green, Arriola, and possibly Ledezma and I’m probably leaving out some guys. As strikers there are Zardes, Wright, Johannsson, De La Fuente, Soto, De La Torre, Hoppe, Dike. Plus we have several guys who can play a couple of different positions. Many of these are younger guys with potential so they may not work out, plus some I’m leaving out may blossom later. In short, we have a lot of reserves who are playing in Europe or MLS who could have started for prior national teams.

      • Where the biggest disconnect is for us is more the level of experience our depth has. Right now we are an Extremely young squad. Most of our talent is in the 20-23 age bracket with very few options in the 25-28 age bracket that should be the core of team for 2022.
        We’re leaning heavily on a handful of young starlets (Adams, McKennie, Pulisic, Musah, Reyna, Weah, Sargent, Richards, Dest…) and hoping that other young prospects come good in time to fill out the rest of the roster for qualifying & the World Cup.
        We may make a run in 2022…but the 2026 cycle will be the clear indicator of this generation of players. Then our starlets & prospects will be entering into the prime of their careers…have the talent and game experience to make a real push to be something special.

    • Gary I don’t really know how important depth is after top 25-30 of course but talking about England they’ve got their entire 1st 23 in Top 5 leagues and their U21s are all starters or at least play every match players in Top 5 leagues. England, France, Spain, Germany and Italy of course have the advantage of hosting those leagues.

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      • Gary not that this team doesn’t have a ton of players in good places, it just still has a ways to go to get to the level teams we’ll have to beat to get to the semis or finals of a WC

    • i think we have talent coming into the pool but i will feel more comfortable when we start winning more competitive games and have better player performances. right now we are kind of coasting on rep and not doing much. i think we all see this SHOULD be something but whether the coach picks the right people and deploys them in optimal fashion is another question.

      there is also this little thing called defense we are oblivious to.

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    • Either was Alex Mighten of Nottingham Forest. To be honest the forwards on the England U21 squad are all receiving regular minutes with EPL teams or Madueke who has 7g 6a for PSV. Nketiah is also an Arsenal guy and gets more minutes and had more success in Europa League than Balogun.

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  8. This is fantastic. A midfield stable with Adams, McKennie, Musah, and Aaronson will give us quality options for the next decade and possibly beyond.

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    • you left out reyna? that’s most of what he plays for dortmund is AM. people are bizarre parroting GB. musah should be RF and morris has even involuntarily emptied the slot for a few months. bizarre.

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      • IV – Gregg’s preferred formation uses 2 8’s and a CDM. Reyna as a pure 10 isn’t likely to be used in a CM role unless we’re heavily favored and need someone to breakdown a bunkered defense, or if we’re trailing late in a must win game.
        Only then will we see Reyna shift inside and another winger (Weah, etc…) subbed in.

      • well based on wales and some of the other tougher contests this cycle whatever his midfield concept is, isn’t working. we score a lot of goals on teams we should beat. we struggle for goals and results on anyone decent. part of my problem on GB is the tail seems to wag the dog. you have reyna who is twice the attacker but he has to sit or play wide so we can run out 8s? normally you start with the productive players and build the formation around them first.
        also, while i agree with your two 8 assessment i made the point above that for a supposed possession team you would want slick players — 10s — not sloppy but productive workhorses. or have people not watched mckennie play closely these 3 years? at juve he plays on a team that plays disciplined defense with two 6s and plays numbers back but high risk balls forward to a limited crew of specialized attackers. they don’t try to possess. they emphasize defending and countering. more i think about it we are either confused about or identity or intentionally mislabelling it. cause it feels like we were told this would head in the direction of early Klinsi but are selecting like Brazil 2014. not that i would disapprove of team defense, just those are two different directions to select towards. even klinsi dramatically changed his roster when he went from one concept to the other. if you really want to possess you want slick 10 types who can hold a ball. and a striker who can keep the ball and pass.

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