Changing the world’s view of American soccer.
That is one of the main things that recently drove Yunus Musah to pledge his international future to the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Musah made the decision to represent the USMNT over a number of other nations earlier this month, and is now in camp with the Americans as a truly committed player. A number of things led the teenage midfielder to make that life-altering choice, though possibly none more so than the significant potential that the rebounding team has in both the short and long terms.
“I think if you are looking for specifics I am really into the project that we have of building this new team, new identity and trying to change the view of American soccer in the world,” said Musah. “That really inspired me and it was one of the things that I really wanted to be involved in.”
He stands to be for quite some time. Musah, 18, is already playing at a high level as a regular starter at La Liga club Valencia, and should only grow in prominence there and with the USMNT as he continues to learn what life as a professional is like.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) November 3, 2020
Of course, it is the notable promise that Musah has that drew the USMNT to him. Head coach Gregg Berhalter called the talented youngster into camp back in November after Musah began to break through at Valencia, and the overall experience that included a pair of friendly starts laid the groundwork for the New York, New York native to choose the U.S. over England, Ghana, and Italy.
That the Americans are also co-hosting a World Cup in the somewhat near future certainly also helped.
“Knowing that the U.S. is automatically qualified to be the host, that was a big thing for me,” said Musah, who also credited Berhalter and the USMNT staff for the recruitment. “I want to be playing at the highest level with the top players. That is one of my goals and hopefully I will be involved in that.”
Now if the newest USMNT player wants to repay Berhalter and the assistant coaches for the confidence and treatment they gave him, Musah could do worse than to deliver a couple of strong showings in this week’s friendlies.
The Americans are set to square off with Jamaica on Thursday and Northern Ireland on Sunday in two games that will help Berhalter’s group continue to prepare for the more meaningful matches that are to come later this year.
Musah will not have the opportunity to work with midfield stars Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams this go around since neither of them are in camp, but the Valencia teen will have the chance to continue to grow in familiarity and comfort with many of his other international teammates.
“In these two games we are just trying to learn more about each other,” said Musah, “learn more about how we are going to play in the future, and just trying to improve ourselves before the competition matches.”
For Musah, everything right now is about getting better with his new team at the international level. The big decision is out of the way, leaving the focus to lie on the work done on the field.
“I do not feel like someone coming from the outside anymore,” said Musah. “I definitely feel part of us and part of what we are doing. It feels like I am part of the team already. That is what has changed, but the rest (has been) quite clear from the beginning, from November.
“… Game by game, day by day, we are working and trying to grow.”