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Malik Tillman cleared to play for USMNT after FIFA approves one-time switch

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CINCINNATI — Malik Tillman is taking part in his first U.S. men’s national team camp since making the decision to play for the United States rather than his native Germany, and now he will have the chance to make his USMNT debut in the team’s upcoming stretch of matches after having his Change of Association approved by FIFA.

Tillman’s one-time switch from Germany to the United States was approved on Tuesday, a day before the USMNT takes on Morocco at TQL Stadium. The 20-year-old Bayern Munich prospect had previously represented Germany on the Under-20 level after initial stints with the U.S. Under-15 team.

“Regarding Malik, we’re really excited that he got cleared by FIFA to play,” USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter said on Wednesday. “He’s shown a lot of quality in training. Very good understanding of the game, very good first touch and awareness around the penalty box, so that’s been great to see.”

Born in Germany to a German mother and American father, Malik Tillman enjoyed a breakout 2020 with Bayern Munich’s reserves, making the transition from attacking midfielder to goal-scoring striker. His nine goals with Bayern Munich II helped him earn a move up to the first team, which he made four appearances with last season.

Though Bayern has played him more recently as a striker, Berhalter sees Tillman fitting in other roles with the USMNT.

“He’s an attacking midfielder in a 3-4-2-1. He could be a pocket winger in a 4-3-3. He could be a center mid in a 4-3-3 depending on if we can get his defensive work up to where it needs to be,” Berhalter said. “Really talented between the lines, a real knack for scoring goals. Good, calm around the penalty box. Good technique scoring, he’s two-footed, an interesting player.”

Though Tillman isn’t expected to start against Morocco on Wednesday, he could be a candidate to start in the USMNT’s opening Concacaf Nations League match on June 10 against Grenada in Austin.

Comments

  1. Wow, this coach. The weakest part of your team is the #9 and you have a kid that you could give a look there but instead you want to try him everywhere but there.

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    • Player plays 193 of 1,449 as CF and Berhalter is criticized for playing him out of position. Are Nagelsman and Demichelis equally dumb?

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  2. Again, I think he’s probably the most-talented guy just from an athleticism/skill package I’ve ever seen connected with the USA. He’s an elite athlete and he has elite skill and we’ve simply never had one of those before. The comparison to Paul Pogba is apt. We’ve never had that guy before, ever.

    So his ceiling is just incredibly high…but as I’ve said on numerous occasions, talent’s cheap. Lot of talented guys don’t ever reach their ceilings for a variety of reasons.

    Genuinely intrigued to see where he’s at and how close he might be to contributing, and if he’s a for-2022 guy like I think he might be…or a 2026 guy, or will he fizzle like Julian Green did? Worth noting his brother was also wildly talented…and now plays with Green at Greuther Fürth. So I’ll hold my excitement until we see Malik play to that obviously prodigious talent.

    Big difference between a player and a prospect…but I will allow he’s as exciting a prospect, anyhow, as I’ve ever seen put on the shirt.

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