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Julian Gressel embracing USMNT opportunity after securing American citizenship


Julian Gressel is no stranger to Major League Soccer fans as he prepares to enter his eighth season in the league, and the veteran fullback/midfielder is gearing up for a new opportunity for the first time in his professional career.

Gressel earned his first call-up to the U.S. men’s national team on Wednesday, two months after earning United States citizenship. The German-born 29-year-old is one of 13 players who will be seeking their first international caps as the Americans square off with Serbia and Colombia in their first matches of 2023.

Gressel has been open to representing the USMNT for some time and now is relishing the opportunity to do so at the start of a new international cycle.

“It’s the first time for me and it’s exciting,” Gressel said Saturday in a press conference with reporters about his call up. “It wasn’t possible before because of the citizenship that I’ve just recently gotten now finally, it’s an exciting week to be here. I’m just trying to do my best this week and put my best foot forward and kind of get to know everybody, it gives them a chance to get to know me.

“Whatever comes in the future is, we’ll deal with that then,” Gressel added. “I’m excited to be here for this week, and trying to try and obviously show who I am on and off the field.”

Gressel has continued to thrive as one of the top fullbacks in MLS, making the move to the Vancouver Whitecaps during the middle of the 2022 campaign. A former MLS Cup winner with Atlanta United in 2018, Gressel registered two goals and nine assists in a split season with D.C. United and the Whitecaps, before helping Vanni Sartini’s squad clinch a berth in the 2023 Concacaf Champions League.

Gressel has totaled 23 goals and 62 assists in 193 appearances during his MLS career, being used in a number of different roles for Atlanta, D.C., and Vancouver. There is no determination on where Gressel will feature at against Serbia or Colombia, but the veteran is open to whatever is needed under interim head coach Anthony Hudson.

“Throughout my whole career, I’ve played multiple positions in multiple different systems,” Gressel said. “So it’s nothing really going to be too new for me. I think the style of play is very defined here, so it’s going to be easy for me to slide into different positions on the field. Whatever the coaches have in terms of a plan I’ll play that and then when I get back to Vancouver, I’ll focus on what Vanni wants from me there.

“I’m excited for these two games and whatever role I play, if it’s fullback, right wing, if it’s No. 8 position, whatever,” he added. “I’m excited to be representing the U.S. and then we’re onto Vancouver.”

Gressel isn’t the only fullback on the current USMNT roster that will be seeking his debut against Serbia on Tuesday. DeJuan Jones and John Tolkin have also been called in for their first senior camps, with both also excelling on the MLS stage in recent seasons.

Gressel, Jones, Tolkin and Real Sociedad’s Jonathan Gomez will be pushing for a positive window as the USMNT begins its roster building for the 2026 FIFA World Cup on home soil.

“It’s been a lot of new faces for a lot of us,” Gressel said. “We’re excited to kind of build upon what has happened over the past four years. Everyone is eager to step in and make a name for themselves as well to be considered for the future. This is a great opportunityt to do that.

“It’s still a great opportunity to come in and represent the United States of America,” Gressel added. “No matter what happens in the future, I think you can show that you want to be a part of the group moving forward. It’s a big opportunity for a lot of young guys and some veteran guys, but it’s still good to be here.”

“The World Cup is three-and-a-half-years away so you can’t forget it, but it’s a new cycle and it’s exciting,” Gressel said. “I think what they have done in the past has been tremendous, I watched the games from afar, and now to be able to represent that is amazing. I think it’s something that everyone can build on and for every player that comes in, you know what the standard is. The U.S. belongs at the top and now it’s for us to keep that trend going.”

“I want to say it was more of a surprise,” Gressel said. “Obviously it was something I knew that was a possibility because I got my citizenship in November, but still a lot happened after the World Cup. There was a bit of uncertainty about what this camp would look like. Anthony Hudson then called me and we had a great conversation about coming to camp and now I am excited to represent the U.S.”


    Alex Mendez (PORTUGAL) – GOAL
    Benji Michel (PORTUGAL) – GOAL
    Gio Reyna (GERMANY) – GOAL
    Paredes (GERMANY) – ASSIST
    Ricardo Pepi (NETHERLANDS) – ASSIST
    Chris Richards (ENGLAND) – CLEAN SHEET
    Folarin Balogun (FRANCE) – GOAL
    Josh Sargent (ENGLAND) – GOAL
    Alejandro Zendejas (MEXICO) – GOAL & ASSIST
    Ethan Horvath (ENGLAND) – CLEAN SHEET
    Let’s keep it up……

  2. Hearing Jose Mourinho is interested in the USMNT head coach position and the feeling is mutual. What say everyone about that possibility.

    • 2tone,
      I don’t know about that one. I mean Jose Mourinho is, in my opinion, more of a manager (like Pep Guardiola)….. not a coach (like Jurgen Klopp). While a good manager effectively organizes the work, progress and processes to deliver exceptional results, the quality HAS TO BE THERE for them to do their job efficiently and effectively, while a coach drives team performance and discovers new talent base off what he has and helps players get to their next level of effectiveness, both on and off the field, through motivation, inspiration and team work.
      With our player pool and what Mourinho is use to working with I don’t know if he will be the best person to take this young team to the next level.
      ……but I could be absolutely wrong.

      • first off, maybe you are unfamiliar with his early career portuguese club history but i remember his pre-CFC ascendance eg he goes to unheralded uniao de leiria (currently 4th division) and in a half season of work has them as high as 3rd in the 1st division (ahead of benfica and porto), at which point he is hired away half season to porto, his first full season they win league and UEFA cup, his second one they win league and UCL. porto! so, i disagree. it’s akin to SAF back before he left scotland won the second division, was the last team (aberdeen) to break up the old firm title monopoly, and won cup winner’s cup — a european trophy — with a scottish team. i get where if you spend decades with top teams it’s like can he coach a team that needs more attention and can’t just get out a checkbook. and to be blunt that’s a fair critique now even if he once was capable, because he hasn’t had to do it in decades. but he did start small once and was VERY SUCCESSFUL.

        re manager vs coach, sorry i disagree. i think an attacking coach needs the personnel sitting there or available by checkbook. barca needs a messi and looks bad without one. you can’t take some donkey and tell them to hustle and get messi attacking results. i agree if you look at mourinho’s career, he profited heavily off of having elite 6s like kante that make a defensive concept “sing.” but defensive tactics are fairly popular by weaker teams precisely because of their equalizing and leveraging organizational effects. i think GB as it is tries some degree of defensive soccer, including particularly his MF and wing forward selections, but mourinho would be a better, more tactically sound and thorough version of that. different, truer defensive formation, better idea who to pick to execute it.

        is this really what we need? i like defensive soccer and historically it was popular here. i think we can make it work to some level. is it a winning formula? define winning. italy won 2006 being very defensive. most world cup winners have a good defense. but they are also balanced and get some offense. i have been beating the drum lately that we had fewer goals per game in 2022 qualifying than 2018, and that we had less than a goal a game in qatar. i think defense is the foundation for championships but having set that down, you need a good offense. watch atletico settling for too many crosses if you want to see what happens if it gets a bit lazy and too sloppy on the other end. i believe in a division of labor and we need dedicated attackers who can create and finish goals. ideally on the ground more. is that in mourinho’s briefcase? not sure. do we have so “lock-down” of a defense he can win everything 1-0 like back at CFC? not so sure. GB never bothered to identify it, that much is sure.

      • IV,
        Sometimes I think you just copy and paste random things and hope it sticks…….haha
        Inter Milan
        Real Madrid
        Manchester United
        Tottenham Hotspur
        “With our player pool and what Mourinho is use to working with I don’t know if he will be the best person to take this young team to the next level.”
        Now look at the teams he has coached……where is the average talented team he has mentored and developed? Who are the GROUP of young players he has coached to a championshipj?
        Then you disagree about manager / coach, then agree a little about elite players…..and then you disagree again…….you are all over the place hahaha.

      • one concern i have with your argument is to the nth degree it can become just a bs excuse for trying to elevate any “plucky” midtable (or worse) coach one likes who has never had to win anything. arguments like this were made for berhalter. “he coaches an upstart team and so are we.” i think as with moyes and others before we have seen how that is junk.

        in NT play you need a winner and not just a grinder. i addressed your argument precisely. he has won with smaller clubs. you ignored that. he then won with bigger clubs too. to me that’s usually a good manager, he wins everywhere he goes. i am somewhat concerned he hasn’t had an underdog in decades. i am somewhat concerned his recent history is less effective. i am somewhat concerned he shows up with the same 433 the existing coach uses. but i tied up your rhetorical question in a bow. he did win back at porto. he has coached aspirational teams before.

        you’re trying to say, but wait, the average age, the overdog nature, that is an awful argument designed to run off every elite coach in service of some midtable “value” fashion choice. that is backwards of good sense. what you want is someone who has coached little dogs big dogs and won everywhere. check check up to the fact he’s tailed off since ManU.

      • NNNOOOOWWWWW, that last piece was good. Yes, I get it, José Mourinho is one of the most decorated football managers in the world, with 25 major trophies in his career……I hear what you are saying but the fact is his successful coaching period with Porto that you bring up so much was 2002 – 2004 (so that resume is irrelevant!!!!), but look at where he went and the BIG TEAMS he started coaching….Chelsea (stacked)…..Inter Milan (stacked)….Real Madrid (stacked)……these teams HAD ELITE QUALITY and had big spending budgets (the USMNT will be different….as what you see is what you get!!!). Now look at where the rubber meets the road…….ever since he moved BACK to Chelsea he has been fired for lack of performing….. and the irony is that he loses his “mojo” almost exactly two years after tacking the job (……then gets fired). Hmm let’s see his recent track record:

        2013–2015 at Chelsea
        On 17 December 2015, after losing 9 of 16 Premier League matches – sacked
        2016–2018 at Manchester United
        2018–19 season with just 7 wins in the first 17 Premier League games – sacked
        2019–2021 at Tottenham Hotspur
        On 19 April 2021, Mourinho was sacked by Tottenham Hotspur after 17 months in charge of the club

        Now, for more recent events, apart from Europa League, what has he won in Serie A? Roma finished 6 last season and are currently sitting 13 points behind league leaders Napoli (oh, and Roma finished 7th in the season before he took over) ……so what has he done lately? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (Jurgen Klinsmann 2.0)

      • B: at this point we’re not necessarily disagreeing. i corrected that a while back he did coach smaller clubs to success. i mean, won europe with a fairly “small” club. we actually agree that acknowledging this history, it’s not recent, and he hasn’t won anything in several years. i will say that if we go beyond the “flynn rule” requirement of any winning, or even a pretty strong history of winning trophies, and start requiring a big 5 league title last season, or a world cup final or semifinal, that’s going to be a very very very short list (9 guys?) of the most in demand coaches in the world, most of whom will probably be happily sat down someplace.

        and to avoid any gamesmanship, it would be brutal to use a narrow highly aspriational list of first tier “give me pep” type options as a means to eliminate the second tier behind them who have won big 5 leagues or coached deep into world cups, only to end up hiring someone 3rd tier (or bring back GB) as our safety school. i want an aspirational name. i also think calling all the zidane level coaches pitching our opening should take 1-2 days, and while i am concerned about mourinho’s trajectory, i don’t think you should have to have won EPL like yesterday to be in the pile.

        the answer that probably keeps us both happy is set up a tiered rank and work your way down the list. they obviously called zidane first. i can see where mourinho would come later. the fair question is did we call some numbers in between.

    • my 2 cents, first, if players (and parents, funny to say parents for an adult national team, this is not your select side or even the YNT U15s) are flipping out with GB occasionally loose lipping it, can you imagine us with mourinho’s blunt press conferences. but JK could at times be blunt and maybe it comes down to respect. a former olympian coached me in my second sport, and i wet with him to break me down and build me back up better. the coach has fostered a cult of sorts but for those still independent minded, GB is simply a lower degree of respect and deference with him running things. but how much could mourinho get away with or is he the right fit. or are we going to end up with reyna at a grander scale, various running fracases. JK had some of that.

      ditto the sideline antics. when you are riding high, great. when it’s bumpy, it’s a mess.

      second, i think it matters if we get 433 jose or 352/4231 jose. i think the dumb GB 433 formation is behind the times and results in a lot of the dumb personnel choices that follow, which are to put more defensive players on the field — even in attacking spots — to make up for formational defensive weakness. i think mourinho would be better at teaching defensive soccer than the Occupant. but do you get dramatic change if the formation (and personnel) don’t change. i think we need a technical 10 and good attacking specialist wings to elevate this. is jose going to neuter this like GB did to pursue his defensive ideas? i am comfortable he would execute defense far better. i am not sold whether we solve our GF problem.

      that and he hasn’t had to actually win for a while. he’s been a solid top few coach but he got canned at ManU and doesn’t head the league with roma. what the US needs is this kicks up a notch and leaves mexico and canada behind. is he that guy? hmm.

      i will say if you paid any attention to qatar that defensive soccer is back in fashion. i keep hearing people make “progressive” soccer arguments, like soccer history goes ever forward. i see a lot of the tactics as pendulum swings. c. 2010 it was cute to play tiki taka. i think the swing is the other way. argentina, croatia, france, all sound defenses. ditto holland and japan. lazy cute teams like germany went home early. that being said, tactics are about being ahead of the curve, negating opponents, and making teams adjust to you. if you go very defensive when that is the trend, do you just cancel out. all i know is berhalter ball doesn’t work in present context. teams are sitting back and countering off sloppy passing mids. so something else.

    • i will say that i (a) approve of the name brand elite level of the coaches being chase — i am sick of the moping, low rent, moneyball “value” approach — and (b) note with approval as well that we seem to be pursuing successful coaches — league and european trophies in the cupboards — with defensively sound concepts. i felt like this had taken an “aesthetic” turn and then ironically not actually looked all that drilled or pretty at all. but then my sense of the fanboys backing this stuff is their idea of how to run a soccer team is play how some favorite, pretty UCL team does — regardless if we have the personnel to do it — and then run out all my favorite UCL players — regardless if they are actually good or fit the aesthetic scheme. the normal non”aspirational” non-dogmatic approach to coaching is identify your best 20-30 players and shape a system that gets the best ones on the field and best leverages results.

  3. As for the age thing, central defenders do seem to get better with age. So much flows from the player’s ability to read plays and anticipate.
    FWIW, Tim Ream was a revelation in the last WC despite (or maybe because of) his age.
    We will see where is on the learning and getting better versus the getting old, slow and injured curves soon enough. At this stage it is kind of silly to try to rule him out.

    • dude you must have missed the jillion times before that “geoff cameron” or “FJ” falling apart costs the NT. ream is exceptional and i think it’s crazy to run things by the exception rather than the rule. the rule is when you get around 30 your legs start going and it’s a running sport.

      also, historically (pre 2014) a process of sorts was followed that covers all the bases. you pasture the age risks. you trial the younger age appropriate players. you can then circle back around in a year or so and call ream, if you don’t find any capable kids. what i think you are suggesting is what JK and arena did in 2018 cycle, where JK bet heavily on older MFs, and arena favored older backs, and they were not up to snuff, and we never identified good alternatives, and so MF and CB remained weaknesses. another way of saying don’t put all your eggs in a single basket.

      if you wanted more blunt, GB is of the arena coaching tree and i think they get it generally wrong. arena blew 2006 betting on old reyna and lewis and others. 2018 was a similar issue of old bad players. the only good arena world cup run was 2002 — when he saddled up the young beasley and donovan. to me i would every time bet on the front end of careers of promise over the back end of faltering careers. ream would be 39. we lucked out. bank your luck and move on. don’t make it the rule. most old man teams (eg belgium) get their butts kicked.

  4. i don’t mind USMNT rewarding his long effort to gain citizenship and be part of the NT setup but given his age i think his PT should be limited to about a half this time. a 29 y/o player “going on 33 in 2026,” is a poor bet to be helpful in the next world cup. i don’t mind us patting him on the back symbolically, or giving him a once over then setting him to the side with the other players posing age issues, while we search for more age appropriate bets. but USSF has had a bad pattern of putting their chips on O-30s who fall apart, particularly in the 2018 cycle where the whole MF fell apart and never was fixed. his story has sentimental pull but we have to resist that. i didn’t realize he entered college old enough he was age 20 his first fall….i was 18…….

      • Gressel’s usefulness is not dependent upon who the next coach is. His usefulness will be purely dependent upon the health and form of the vast number of RB/RWB’s in the player pool.
        Dest, Scally, Reynolds, Che, Cuevas, Cannon, Moore, & Fossey are all likely better options for any coach with an eye towards 2026. Giving him a token camp when nearly every other RB option in our player pool is unable to attend due to it not being a FIFA date is one thing….getting a call-up to compete among the “A-Team” players is something significantly different.

      • see i think we should hire a flexible coach who evaluates the pool first and only then implements the system. i think looking at it first as “does he fit system” puts cart before horse and imitates GB’s backwards approach. he spent the first year of his team trying to use perceived system guys and only later cycled around to including obviously talented young players eg weah adams richards. the team magically improved. then he benched reyna at the world cup which is silly. so find the “players” first then leverage them with a later chosen “system.”

        i think the more real concern is his age. if you look at his stats, his numbers fell off last season. while still very good, and better than most teammates, he’s 29 and may be starting to deteriorate. a player who was great before, pretty good now, but might be broken and useless in 2026, is a bad bet. think about jones and bradley 2018 cycle, getting worse, quitting the team, no plan B. i say give him a brief look to sort out how he ranks then begin working plan B.

    • Mr. Voice,

      Cliche warning: You’re putting the cart before the horse.

      You don’t know jack shit about Gressel and you’re already putting limits on him.

      I happen to think none of these guys are going to do shit ever, but I could be way, way wrong because I know so very little about any of them. I’ve seen better players emerge from humbler circumstances.

      Leading up to Qatar, there were lots of age appropriate bets out there at CB but who played in Qatar? Tim Ream.

      You keep insisting on judging players by indirect means instead of by how they actually play. For example, I’ve watched most every game Paul Ariolla has played for the USMNT . I’ve never seen him play for DC or Dallas or earlier on for Xolos in TJ. And what that has taught me is that, when it comes to the USMNT, Paul would be great if he didn’t have to touch the ball. When he does, that’s when bad things happen. So if you’re going to play him just make sure he doesn’t touch the ball or limit them severely.

      “USSF has had a bad pattern of putting their chips on O-30s who fall apart, particularly in the 2018 cycle where the whole MF fell apart and never was fixed.”

      The USSF has had a lot of shit players and some shit coaches. Instead of worrying about their age appropriateness how about they look for good managers and players who can actually play the game.

      You don’t know who the manager will be
      You don’t know how they will set up to play
      You don’t know what kind of competition Gressel will have for rightback, right wing back or wherever.

      32 is not too old to be a starting right back or whatever position in the World Cup. It’s only 7 games at most. If a player is worth a fuck, he can surely get it up for such a short time.

      Someone, somewhere decided he was worth a look. How about letting him play a few games for the USMNT before you map out his entire international future, or lack thereof, for him?

      • V: not true. i like to see them play. i can tell who can ball. just watching them i see statistics, however, as a check on subjectivity. eg, for production players, it should matter how often they actually create or score. some people on here talk up some semi-technical player and you’re like last time i saw him he didn’t impress, then you find out they barely have a league assist in years. similarly, age of a player can be a very telling statistic and you acknowledge we have used some players well past their sell by date. don’t pretend it’s a fake concern then.

        i think “ream” needs out. building in a 39 year old CB who was lucky to get out of this one effective is silly. i didn’t say cut gressel, i said limit how much time we spend that direction. give him his shot, then move on. a guy age 33 next time is a high risk to blow up. it is poor planning to do what GB typically does, dump tons of time on a single player, and give it all to some old fart. it’s like GB giving all that time to zardes who got CUT. we then don’t know who else to play at 9 AT THE WORLD CUP. the idea is figure out OPTIONS now and narrow it down later. anyone over 26 right now is a risk in 4 years and the approach should be to first evaluate other options. this is good process even if we end up circling back around.

      • Mr voice,

        So you’ve seen Gressel play for the USMNT? How did you do that? How did he do?

        Why are you so fucking worried about Ream? Did he run over your dog?

        If he can’t cut it anymore , that will become obvious. soon enough. And the USMNT won’t be playing a meaningful game anytime soon unless they go Copa America.

        The four games Ream played in Qatar were the best games of his entire USMNT career .

        They were also the only games of his USMNT career where he his presence was not irrelevant. If I’m him I go out on a high because, depending on how the managerial search progresses, the next bunch of games could be a shit show or could be a fun time. Call him in when you have something solid for him to work with and see if he can fit in or not.

        Your BBall machine finally fell into place for four games after 3+ years of half- assery.

        Ream finally had something to work with.

        “anyone over 26 right now is a risk in 4 years and the approach should be to first evaluate other options. this is good process even if we end up circling back around.”

        Horse manure. Life isn’t like that.

        You and Gregg are two peas in a pod in that you both think the same way. You both think like you can control every fucking variable.

        If I’m the manager and/or coaches, I see this camp as one more opportunity to build up a data base on every player involved. And then file it away for the next time.

        This far out that’s all you can do.

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