Henry, Wenger gush over Zelalem’s potential

GedionZelalem (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

HARRISON, N.J. — You can add Thierry Henry to the list of people that are high on Arsenal prospect and potential U.S. Men’s National Team player Gedion Zelalem.

Henry and his New York Red Bulls are set to play host to Arsenal on Saturday in a rare stateside friendly for the Premiership club. Zelalem, a talented 17-year-old midfielder, has been included in the Gunners’ 20-man roster for that match but not many observers have seen enough of him to really have an opinion on just how good he is and if he is as promising as U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has stated.

Ever the avid Arsenal supporter, Henry is quite up to date on the happenings at the club. He is familiar with Zelalem and believes the youngster is the real deal.

“Quality, good on the ball, great vision,” said Henry of Zelalem during a press conference on Thursday. “Everybody’s talking about him. It’s not an easy place to break into the first squad, Arsenal, but he has the quality and the right boss to make sure that he can do it. Hopefully for us, as an Arsenal fan, he can perform and be a great player for us.”

The French striker was not the only player to shower praise on Zelalem, who was born in Germany to Ethiopian parents but might be eligible for U.S. citizenship after spending some of his formative years living in Washington D.C.

Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger also gushed about the youngster, raving about the qualities Zelalem possesses and adding that he could be ready to contribute in Premier League play as soon as next season.

“I honestly think he has the talent to become a quality player, but that will be decided in the next 2-3 years because he has to show that he has the mental level required to be a top player, competitor,” said Wenger. “Today, it’s too early for him to play for us but I would say in one year we will know more about him. Maybe if it all goes well in six months, but just now, he’s not completely ready to start in the Premier League.

“But he’s with us and he practices with us a lot and we have high expectations for him.”

Zelalem will do more than just practice with the Gunners this week, if things go according to plan. Wenger intends to use the midfielder who is on a first-team contract in some capacity in Saturday’s match at Red Bull Arena, which will help Zelalem to developer further while also giving fans around the world a glimpse of the immense potential that he possesses.

“He will play on Saturday,” said Wenger. “Gedion has the qualities that I believe are very important to give in the States, because the national team I’ve seen (is missing them). He’s a creative player and he can create a spark, an opening with his pass, with his vision through the eyes and if he manages to build up his physique and his qualities, he can be a very important player. Let’s hope he will do it.”

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106 Responses to Henry, Wenger gush over Zelalem’s potential

  1. Mikebsiu says:

    It’ll be funny when he chooses another country over the usa

  2. froboy says:

    I BELIEVE THAT HE WILL PLAY FOR US!

    • uhuru says:

      I hope j. Green and zel can spend some quality time together. It’ll happen for us. He should be good for the next gold cup

    • shaggie96 says:

      “Gedion has the qualities that I believe are very important to give in the States, because the national team I’ve seen (is missing them).”

      The quote makes it sound like a dead solid lock to me.

      • Mali Hatchet and the Traore Brothers says:

        Boy I’d love to agree– but Wenger’s status in human trafficking makes me wonder what he is up to with this new shipment. Certainly he does not need to drum up interest in his high class ladies to a new market of pimple-faced noobs who just can’t get it up over Benny Feilhaber anymore… we’ll take Gedion and anybody else in the van with so much as an Arsenal tramp stamp, and he knows it. What is this maniac’s game? Has the master of identifying the Frenchness in everybody found somebody he covets in our talent pool? How many times has Ben Lederman’s family been to Martinique? Are we sure? What is his price if we are wrong?

        Ok or maybe it’s more simple. Has his assistant told him that the game sold out yet?

      • away goals says:

        Maybe. Or maybe wenger is playing up the american angle while he takes his team on a moneymaking tour across america.

  3. chris says:

    Another point for non MLS academies

    • Anthony says:

      Yeah…I really don’t understand when people try to argue that MLS academies are just as good as top European academies.Even when you are playing as a youngster, it is better for you to play against and with better competition. We should not be sending kids to Scandinavia, but a 18-22 yr old playing in France, England, Germany, Spain, Italy and Netherlands is better than playing in the US. I know that a lot of people are going to be upset, but it’s true.

      MLS has gotten better, but at this point (in terms of development), it is ok for good players, but not the truly elite great players. The problem is we still don’t have enough good players, but we are getting there. At this point, the truly great players are retarding their development by staying during their key development years. Please do not use LD, he would have been better than he was (which was still excellent) if played with and against better competition (the key aspect here is “play” – no use sitting the bench)

      • chris says:

        I was talking about non MLS US academies. Believe it or not most academies in the US are on par with European ones except for the elite of the elite. Can you actually name any elite US talent groomed in Europe that have gone on to produce for the USMNT? I’ll take Clint Dempsey over any of them. Playing college ball didn’t seem to hurt Dempsey, Reyna, Yedlin, Subotic or Ibisevic any bit either. Its the same with Mexico. People say going abroad at a young age is better for your development but where is the proof?

        18-22 is not academy age by the way. The problem is much earlier in a players development

        • Anthony says:

          Chris, maybe I was a little liberal with the terms academies. I really meant beyond just going to youth academies because unless you have an EU passport, it is difficult to attend one. I meant just playing in an environment where you are playing with and against elite competition as well as being coached by elite coaches. MLS does not have that yet.

          In addition, while the MLS has gotten better, their academies 13-19 ARE not as good even non-elite in England/France/Germany/Spain/Italy/Netherlands. Listen, some teams have better academies than others, but be realistic. Southampton is one of the best academies in England producing Bale, Adam Lallana, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wayne Bridge and Luke Shaw in THIS generation ALONE and they are not an elite team. I was involved with elite clubs teams and so were my friends straight through the mid/late-90’s when were in college. The MLS academies are not there yet. With the exception of a couple academies, clubs are better and deeper. I just hate the pay for play which used to be 1000/season when I was in high school.

          In terms of Dempsey, Reyna, Yedlin, Subotic or Ibisevic, Yedlin, Subotic or Ibisevic spent a 2 seasons, 1 season, 1 season in university, respectively. I think had they spent that 1 year or 1.5 years in a professional environment learning and playing, they would be better. I am not saying they are hurt by college per se as much as they would be better that they had been had they been a professional environment learning and playing all the time. The key is *playing*. Reyna was a different time, but had he gone professional instead of playing 3 years in college he might have been better. He and O’Brien were the best of their generation. Dempsey is excellent, but I remembered watching him in New England then in England, he got better and might done so sooner.

          • slowleftarm says:

            College soccer is a complete waste of time but Zelalem was at Olney Rangers until he was 16 I believe so I think they should get most of the credit for developing him.

            MLS academies were just set up circa 2007 or so, so we shouldn’t fret over whether they’re as good as academies that have been around for decades. We’re expanding and improving our soccer infrastructure quickly but it takes time to catch up to places where soccer has been the only game in town for over 100 years.

            • beto says:

              baffled by the fact that MLS clubs existed (survived) for over 10 years before setting up academies.

              • beachbum says:

                I think it’s about the dollars on that one…anyone with better insight? we’ll catch up tho imo

              • Ali Dia says:

                Thank Lamar Hunt. His vision had always included academies, and he was willing to accept losses (and convince others to do so) while the league was struggling to get established. It is impossible to overstate how important this man was to US Soccer, and ths is yet another example.

            • Eurosnob says:

              He played for several German and US clubs, before he moved to Arsenal so I am not sure why Olney should get the most credit for his development, when he only played with Olney from 2011 through 2013. Nothing against Olney, but he played soccer from the age of 5 and several clubs contributed to his development.

        • quozzel says:

          Dempsey didn’t play in an Academy, ever. He played club travel ball in Texas and did a year at Furman University in South Carolina under Doug Allison – along with guys like Ricardo Clarke, Shea Salinas, and more recently, Walker Zimmerman. Then he was drafted into MLS and spent a couple years with the New England Revs.

          Academies are nice and all…but I still think it ultimately comes down to the individual player, and the individual coach.

          Just got done reading “I Am Zlatan”, for instance – he pretty much knocked around every local club in his hometown before finally getting into one of the Academies…where he rarely started, and out of his own mouth, “never listened”. His track was anything but linear as well. And Messi was already a certified “genius” at age 13, long before he went to Barca.

          Is it the Academies producing the players, or the Academies just finding and polishing up some what’s already there?

          • GW says:

            “Messi was already a certified “genius” at age 13, long before he went to Barca.”

            Long before? He had signed with Barca ,was getting growth hormone treatments from them and playing for their Academy junior teams starting in 2000.when he was 12-13. Prior to that he had been playing for Newell’s Old Boys since the age of 8.

            It’s not like he walked into Barca’s Academy off the street or the playground.

      • Wood chip zip says:

        Ahhhh perhaps the point was his formative years before Arsenal discovered him were spent at a club in the US that is NOT an MLS academy.

      • Lost in Space says:

        The very best youth players in the US Pool are and will continue to go to top European leagues (Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, & England) as soon as they are able to (In most cases 18 yrs old unless they can get an EU passport). Rubio, Stanko, Canouse, Gyau, Pelosi, Packwood, etc….are all prime examples of current young players who went over as soon as they could.
        MLS academies and teams have to be used to bridge the gap between U-15 and U-18 due to FIFA rules. Players like Agudelo, Jozy, Beasley, Bradley, etc… need or needed MLS.
        And for those players who are slower to develop, but can transition to the required level with a little extra time. Players like Cameron, Ream, Besler, & Gonzalez. needed MLS to refine & showcase their abilities to the USMNT and Clubs Overseas.
        What works best for one player isn’t always the answer for the next. We need to have multiple pathways in order to get the most out of the talent pool. The better MLS and it’s academies become the deeper and more competitive the USNT’s will become.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I’m sorry but academies to me are for dibs purposes, the teams themselves do not produce anything better right now than the traditional club system. I think my old club team got better results against the traditional TX and OK powers than do the Dynamo Academy teams. The only things in their favor are they are the fast track to homegrown signings in MLS — if you are so inclined — and they seem to get a free pass into the elite youth leagues and tournaments.

        In fact, if you look at the rookies of the year with the exception of Najar they are all college draft picks. That reflects that the 18 y/o kids churned out by the academies are usually not “shovel-ready” first team players, and MLS continues to struggle to turn its young signings into first team adults.

        Until MLS teams are identifying a core at 10 and training them in superior technique and tactics, it’s basically just them cherry picking dibs on players already inclined to MLS, but not making teams that are really superior to the traditional club system, which is where many of the kids with college or foreign aspirations go.

        I also think MLS academies are half baked compared to putting the elite in one place like Bradenton. When that was rolling you had a whole generation of players who started young and strong, Beasley, Donovan, Gooch, etc.

        • "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

          Dude that ROY and shovel ready argument is totally unfair. There is a HUGE physical developmental difference between 20 and 21 year old men and 18 year old boys (men).

          When was the last ROY 19… Or 20?

          Even at 19 I was a whole other person than I was at 18. In one year I went from 5’8″ to 5’10” and gained more muscle. Not to mention that just before I turned 21 I lost 22 pounds (got ripped) and grew another 2 inches topping out at 6’0″.

          I went through a Massive difference over my “late bloomer” years. I Thank God that the girls noticed!

          ;-)

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            It’s entirely fair, if MLS had a development system worth a hoot it would be churning out prepared players. It is not, so it is then possible that going to college prepares you better, reflected by ROY.

            I mean, I came in at my college and was starting ahead of upperclassmen within a few games as a fish. That the run of college ROYs has gone unabated several years says something. I look at my own Dynamo and our own homegrowns don’t stick. We paid out the wazoo for a capped Honduran kid and can’t seem to do anything with him. And that happens over and over. I don’t think we know very well what we are doing in MLS academies.

            European teams routinely produce talented teenagers (Green!) who can be effective in as serious of events as the World Cup. That American teams would instead start talking maturity and the arguments you make, suggests they aren’t accelerating the curve much.

            I grant what you say about maturity, somewhat, but given that many players break in in their teens, the question is why MLS doesn’t produce many. Whole bunch of other academic setups seem to somehow buck the curve.

        • Lost in Space says:

          MLS academies are in their infancy. Most have only existed to 3 or 4 years and don’t go lower in age than U-16. Therefore to expect them to turn out more or significantly better players then the top youth club teams (select, travel, or whatever you want to call them), like Scott Gal., The Chicago Magic, Wolves, TKO, etc….is just crazy. These youth clubs have been in existence longer than MLS let alone the MLS academies. It will take another 5 years and academy teams down to the U-13 level before they really have a significant impact to MLS.
          Bradenton still exists….and may for another 5-10 years….but it’s significance will be replaced by the academies. Bredenton’s short coming is that there are limited number of spots (30-40) covering the whole of the US. Having established academies throughout the US gives more players the chance to be spotted & trained by professional coaches. Another benefit of the Academies is that the parent clubs cover the bulk of the expenses rather than the Pay-to-Play of the previous generation of club ball (select) and ODP that I played/competed in during the 80’s.

          • Tom says:

            ” Another benefit of the Academies is that the parent clubs cover the bulk of the expenses rather than the Pay-to-Play of the previous generation of club ball (select) and ODP that I played/competed in during the 80′s.”

            Apparently they aren’t all free to player. DCU, for example, charges about what the oldschool powerclubs do.

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            I don’t think theoretically picking the creme of the crop and training them together with high level coaching in a true academy atmosphere (a la Bradenton of old) should be passe. It’s what the French do at Clairefontaine.

            We are instead piecemealing players out to clubs that are more concerned with rights and have not shown they train the kids to be better players. The players who sign with them are eyeballing the pro deal, so it’s a mutually beneficial concept financially and rightswise that is not churning out quality young players ready to compete like Bradenton did at its peak. And rather than all the players in one place pushing each other, they’re spread out over 20 teams that each need to be doing their job right.

            I did the club/ODP thing too, and I recognize what you say about expense, but MLS is absorbing the expense for selfish reasons…..they want your rights. The kids who pay are getting as good or better training.

            Right now the pre-college YNT callups show clubs as strong as academies, despite the pro pipeline they can offer.

            If there is any YNT fast track, it is the kids lucky enough to play in Europe U18. That reflects the perception those kids will show up ready to play.

      • Dennis says:

        Actually, Donavon played in Germany from age 17 to 23, Gideon was in the US until about 16. before his move to Germany. Donavon spent those years in Germany and before that with the first class at Bradenton where he did train with other very good players including Beasley, Convey, Onweyu, Beckerman, and Cronin. So claiming Donavon would have been a whole lot better had he stayed in Germany is not really that defensible since the most important years in moving from a youth player to a professional was spent in Europe.

        • Anthony says:

          LD was back here at 19. Bayer Leverkeusen owned his rights, but loaned him back to San Jose. After 3 years or so, MLS purchased his rights. He only spent 2 years there between 17-19. I guess,I was a little too liberal with the term “academies”. What I mean to say that the MLS is still not the environment for developing or refining TRULY elite players (either academies or league play). LD still would be better is he was able to break through in Germany or UK (e.g. Everton) and played with and against better players.

          • GW says:

            “He only spent 2 years there between 17-19.”

            So you don’t think those two years are important?

            • Fast Eddie says:

              Yes, they were important. Those 2 years showed that he didn’t have the talent to make it in the Big Leagues.

              • GW says:

                F. Eddie,

                So he was washed up at 19?

              • Fast Eddie says:

                No, I did not say that. I said it was shown he didn’t have the talent (drive) to make it with the big teams.

                His history, after the age of 19, showed that.

              • GW says:

                F. Eddie,

                “I said it was shown he didn’t have the talent (drive) to make it with the big teams.”

                Really?
                .
                At the age of 20 Landon played in the 2002 WC and did so well he was eventually named best young player of that particular event.

                So he had the talent.

                As for the drive, that is debatable since LD has made it very clear that as a young kid for him it was always about the World Cup not about going to Europe. His entire career was based on being a USMNT player and going to as many World Cups as possible. He went to three and did very well in two of them.

                A lot of fantastic players never get to one. And a lot of good players get to the World Cup and don”t do as well as Donovan has.

                So he had plenty of drive and I would say he achieved his goals. It is a measure of just how very talented he was that he got as far as he did given the circumstances.

                Your idea is that the biggest teams are in European club football and that is not congruent with LD’s vision. It just means you and LD have different perspectives.

                And for you to criticize Landon because his perspective is different from yours is like criticizing a man for marry a woman you don’t think is pretty enough for him.

                The man is a spoiled, entitled diva but he has earned his every inch of his status as an aging l’enfant terrible and deserves more respect from you.

              • Fast Eddie says:

                Okay GW. Based on your circuitous logic, e.g. LD made best young player at 20 in the world cup, went to 3 world cups and achieved his goals (which was not playing for a big Euro team, although how you know this beyond me) means LD had the talent.

                Sorry GW. Landon had the best chance that any player could have gotten. A world class club just got a new head coach and that coach hand picked Donovan to join the team, even running off a very good attacker by the name of Lucas Podolski.

                What did Landon do with this opportunity handed to him on a silver platter? After Klinsmann and his asst. Vasquez were sacked the coach of Bayern’s reserve team, who stayed at Bayern, said of Donovan, he was not good enough to play for Bayern II.

                The fact that you use different parameters does not change the fact that LD was not good enough to play (start) for the Big Teams.

              • GW says:

                F. Eddie

                My experience has been that stuff that happens with players like Landon is never as black and white as you would like. LD is neither the greatest player to ever put on a pair of cleats, nor is he the effete, simpering, limp wristed Fredo sucking up to Johnny O, that you would have others believe.

                “Okay GW. Based on your circuitous logic, e.g. LD made best young player at 20 in the world cup, went to 3 world cups and achieved his goals (which was not playing for a big Euro team, although how you know this beyond me) means LD had the talent.”

                In the first place, Landon’s talent is not in question. In the second place what I said was playing for the US in the World Cup seemed to be more of a priority that playing for a “big Euro team”.

                How do I know that?

                Mostly from the way Donovan ran his career. I also have actually done some research on the guy over the years. I read in an interview where LD talked about what it was like for him growing up. I don’t have a link to the original article I read but this should serve:

                link to jockbio.com

                Bear in mind LD and the author could both be lying or shading things but we have what we have.

                To reiterate, my impression is LD grew up with the USMNT as “his team”, and has always been a USMNT player FIRST. And it also seems he was always interested in promoting the game in the US, though that might have been an excuse to stay home.

                It’s clear to me his interest in club soccer was primarily as a means of facilitating his USMNT career. And if he wasn’t going to get PT in Germany LD was not going to waste time sitting around.

                Ironically, he did what so many of you criticsize Adu for not duing.

                The other thing about Landon is he is world class stubborn and obviously doesn’t let what people like you or me think of him, stop him from doing what he thinks is right. He goes his own way.

                I happen to think he MIGHT have been a better player had he stuck with the Germany thing or found a place with a “big club” in Europe but it is very, very clear that Landon did not think that way nor did he consult with me.

                The reason for the “MIGHT” is that LD strikes me as one of those people that are so mentally tough, some call it stubborn, that if he does not get his way he becomes practically useless to those trying to bend him to their will. There is an upside and a down side to this mentally tough business.

                And when you look at how much LD has achieved going “his way” it is hard to argue that the man was wrong about himself and his career path.

                Clearly you don’t think much of his career path or his achievements and believe you are entitled to more. Is he a friend of yours? Does he owe you money or something?

                As far as I can tell, the man gave what he could and that is all anyone can do.

                “Sorry GW. Landon had the best chance that any player could have gotten. A world class club just got a new head coach and that coach hand picked Donovan to join the team, even running off a very good attacker by the name of Lucas Podolsk…..What did Landon do with this opportunity handed to him on a silver platter? After Klinsmann and his asst. Vasquez were sacked the coach of Bayern’s reserve team, who stayed at Bayern, said of Donovan, he was not good enough to play for Bayern II……The fact that you use different parameters does not change the fact that LD was not good enough to play (start) for the Big Teams.”

                F. Eddie,

                JK did hand pick LD for Bayern.

                And JK has proven to be a pretty good judge of young talent.

                Failing to make the grade for Bayern Munich is not the same as failing to make the grade for the Union or Chivas USA. A lot of really good players don’t make it there and it is not solely because they are not “good enough”. It’s not as black and white as you make it out to be.

                That Bayern reserve team coach’s name was Gerland and if you talk to him after the fact, you’ll get a slightly different story, but you should read a real writer for a better insight. And this writer, Honigstein, is not known for writing fluff boy pieces.

                link to si.com

                The point is it is not as black and white as you might have others believe.

              • Fast Eddie says:

                WOW. I did read your complete post. Imagine that.

                It is black and white. Landon Donovan did not have the talent and/or drive to make it at a Big Club.

                All you have done is give reasons (excuses) as to why that was. Basically saying it was Landon’s decision. Look, I like Donovan and thought he should have gone to Brazil.

                But there is no question, he never had the talent to be considered world-class even though he had the best opportunity any player could have hoped for to prove himself.

              • GW says:

                F. Eddie

                You might have read the whole thing but maybe you didn’t get the point.

                “ Donovan did not have the talent and/or drive to make it at a Big Club.. But there is no question, he never had the talent to be considered world-class even though he had the best opportunity any player could have hoped for to prove himself”

                I don’t remember anyone in this discussion mentioning that Donovan had world class talent. That is not a requirement for making at a big club though it doesn’t hurt. And the definition of world class is so elastic it is almost meaningless.

                No question? Why? Your argument amounts to “because I said so”. You are trying to prove a negative, an absence of talent and drive. And we all know you can’t prove a negative.

                I am fairly certain that any survey of any number of neutral authorities, coaches, players, technical directors, etc., will agree with me that Donovan had the talent to “make it with a big euro Club”. Bayern is not the only club to fit that description.

                The question of drive is more controversial and only LD knows the real answer to that.

                I happen to think that yeah, it is as simple as Donovan never really wanted to do the big euro thing . And if you don’t really want to do something, it usually does not happen.

                Instead he focused his drive on the US country and club thing.

                I can’t prove that is actually the case but you can’t prove it isn’t

                There is a player with something of a similar story in that he could have, if he had really wanted to, played at a much higher level but stayed at a lower level until near the end of his career. Then he moved to Barca. That would be Henrik Larsson. Henrik is probably better than LD but had a career arc with many similarities.

                There are good players out there who do what they want not what you expect them to.

                By the way, I wanted Donovan in Brazil but , for me, his absence was his fault for not wanting to be there bad enough to adjust his act to fit the new management of the team. 10-12 years of doing whatever you want makes it hard to adjust to a completely new bossman especially when you don’t have as much juice on your side of the argument as you used to.

                To be fair, I think we all forget that JK only had about three years ( it added up to about 11 games and a tough Gold Cup tournament that could have been very useful to JK and his plans ) to get prepped for Brazil, instead of the four he would have had if the USSF had made up their mind about BB sooner.

                The point being that the sabbatical , which I had zero issue with except that it was too short and too late ( should have been taken right after the World Cup and lasted longer), deprived JK and LD of some very valuable time and games in which they might have been able to work out a role for LD on this team.

                But we’ll never know.

      • sregis says:

        if some kid and his parents feel Scandinavia is his best option for development, what’s the problem?

      • David K says:

        How many US born and raised players have emerged from Euro academies and have gone on to having impressive club carreers or represent the Nats? Jovan Kirovski? Kenny Cooper? Gooch? Not to many. Most flame out and never even really make it at the MLS level either.

        • Anthony says:

          John O’Brien was great except for his injury issues, and Gooch was never in an Academy.

          You cannot consider the level of talent in the US 20-15 years ago to what it is now. US aggregate talent has increased a great deal, but it is not near the elite teams. We are now near midlevel World Cup teams top 20/15 teams, consistently. That being said, it is still a numbers game; a certain number of kids with the requisite talent and see if the they have the right mix of environment/drive/luck to reach their potential. MOST Americans can’t qualify for academies because THEY DO NOT have EU citizenship.

          That being said, coming through an academy is hard. It is an issue of finding coaches who believes in you as well as the number of people with comparable talent at your academy. Think about this: Jonathan Spector, Rossi and Pique were all at the Man Utd Academy system in 03-04 (they were all on Man Utd books together through 06). However, Spector was named youth team captain, Pique played reserves and Rossi made a total of 5 appearances in his time at Man Utd.

  4. rph says:

    I’m interested to learn what his claim to citizenship is. Did his parents naturalize? Spending a few summers in the States does not entitle one to citizenship by any stretch of the imagination. Anyone have more info on how he qualifies?

    • chris says:

      His dad still lives here

    • James says:

      There’s a lot more to it than that. Search around on google, there’s a couple good articles on his citizenship status. From what I understand, he moved here at 9 or 10, and was brought to Arsenal at 16. As Wenger says, he’s very much an American kid. IF his parent(s) get citizenship before he turns 18, he has automatic citizenship. If they don’t, I think it would be a very hard road for him to obtain it.

      From what it sounds like (which, really, who knows) he seems like his roots are in the US, and he’s refused a call up for German youth teams, which would have lost his opportunity to play for the US. Whether that was coincidental or purposeful, I don’t think anyone really knows. But, reading too far into it, it SEEMS like he wants to play for the US.

      • J says:

        He’s already played with Germany’s U-15, 16, and 17 teams. So it doesn’t SEEM like anything. He is still young and keeping his options open as he withdrew from play with Germany in the U-17 UEFA Cup.

        • James says:

          I don’t see your point. He’s also trained with us youth teams, but couldn’t play due to not being a citizen. My point is that, from my understanding, had he played in the uefa youth tournament, he would be ineligible for the USA regardless of future citizenship. Thus, PERHAPS, that’s why he didn’t play

          • J says:

            He didn’t play b/c he is weighing his options. He’s only 17, he’s going to weigh his options. However, if Germany decides they want to make him an intricate part of their team, he’s going to play for them, and you can’t blame him. If he isn’t going to be an intricate part of their team, just like Julian, then he will play for the US, if possible.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        The kid is German and has played for German YNTs. The dad lives here under permanent resident status (aka green card). He is not a citizen. he may apply for it. If he ever gets it the theory is the kid could get child citizenship. But on his own merits you’re talking foreign citizen working abroad, no continuous presence or interest in playing club here. It’s all about the father, (and whether he really wants to play for us).

        • Edmondo says:

          Just because you are born in a country, does not make you a citizen. Most countries in the world do not apply that rule. I have lived on 4 continents and been to 30plus countries. This is usually a myopic view that some Americans have (no slight in your direction per se). Now he has German citizenship, but I am willing to bet he feels Ethiopian and American…probably Ethiopian first. I have read interviews and watched interviews by the kid, he stated he feels very American. It doesn’t hurt that DC where he grew up has a VERY large Ethiopian population and diaspora. I willing to bet he feels more at home there. I can empathize. He lived here from 9-16 and I moved to the US and lived here from 9-18. Those are key formative years and I feel very American and Latin (South America).

          The few things we know: (1) Her played both for the German and US youth national teams (2) he has refused Germany call ups past that to games that would have cap-tied him down (3) he had naturalization interview in May with his dad which leads me to believe that he should be a citizen by early next year (4) he spends the off season with his dad and friends in DC and (5) Arsene Wenger describes and thinks that he will play for the US.

          Do we know anything for sure? NO. However, I think it is a lot likely than not that he plays for the US and he is not a foreigner. I also don’t consider Fagundez a foreigner and Zalelam is a lot closer to citizenship that him.

        • Mason says:

          Father and son have both applied for citizenship. Goff at Washington Post had that story back in March or April. At the time, they were finalizing their application. Assuming that meant turning in the last of the paperwork, processing started at that point. With standard processing times, they should have their naturalization certificates by September or October.

      • ann says:

        Afaik, it wasn’t Zelalem who refused the call up for the German U team, but Arsenal who didn’t release him (not the 1st time it happened). There is no duty to release U team players for international competitions.

        • Anthony says:

          Again (read my comment above), give me proof that he was told not to go. All I read what that he declined. He might have been pressured, but that would pure supposition on your part and mine.

    • Dennis says:

      His parents are Ethiopian, he was born in Germany, but his father is applying for US citizenship which, if dad gets it before Gedion turns 18, would make him a US citizen as well. That would mean he had 3 countries to choose among. The Ethiopian coach has already said he hopes he will play for Ethiopia. His dad is leaning toward the US. Germany called him for the U-17 WC, he declined, his previous games for German youth teams were friendlies. I believe if he had played in the FIFA U-17 championship he would have been tied to Germany for ever (or at the very least would have had to file to make a one-time change). His declining the German invitation has been taken as a sign he wants to at least keep his options open.

      • 1st Time Caller says:

        If he had accepted that call up and played he would have been tied to Germany (or Ethiopia) forever, or to put it more clearly: the US option would be off the table forever. This is due to the second prerequisite to filing a one time switch that states the player must be eligible for both countries in question at the time when he is appearing for his (soon to be) former country on a youth level. Since he wasn’t eligible to play for the US then, he wouldn’t ever be had he accepted that call up and appeared for another country.

        Furthermore, IF his father gains permanent resident citizenship before Gedion’s 18th birthday and he is able to get his US passport at that point he could theoretically represent Germany (or Ethiopia for that matter) at the youth level and still be eligible to file his one time switch to join the US at some point in the future, so long as he doesn’t get capped for another country in a competitive match.

        Hope that all makes sense

        • Edmondo says:

          It is NOT permanent residency, it’s CITIZENSHIP that matters for cap-tie eligibility. He is already a permanent resident.

        • Mason says:

          Mostly correct except that Permanent Residence and Citizenship are two different things. Permanent Residents are foreign nationals who have the right to Permanently Reside in the USA, but they are not citizens.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Reading in between the lines, I think he played for Germany at the level he did (a) because he could and (b) because he wouldn’t have made a permament decision. He couldn’t play for the US at that time, so it was do I showcase my skills in this forum for another team or not. Not playing at the big tournament tells me he wants the door open and if he pursues citizenship, we then also become a practical “he can” possibility and realistically the frontrunner. He may be German but he plays in England and his dad lives here, so his ties back are limited. The signs point to a positive outcome if he is pursuing citizenship.

          However, legally speaking, his citizenship comes through his dad……if his dad gets it……so there is a train there that has to keep rolling, independent of what the kid may want. The kid is playing and living abroad and has not inherent claim to citizenship on his own. He’s legally vicarious. There are potentially hitches in immigration, did dad follow the rules, did dad stay here continuously, etc. “Luke Rodgers.” If he’s half the talent they say I’d like to get him but until he takes the oath it’s not a gimme.

          • Mason says:

            Why do you keep writing things like “if he pursues citizenship” when it has been reported by reputable sources that he is and that said application is likely being processed by USCIS as we speak?

        • GW says:

          1st time,

          Goff in his article said that Zelalem’s dad is applying for his own citizenship. He, the father,has already been a permanent resident long enough to do that.

          Once that happens, Gedion, under the process they are going through, can then turn around and automatically become a citizen because , at 17, Gedion is still a minor.

          It also turns out that Germany will allow you to keep both a US passport and a German passport if you are a minor when acquiring those passports and Gedion can stay a dual citizen I guess, the rest of his life.

          This matters to Arsenal because with a German passport Gedion counts as an EU player, a big deal with England’s permit rules. Had Gedion waited until he was an adult to do this he would have been forced to choose between German and US citizenship.

          You have to think Gedion wouldn’t go through all this if he wasn’t at least halfway thinking seriously about playing for the US.

          • ann says:

            Sorry, but that’s incorrect. In Germany you only can have dual citizenship until attaining one’s majority (with 18). From then on you’ve to decide which passport you want to keep.

            • Anthony says:

              Ann, are you German? I don’t doubt what you say about citizenship is correct, but you seem to be taking this Zelalem deal very personally.

            • BostonRed says:

              So all the German-Americans had to surrender their German citizenship at age 18?

              I believe the rules say that a person born with German & some other citizenship can keep it, if one parent is a German citizen. Those whose parents were perm residents in Germany would have to decide at age 18. Those who naturalize as adults would lose their German citizenship unless they received special permission first (Jurgen could probably do this if he decided to become a US citizen).

  5. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    JK Recruiting Office Is On The Case!

    • sregis says:

      this is the main point regardless of the citizenship and jingoistic experts here. JK is by now extremely well-versed and apparently very convincing in his recruitment arguments. this could well be his lasting legacy.

      • GW says:

        If you read the article,s JK did not have to work that hard with this kid.

        His friends are all in the DC area ( God help him) and what kid doesn’t want to be with his friends?

        He went through his junior high and most of his senior high time in the DC area. Assuming he had a good time, I can’t think of a faster way to turn a kid into an American.

  6. corrine says:

    I cant wait until USA fields an entire team of players that grew up in Europe

    • Increase0 says:

      Worked for Argentina and Messi….

      • Ted Tran says:

        This, we don’t have the resources to develop players, and we probably will never have them. Its better to have nations that are known to develop players, develop our players.

      • 1st Time Caller says:

        Tooo bad what HASN’T worked for Argentina (+ Messi) is winning something like a WorldCup.

        Not exactly the example I would want our federation aspiring to.

    • slowleftarm says:

      While my views on this are well known, Zelalem lived in Maryland from age 10-16 (or something close to that) so I think it’s more accurate to say he grew up here, at least partially. This isn’t some passport citizen who’s never been here, Zelalem was developed in large part at a Maryland club.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Yeah, I mean the kid was scouted here at Dallas Cup by an American Arsenal washout, while playing for a domestic club team. It is not dissimilar from Kenny Cooper’s story.

        You can do the same thing with AJ and some other players, ok, is born here enough, how long do they have to play here, I mean, who cares?

    • GW says:

      Algeria’s World Cup team had 17 of the 23 born in France.

  7. Brad C says:

    Things went pretty well for Jones, Brooks, Chandler, Green, and FJ…

    These guys are smart enough to know that if they want to play in a World Cup that their odds are better choosing the USMNT. And it probably has helped them in their club situations as well…

    • Ted Tran says:

      Interesting that the German-Americans made it through, but the Mex-Americans got left out.
      Should be interesting going forward as there’s a large amount of u23 through u15 Mex-Ame and whether or not they continue to fail to make it to the senior squad.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Which Mexican-American players deserved a spot on the roster? I can’t think of any.

        • sregis says:

          he didn’t say anything about “deserving”, just that it was interesting…which it certainly is.

          • Mason says:

            It’s only interesting if any of them were good enough.

            • GW says:

              It’s a shame but if Herc has not been injured and out of form he would have had a great shot at the 23 and could have been really useful in Brazil.

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            But there is an explanation, Gomez lost form and got hurt, Castillo was awful as a back and got pushed aside as a M, Torres went off boil, Orozco isn’t incredible.

            In contrast? Jones! FJ! Green! Look how they played. Chandler, Brooks, less so, but then they were at need positions poorly staffed.

            And Williams is the counter-example that proves being able to say multisyllable words that mean one thought didn’t get you on the plane, you had to be perceived as good or useful.

            I also think the WC team was geared to a scrappy side and the Mexicans aren’t scrappy players. Torres and Castillo are about as soft as the pool has. Can you imagine them trying to hold off Germany or Belgium for 90? There’s a reason…..

  8. JakeTheSnake says:

    Multiple articles on Zelalem in several days….is this a set up for a bigger announcement soon?

    • BostonRed says:

      Probably helps that his team is making a (first time ever?) visit to the US.

      • Ryan says:

        I believe its the first in 30 years. At least i think i remember reading that somewhere.

        • MLSsnob says:

          First time? And they have a permanent US office in NY? How is that possible?

          • Fast Eddie says:

            I don’t believe Arsenal has any office in NY. I don’t believe any Preemie club has an American Office.

            Maybe, you are confusing Arsenal with Bayern Munich.

    • PT Barnum says:

      Even better. A closer look at his citizenship papers suggests that his father, Sidd Finch, is actually an American citizen by birth, easing his path toward this thing that we have all been working toward.

      • Pitch invasion says:

        Oh Sidd, he of the 140 mph fastball and virtuoso french horn abilities. Yes, he it definitely an American.

      • Cairo says:

        I worry about his foot size, though. If you recall, Finch had huge feet. How would those possibly work on a soccer field? I am less excited now that I know Finch is his dad…

    • GW says:

      Arsenal are on tour.

  9. AP says:

    We have to stop coveting our neighbors goods.
    We are producing talent here, but because its so close, all we can see are the flaws.
    With those on the other side of the pond, all we do is fill in the gaps, in our own head, turning them into “world beaters”.
    I would put the Pulisic Brothers, Wright, Gallardo, Zendejas, Gall & Rice in the mix.
    If WE focus on that “truth”, WE will be OK, with or without Zelalem.

    • leej says:

      xeno much?

      • Come On says:

        Look at the players he named. Xeno? Hardly. Grow up or at least conceal your eurosnob a bit.

        Please. Way too much love for unproven guys like Gedion here. He ain’t even in the eligible pool, and he was super forgettable out there today. Bullied off the ball, stepped in front of with ease by nobodies.. he got easily punked repeatedly and his one “moment” was mediocre.

        The halftime removal was merciful. That kid might be good one day but he was garbage in the middle of the park today. Ethiopia wouldn’t put him in their Best 23 for a tournament starting tomorrow, and that’s a fact.

      • ASP says:

        Yes .. I believe

  10. leej says:

    wake me in 7 years . if he picks the usa