Zelalem still undecided about national team future

NewZelalemCrop (ISIPhotos.com)

By IVES GALARCEP

When Gedion Zelalem took the field as a starter for Arsenal in Saturday’s friendly against the New York Red Bulls, there were plenty of U.S. Men’s National Team fans watching and hoping to get a glimpse at a future U.S. national team star.

Whether Zelalem actually plays for the United States is still very much up in the air though, and Zelalem made that very clear when he addressed questions about his national team future after Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls.

“No decisions have been made,” Zelalem said of his national team future. “They’re both great countries. U.S. is on the rise, Germany is already a great country, so whichever country I choose will be a good choice.”

Zelalem confirmed that he has yet to secure an American passport, but did admit that he was in the process of trying to receive one.

The 17-year-old midfielder started and played 45 minutes on Saturday. He had some good touches, but didn’t force things as he played in a right wing role rather than his more natural central midfield role.

What did you think of Zelalem’s showing against the Red Bulls? Think he can help the United States? Still not sure he will pick the USA over Germany?

Share your thoughts below.

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59 Responses to Zelalem still undecided about national team future

  1. beto says:

    So no hope for Ethiopia?

  2. whitacd says:

    Watched about 25 min of first half and he seemed pretty invisible. I don’t remember any touches and he looked to just be drifting around aimlessly.
    Obviously very early for him, but I couldn’t help but compare him to how Iheanacho played for Man City the other night vs KC — that guy was an absolute beast.

    • quozzel says:

      It was enough, though…he seemed a little tentative, and like a lot of young guys, more than a little reluctant to impose himself – he passed on a shot he should have taken first-time and had a go at – but you could see the speed, you could see the athleticism, you could see the technical ability…that kid is polished, polished, polished. He needs experience and confidence, obviously, but he was a much more physically impressive specimen than, say, Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsay, and he left very little doubt he was your pretty classic Arsenal midfielder in terms of technical ability otherwise.

      Arsenal might loan him out, but I’d think it’s more likely Wenger starts working him in the way he has so many other young players. He definitely looks like he has the goods. It also wouldn’t shock me unduly if Wenger gives him a nudge towards the USMNT. Giving the kid a platform to get quality games and develop only accelerates his progress for Wenger and Zalalem would get all that just WAAAAY faster with the USMNT than with Germany.

      Want. Very badly. I’m confident he’s #1 by a mile on Jurgen’s young-player wish-list. Nor do I see Germany being capable of – or willing to – match what we can offer, which is the virtual guarantee of a roster spot with the senior team RIGHT NOW. Why play for the German U20’s when you can get a spot on the American 2016 Olympic squad RIGHT NOW and probably also the 2018 USMNT for Russia? If I’m a young guy, it’s a fairly easy decision.

      • US100Ebook says:

        Why don’t we just promise him a World Cup spot for 2018. We can just drop a national team legend to make room for this corrupt bargain.

        • KingGoogleyEye says:

          I can see the complaints/conspiracies right now: “USA legend Clint Dempsey left off USMNT roster for Russia because unproven youngster Zelalem was promised his spot.”

          I heard that Klinsmann already promised Jermaine Jones’ kids a spot on the 2026 and 2030 rosters.

          • MLSsnob says:

            If Zalelem is still unproven by 2018 it’d be a reach to believe he’s making anyone’s WC squad. I know he’d be only 21 but by that point he’d have 4 years to break into someone’s starting like up.

    • dude1 says:

      He did almost have an assist on a nice Arsenal move. Robles made a pretty impressive save. If Wilshere had put it in the back of the net, we’d all be talking about Zelalem and how much he added to the game.

      He’s 17. He got a good touch, and good vision. That’s all we know about him, and all we got to see, if anyone actually watched the half of soccer he played.

  3. Fast Eddie says:

    Maybe he’s keeping his options open. After he gets US citizenship then he can play for the German Unders and not lose his option to play with the US.

    On another note: Bayern vs Wolfsburg in the Telekom Cup final. Julian Green was not named to the squad.

    • bryan says:

      i dont really know anything about that preseason tournament and the lineups teams usually use, but it seems Green hasn’t been a part of it at all. so being out of the Final doesn’t seem too surprising.

      • Fast Eddie says:

        Question please. “Green hasn’t been a part of it at all.” What is the “it”?

      • quozzel says:

        Hopefully they will loan him out rather than bury him on the bench.

        In addition to the upping the salary cap, and hopefully adding at least one more DP slot, when the new collective bargaining agreement in MLS comes down in January, my hope is that the league would also revisit its requirement to add an option to buy with all loans and add at least 1-2 slots for pure loan players. Especially with our different schedule, I would think MLS would be an extremely attractive league for Euro squads to loan their top young players out to for finishing…getting regular matches for an MLS squad would, IMHO, do Green a world more good than playing in the fourth division in Germany, and having a bunch of young Euro hotshots developing here would only add to MLS depth, something most MLS squads are badly in need of.

        Just my .02 worth.

        • Fast Eddie says:

          I pick the 3rd. option.

          I hope Julian makes the starting rotation from the start of the Bundesliga season.

        • Fast Eddie says:

          Great idea in your second paragraph. It would be good for the Bundesliga and MLS + U.S. soccer.

          However, I don’t believe it would include Julian Green. He is good enough to play in Pep’s starting rotation now.

        • bryan says:

          “getting regular matches for an MLS squad would, IMHO, do Green a world more good than playing in the fourth division in Germany”

          it’s an interesting argument and i actually side with it being better for him to stay in Germany at his age. what he is learning with Pep and training with the first team is perfect for him at his age. for Green, i say a loan should be on the cards at 20 if he still isn’t getting time with the first team consistently.

          for GZ, i especially think he should stay at Arsenal given he is only 17. as with Green, what he is learning with Wenger and training with the first team is ideal for his development at the moment.

          all that said, i don’t want to get into the mentality that Mexican players fell into where they would, for example, stay at a club like Barca for YEARS despite essentially getting no first team minutes. JDS is 24 and is just now leaving Barca. that’s insane. we all know GDS’ story. if anything, Vela did it right. stayed with Arsenal until he was about 21 and then went out on loan for PT.

          • Fast Eddie says:

            I agree with Quozzel. Green did what you now suggest he do last season. It makes no sense for him to duplicate what he already did.

            Either he makes the starting rotation at Bayern or he gets loaned out THIS season.

            • bryan says:

              Expat, yes he did, and look at how well it played out for him. it wouldn’t be duplicating it because the whole idea is to BUILD on it. last season was regularly training with the first team and that appearance in the CL. this season he should continue that training and aim for more first team minutes and more time with the US.

              you could be right, but just like when i bet you that Green wouldn’t start a game at the WC, i’ll bet that Green won’t get loaned out this season or find the starting rotation for Bayern. of course, we won’t put anything on the line since you already broke your own bets and simply created new handles to post under.

              and to be clear, i wouldn’t really care if he went on loan if it was to the right team, i just think he should stick it out another season given Pep said he does not want to loan him out. he’s clearly in Pep’s plans.

              • Fast Eddie says:

                So many things.

                I am not Expat, although it was him who put me on to this blog.

                Yes, Expat lost all his bets concerning Green starting in Brazil but he did come and post here that he lost and knows nothing about soccer. He paid his bet off.

                It is me who is still p*ssed at Klinsmann becaused he reneged and didn’t play him. I was a big mistake. And still, it backfired on Klinsi.

  4. bryan says:

    well, not that anyone doubted Goff’s report, but glad to hear GZ say he is currently working to get the passport. i have a feeling he will still end up with the USA, but i think Germany winning the WC certainly doesn’t help.

    • GW says:

      Zelalem is being smart. Once he gets his US passport then he will have a little more time to consider his options.

      It is also worth remembering that the US 2018 WC campaign will not necessarily go off the rails if this kid chooses to play for Ethiopia or Germany.

      I’m sure Arsene Wenger has been wrong about a player but I am not personally aware of another 17 year old US prospective midfielder with a good shot at the Arsenal first team in the next year or two. So Gedion has that air of “can’t miss” about him. Still, he might not pan out.

      Sebastian Lletget is 21, is already an American citizen (however is a friend of Rossi so he should be under suspicion), plays basically the same position for West Ham, another EPL team, has just as many league appearances for their first team as Zelalem has for his (0), and has been the next big USMNT thing since 2010. Or was until everyone forgot about him.

      But then Sebastian is not a hyped up dual national that the US is courting. And he is not at a glamour team ( the late OB Ladin’s fave team) like the Gunners. West Ham sucks.
      Everyone wants the hot new girl in town and forgets about the girls with the nice personality who have always been around.

      Names like Luis Gil, Mix Diskerud, Kelyn Rowe, Duane Holmes, Emerson Hyndman (remember his dad?), Dillon Powers, Alejandro Guido come to mind. Boring guys.
      The nice thing is that this go around JK will have two Gold Cups ( A team for the first one this time), the Copa America, the Olympics and hopefully, the Confed Cup to sort out all these players.

      And then Brad Davis will move to left back for the USMNT in 2018.

      • bryan says:

        so true about Lletget, people have just kind of stopped talking about him because nothing seems to change. i don’t even see him in the preseason squad for their game against Sydney FC. he probably wishes he could pull a Rossi, but that won’t happen. especially because he appears to have Argentine blood:

        “So proud of Argentina, we gave it our all. Hell of a game. Congrats to Germany. Well deserved.”

      • Mike R says:

        Yes, and those guys will bounced out at or about the round of 16 also.
        Boring indeed.

        Those guys are the average looking wife whose gained weight wears granny panties is the same all the time under the sheets will win and you can expect the same what passes for romantic life for the rest of yours.

        The young prospects are like the hot 21 year old who wears lingerie and blows you mind under the sheets and will rock your world yo the next level

        • Anthony says:

          I would normally respond, but I know you are joking. AND I will say from my experience that the hot 21/23yr old is not as good in bed as the 33/35yr who know EXACTLY what she is doing…

          ..I can’t believe I just responded to that comment…

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        “And then Brad Davis will move to left back for the USMNT in 2018.”

        It’s funny because it’s true.

    • JCC says:

      Things would probably be different if Germany hadn’t won the World Cup. Hell, I think Julian Green wouldn’t have made the switch to the US if he had to make the decision today. The win is now fresh in everybody’s mind, and it’s the way that Germany won the tournament in such a dominating fashion will make things more enticing for any dual-nationals for Germany moving forward to choose them because everybody wants to be a part of a winning team.

  5. AlexH says:

    He was foolish to disclose that he was getting a passport. He should stay in Germany and their youth system for as long as possible before making the jump to the USA, if that is what he wants to do. By announcing he is seeking a passport, he is just giving the German youth teams an excuse to focus on other players of which there are many.

    • bryan says:

      it was already well known man. this changes nothing. and what you say could be true, but one could argue the exact opposite. in reality, him getting a US passport won’t really affect Germany.

      • BostonRed says:

        Well, he would have to turn down any provisionally cap-tying competitions while waiting for the US passport. It would become obvious after a while.

        • bryan says:

          that is true and he already turned down the U-17 German Euro team he was called up for. if he had accepted (and played), he wouldn’t just be provisionally tied, he would have been locked to Germany and would not be eligible to file a one-time switch.

          that said, it sounds like it won’t be much longer until he has the passport though. i’m not sure there is anything else coming up in the short term that would require him to make another big decision like that.

          once he has the passport, he can play for both nations in friendlies. and if he were to play in a provisionally cap-tying youth game for either team, he could still do his one-time switch.

          • User222 says:

            If Gedion decides to represent Germany, it is reasonable to say GZ will not see any Germany senior team minutes at least for another two cycles… when he’s “seasoned” for international play at 24….

            and based on Germany’s system this would be normal.

            • bryan says:

              i agree, but i don’t understand what that has to do with what is being discussed. we’re debating how him getting a US passport affects his standing/status in the German youth set up. Alex believes it’ll have a negative impact while i don’t think it’ll change much.

              what you described is one reason why the US actually has a chance. he would likely be involved with the US at the Gold Cup, Olympics, and Copa America in addition to potentially at the Confeds Cup and 2018 WC. but that’s another topic that i’m sure everyone is in agreement on.

    • GW says:

      Alex H,

      When it comes to US German dual nationals I really doubt Jogi and his staff are not up on all of them.

  6. Fast Eddie says:

    Bayern 2, Wolfsburg 0 at 16th minute.

  7. cformusic says:

    both teams were tentative..it seems as if the players were sent out on the field with a message to play at half speed..really disappointing match even by visiting European team pre-season friendly standards

    • Fast Eddie says:

      I saw that too. In the beginning, maybe to just before halftime, I thought what a good game. Both teams are focused more to playing in the other team’s side of the field. Both sides were creating open spaces, making good passes and had good ball control.

      Then it hit me: Dang, this is a slow game.

  8. reignman says:

    Zelalem was about what I expected. A player who isnt ready quite yet but with a couple of moments showed some flash. He is only 17 years old and has a very slight build at that. Also it is extremely hard to judge a player in only 45 minutes of a fairly low pace preseason game.

  9. Fast Eddie says:

    Anyway, we should know a whole lot more about Julian Green and where he stands with Bayern very soon.
    This Thursday he will play maybe the whole game against Guadalajara since the only players with more experience than him are Lewandowski, Martinez and Shaqiri. So, in this game we should see more play by Julian Green than we have ever seen.

    Then the following Wednesday against the MLS All-Stars, Bayern will be joined by Neuer, Schweinsteiger, Müller. Götze, Robben and Dante. What Julian does and how long he plays in this game will tell us a lot more than we know today.

    • Deigo's Maradoughnuts says:

      I exepct minute-by-minute updates Eddie. I don’t want to hear that there was a blade of grass that Green touched, that you didn’t interview personally. We are counting on you. You got this, yes?

      • Fast Eddie says:

        Maybe you can watch both matches and see for yourself. You know, make up your own mind about this young boy who has up to this time only played 4th division soccer. Except getting in for 15 minutes in one game in Brazil

  10. Joe says:

    Zelaem reminds me of my own style of play but like 100 times better. He’ll be a stud just be patient.

    • Joe says:

      However I get the sense that unlike Julian he isn’t quite ready to commit to one team or another yet

      • whoop-whoop says:

        How nice of your senses to take his word for it. Of course until quite recently, Julian wasn’t ready until he was ready either.

  11. Reiter says:

    I don’t really ever recall Germany going after a player that didn’t have very strong connections to Germany. Özil grew up in Gelsenkirchen. Boateng in Berlin. It seems GZ was just born there. I’m not sure how much that will count for the DFB. They don’t really go after players the way we (and many other countries) do, and they’re not really desperate for talent. But still, the kid’s only 17. in 2-3 years, we’ll have a better idea.

  12. MikeG says:

    Bayern Munich BUYS talent. They buy more talent than they develop. It’s a numbers and millions game. Too much established talent in the way of Julian Green. It’s not his fault. Hopefully he gets a loan to a 2nd or 1st Bundesliga team this season.

  13. FRANK says:

    JERGUNN GO GET THIS KID
    AND PARKER TOO
    ZELAM AND GREEN AND BROOKS