Arsenal v Galatasaray - Emirates Cup

Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem about to jump off the U.S. Soccer radar


On one level, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, because a lot of devoted U.S. Men’s National Team fans would love to see a player with Gedion Zelalem’s profile declare for the team. He’s young, talented, about to break through (in the next few years) with Arsenal, and while that doesn’t guarantee stardom, it still constitutes a profile that the U.S. hasn’t had in its talent pool.

On another level, the meme quality of Zelalem’s U.S. national team potential deserves a reset.  The Berlin-born midfielder of Ethiopian descent who used to live in the United States, coming to the States as a nine-year-old. He trained with the U-15 team but couldn’t play because he wasn’t a citizen. Since, he’s appeared at U-15, U-16, and U-17 levels for Germany. He lacks citizenship, and according to a November report by the BBC, his parents would prefer he play for Ethiopia.

In other words, there’s no reason to be broken-hearted if Zelalem doesn’t play for the United States, because it was always a long shot – one that’s about to go away.

According to the German Football Association’s website, Zelalem has been named to the squad for UEFA Euro U-17 qualifying. Were he to appear for Germany in that competition, he wouldn’t be able to switch the to U.S., with only dual citizens allowed to make a one-time change before appearing at senior level.

Germany’s first qualifier is March 26 against Georgia, but given the 18-man squad plays three games in six days, Zelalem is likely to get at least a cap, particularly considering he’s appeared at this level for Germany before.

But looking that deep into the conversation is overkill. This isn’t a matter of whether Zelalem should or should not be considered American. That’s an entirely different (and more important) discussion, one which sports writers have little to offer the debate. You don’t need Richard Farley’s hot sports take on something academics spend careers pursuing.

This is about eligibility and intent. Is Zelalem eligible to play for the United States? Right now, no. Does he intend to play for the United States? Right now, no. Is there good reason to think the answer to either of these questions will change? Right now, no, and in two weeks, the questions will be even less relevant than they’ve been since Zelalem first appeared for Arsenal in January.

There is, however, some good news: Though Zelalem is unlikely to play for the United States, there are literally thousands of players 17 and younger across the country with real aspirations of a professional soccer career. Some of them are already on the U.S. national team’s radar, with places in Major League Soccer academies and prominent clubs meaning team sites, blogs, and local media are ready to give them coverage. If you really want to see a U-17, future national teamer, there may be one near you.

These players are U.S. players coming through the U.S. system who have real dreams of representing the U.S. They’re not somebody who is moving toward playing for Germany.

The Aron Johannsson example says we shouldn’t close doors, but Johannsson wanted to switch. Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler all self-identified as Americans, at some point.

Zelalem’s been playing for Germany since 2012. And in 2014, he’s likely to make that commitment final. This shouldn’t be news.

Allow me to congratulate Gedion Zelalem, should he play against Georgia. Here’s hoping this is the next step in a long and successful soccer career. That it won’t be with the U.S. shouldn’t make it any less relevant.

Men In Blazers podcast: Mourinho’s Chelsea return; Bradley’s 1st point

Men In Blazers
Leave a comment

Rog and Davo break down Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea with Manchester United, another stumble for Manchester City and Bob Bradley’s first Premier League point.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]

VIDEO: Altidore, Giovinco combine for TFC’s first-ever playoff goal

Sebastian Giovinco
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
Leave a comment

It’s been 10 years in the making, and Toronto FC finally have their first-ever goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

After failing to qualify for the playoffs in each of their first eight seasons, 2015 saw the Reds venture into the postseason for the first time ever, only to be thumped in the knockout round, 3-0, by their 401 derby rival Montreal Impact, of all sides.

This is the year, though, or so we’ve said and been told all season long. While it remains to be seen how deep of a run TFC can muster in 2016, they’ll always have the Jozy Altidore‘s terrible first touch; Altidore’s wayward second and third touches; Altidore’s overhead cross; and Sebastian Giovinco’s strike, all of which you can watch in all its hilarity glory below.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Playoffs edition | MLS Cup predictions ]

Julian Green’s historic first start, goal for Bayern Munich

Julian Green, Bayern Munich (Photo credit: Bundesliga / Twitter)
Photo credit: Bundesliga / Twitter
Leave a comment

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) United States international Julian Green scored in his first official start as title holder Bayern Munich eased to a 3-1 win over Augsburg to reach the third round of the German Cup on Wednesday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Green’s first goal in a competition match for Bayern came in the 42nd minute with a header off a cross by Thomas Mueller.

The 21-year-old American winger played in the previous German Cup round, coming off the bench in a 5-0 win over Carl-Zeiss Jena. Green has been in coach Carlo Ancelotti’s squad several times this season but this was his first start.

Green made headlines by scoring a hat trick against Inter Milan in a pre-season tour of the United States, then scored in back-to-back matches for the United States against Cuba and New Zealand.

[ MORE: MLS Power Rankings — Going to the playoffs edition ]

Ancelotti left many of his regulars on the bench against Augsburg and Green got his chance.

Another player made a comeback with defender Holger Badstuber coming off the bench late in the match. Badstuber had not played since an ankle injury in February.

Bayern, an 18-time German Cup winner, went ahead through Philipp Lahm in the second minute and David Alaba completed the victory in injury time.

[ MORE: MLS Cup predictions ]

Ji Dong-won had cut Augusburg’s deficit with fine angled shot above Manuel Neuer’s arms into the roof of the net in the 69th.

Both teams missed penalties, with Mueller shooting high for Bayern and Neuer saving the spot-kick taken by Koo Ja-cheol.

EFL Cup QF draw: Man United-West Ham; Arsenal-Saints in all-PL ties

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 23:  The League Cup trophy on display prior to the Capital One Cup third round match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on September 23, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Following the conclusion of Wednesday’s Manchester derby in the fourth round of the 2016-17 EFL Cup, the draw for the quarterfinal round presented a pair of all-Premier League clashes.

[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Manchester United will take on West Ham United at Old Trafford, while Arsenal will welcome Southampton to the Emirates Stadium. All quarterfinal fixtures will be played the week commencing Nov. 28.

As for the other two matchups, Liverpool host Leeds United at Anfield, and Hull City will face one of the three clubs they replaced in the PL this season, recently relegated Newcastle United, at the KCOM Stadium.

Full EFL Cup quarterfinal draw

Liverpool vs. Leeds United
Manchester United vs. West Ham
Hull City vs. Newcastle United
Arsenal vs. Southampton