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Jesse Marsch coaching the U.S. national team wouldn’t be surprising – Sacha Kljestan

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NEW YORK – The New York Red Bulls were one of Major League Soccer’s biggest surprises in 2015, overcoming the departures of two stars in Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill to win its second Supporters Shield.

A big reason behind that was down to the team-oriented and high-pressing style of manager Jesse Marsch, who in his first year with the club had a 53 percent winning rate and as a result won the 2015 head coach of the year award in MLS. Sacha Kljestan, the first signing under Marsch and a vital cog in the team’s midfield, was impressed by his manager’s approach and believes that the 42-year-old could definitely lead the U.S. one day.

“I mean, we all think he’s a very good coach. And we wouldn’t be surprised if one day he coaches the national team,” Kljestan told NBCSports.com at an Adidas event that promoted the company’s new ACE 16 boot on Tuesday.

“I think he’s got a great head on his shoulders and his best quality is managing guys. I think that’s an important job with the national team so I wouldn’t be surprised if one day Jesse March coaches the U.S.”

Marsch’s success with the Red Bulls makes Kljestan a bit surprised that the manager spent three seasons looking for work in MLS after the Montreal Impact controversially fired him in 2012 – after only his first season in the job and one that saw the team narrowly miss the playoffs. Still, Kljestan is happy that Marsch ended up with the Red Bulls, a feeling that he says is shared with his teammates.

“We kind of chatted among the group of guys one day about how high we hold Jesse and how we all think he’s a great coach.” Kljestan said. “We found it funny and very odd that he interviewed for a lot of jobs in MLS and didn’t really get them for a few years after what happened in Montreal.

“Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. We’re thrilled that he’s our coach and he’s rebounded very well.

“He respects everyone; he loves all of us and takes care of all of us. We really try to give our best effort for him everyday because we all respect him highly as a coach and as a person.”
Back to the U.S., Kljestan is hoping that his success with the Red Bulls so far leads to a return to the Stars and Stripes. Yet, he acknowledges that he hasn’t heard from Klinsmann about coming back to the squad and he hasn’t attempted to reach out to the manager to see where he stands.

“I don’t think it’s the player’s job to ask a coach to come look at me. I’m sure he’s watching the games and I hope for a recall to national team one day,” he said.  “I still feel that I can be a positive to the national team. I have a certain skillset that I can think can be useful and unique for the national team.

“So when I get it [another call up], I’ll grab it with both hands.”

Kljestan’s exclusion from the past few U.S. squads, along with the likes of his teammate Dax Mccarty and fellow MLS standout Sporting KC’s Benny Feilhaber, has led to some backlash from fans and some who play in the North American league that Klinsmann ignores certain players.  Feilhaber told reporters that he doesn’t understand why the aforementioned players continue to get snubbed, which led to a response from the national team manager.

Kljestan hasn’t played for the U.S. since March 2014, when he started against the Ukraine in a 2-0 loss, but declined to elaborate on Feilhaber’s comments.
“I wouldn’t care to comment on it,” he said. “I’ll let my play do the talking. “

VIDEO: Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem pulls off ridiculous rabona, nutmeg, assist for USA

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“All aboard the Gedion Zelalem hype train!”

That’s right. The U-20 U.S. national team battered New Zealand 4-0 down under on Tuesday to book their spot in the knockout stages of the World Cup and at the center of their stunning display was Arsenal’s youngster Gedion Zelalem.

[ RELATED: Wenger on Zelalem’s future ]

Zelalem, 18, recently switched his national team allegiance from Germany to the U.S. and everyone was pretty excited about it.

Now, we are starting to see exactly why. Sure, the U.S. were cruising against New Zealand and it is okay to try tricks like these… but trying them and actually pulling them off is another thing. Fans of the USMNT were trying their best to be cautiously optimistic but the more you see of Zelalem, the more you realize he is a special talent.

Zelalem first performed a sweeping nutmeg on a bamboozled New Zealand defender and then assisted Paul Arriola for the USA’s third goal. He wasn’t finished there though, as the German-born central midfielder crossed in a rabona which the U.S. somehow failed to finish off as New Zealand cleared.

ProSoccerTalk spoke to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger recently about his plans for Zelalem and it is clear that he has a big future ahead of him. Many Arsenal fans are starting to chat about him becoming “the next Cesc Fabregas” which may seem a little premature but skills like these below will get fans of the Gunners and the U.S. national team thinking they have a superstar in waiting.

First up, here’s the sweeping nutmeg…

A tidy assist to Arriola for the USA’s third goal…

Then, he saved the best to last with this rabona…

US U-20’s batter hosts New Zealand 4-0, first team to reach last 16 of World Cup

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The U.S. U-20 national team reached the last 16 of the U-20 World Cup on Tuesday after a 4-0 win over host nation New Zealand in Group A.

After beating Myanmar 2-1 in their opening group game, Rab Ramos’ side turned on the style in their second match in front of over 15,000 home fans in Auckland.

[ RELATED: Latest U-20 World Cup news ]

Rubio Rubin gave the U.S. the lead after six minutes as he tapped home Bradford Jamieson’s shot on the line, then captain Emerson Hyndman scored before the break to make it 2-0 at half time. New Zealand’s defense couldn’t handle the pace of Rubin who went close on several occasions, while Gedion Zealem was pulling the strings in midfield with some audacious trickery in and around the box.

[ VIDEO: Zelalam’s rabona, ridiculous skills ]

Club Tijuana winger Paul Arriola smashed in the USA’s third goal in the second half after being set up by Zelalem and Rubin rounded off the win late on as he pounced on some hesitant defending from the All Whites.

[ RELATED: Wenger on Zelalem’s future at Arsenal ]

In the second half U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen had to make a few saves but the hosts failed to score as the USA’s central defensive partnership of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga dominated the New Zealand attackers. Rubin was too much for New Zealand to handle as the FC Utrecht striker showed exactly why he has already made his full national team debut.

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Rubin and Hyndman were both on the scoresheet.

As for Arsenal’s German-born midfielder Zelalem, his performance will make most of the headlines as the man who was just granted a citizenship switch by FIFA from Germany to the U.S. looked comfortable on the ball, dinked in a perfect cross with a rabona and generally looked head and shoulders above the rest of the players on the pitch when in possession of the ball.

What a talent he seems to be.

Ramos’ side are the first to rubber-stamp their spot in the last 16 of the competition and it is the first time since 2007 — when Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu tore it up  — that the U.S. has made it to the knockout stages of this competition.

An overwhelming feeling of satisfaction will greet Ramos, as a point in their final group game against Ukraine on Friday will guarantee top spot and an easier route through the knockout stages.

LINEUPS

New Zealand: Oliver Sail; Jesse Edge, Sam Brotherton, Adam Mitchell, Deklan Wynne; Bill Poni Tuiloma, Joel Stevens (Andrew Blake, 63′), Moses Dyer, Clayton Lewis, Matthew Ridenton (Monty Patterson, 45′), Noah Billingsley (Stuart Holthusen, 82′)

USA: Zack Steffen; Desevio Payne, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, Kellyn Acosta; Marco Delgado (Joel Sonora, 86′), Emerson Hyndman, Gedion Zelalem; Paul Arriola, Rubio Rubin (John Requejo, 84′), Brandon Jamieson (Tommy Thompson, 63′)

Goals: Rubin (6′, 83′), Hyndman (33′), Arriola (57′)

Gedion Zelalem debuts as US U-20’s beat Australia in friendly

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Overnight the U.S. national team’s U-20’s secured a 2-1 friendly victory over Australia as Tab Ramos’ side continue to tune up for the U-20 World Cup which kicks off in New Zealand on May 30.

[ RELATED: Wenger talks Zelalem ]

The U.S. fell behind in the first half after Stefan Mauk gave the Socceroos the lead but two quick-fire strikes from Joel Sonora and Maki Tall turned the game on its head and the Stars and Stripes held on for a victory at the Central Coast Stadium.

Arsenal’s promising young midfielder Gedion Zelalem made his debut in a U.S. jersey after FIFA confirmed his one-time switch from Germany to the USA last week. Zelalem replaced Paul Arriola in the 59th minute and soon after the U.S. struck twice to win the game.

Sonora’s equalizer on the hour mark was a superb curling effort from 30-yards out, while Tall’s game-winner came off an interception which he hammered home. Tommy Thompson of the San Jose Earthquakes hit the post in both halves as the U.S. created plenty of chances.

The U-20’s will play their final friendly before the World Cup begins on May 24 against Serbia.

Ramos’ youngsters open up their World Cup campaign against Myanmar on May 30 before facing hosts New Zealand and Ukraine in Group A. You can watch their progress on NBC Universo throughout the tournament.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger delighted Gedion Zelalem will play for USMNT

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MANCHESTER — Teenage sensation Gedion Zelalem has got the seal of approval from his club manager for selecting to represent the U.S. national team over Germany.

Earlier this week U.S. soccer announced that Zelalem, 18, had his switch from Germany to the U.S. rubber-stamped by FIFA as the Berlin-born midfielder is heading to the U-20 World Cup with Tab Ramos’ side.

[ RELATED: USMNT handling Zelalem correctly ]

Following Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Sunday, ProSoccerTalk asked Gunners manager Arsene Wenger about Zelalem’s decision to leave the German national team setup and switch to the USA.

Wenger said he spoke with the young midfielder about it and revealed some of Zelalem’s motives.

“I leave the freedom to the players to play for the country where their heart is,” Wenger said. “There are more and more people who have been educated in two or three different countries. He is an interesting case because he has been educated until the age of 9-10 in Germany and then 10-15 in the States. That is maybe the age where you go out of the family and start to have friends. He felt he wanted to play for the States.”

Zelalem has made two appearances for Arsenal’s first-team over the past two seasons, coming on as a substitute against Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League in 2014-15, but the youngster may head out on loan next season rather than continuing to play for the U-21 side.

“It is possible [a loan move] but I always test the players in preseason,” Wenger said. “After preseason I make an assessment on how close they are to the first team. If he is not close next year then yes, he needs to play somewhere.”

Wenger then hailed the influence of Jurgen Klinsmann and believes the U.S. national team head coach is capable of being a hugely positive figure in Zelalem’s burgeoning career.

“Fantastic,” Wenger beamed. “Jurgen has all the knowledge that is needed at the top level. He has now started to have a good experience as a coach as well. It will be fantastic for him [Zelalem].”