The Washington Post

Arsenal prospect Gedion Zelalem, 14, considering long-term U.S. soccer options

Gedion Zelalem, the 14-year-old Arsenal prospect from the Washington area, is taking a harder look at someday representing the United States.

Zelalem is a German citizen, born and raised in Berlin before moving with his family to Bethesda, Md., in 2006. He has always dreamed of playing for Germany, but after a second call-up to a U.S. junior team this week and growing interest in the long-term course being set by senior boss Juergen Klinsmann, Zelalem might end up turning to his adoptive country.

“It’s a possibility to play for the U.S. in the future,” his father, Zelalem Woldyes, told the Insider. “He likes the way Klinsmann is doing things. He is very happy to go to camp again. We’ll see what happens.”

Of course, it’s too early to project how a young, raw player will develop and whether he will ever be good enough to play at the highest international level. But the U.S. Soccer Federation is taking a proactive approach.

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Zelalem is two to three years from becoming eligible for U.S. citizenship, his father said. Although he can’t play in an official match, Zelalem is allowed to participate in training camps.

On Sunday Zelalem will begin a week-long stay with 35 others at the U.S. under-15 camp at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. (The group also includes Klinsmann’s son Jonathan, a goalkeeper.) Zelalem attended a U.S. camp last year, as well.

Zelalem, a deep-lying central midfielder with two goals and six assists in Walter Johnson High School’s first 10 matches, has an unofficial invitation to enroll in Arsenal’s youth system when he turns 16 in January 2013. He is scheduled to work out at the Premier League club’s facility in London Colney over the Thanksgiving school break.

Zelalem’s full story, which appeared in The Post last month, is available here.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.


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