Gedion Zelalem, an 18-year-old Arsenal midfielder, stole the show in the United States under-20 team’s 4-0 win over New Zealand at the U-20 World Cup.
Zelalem, who was born in Germany but recently became an American citizen and switched his national team allegiance to the U.S., is now the most hyped prospect in the U.S. system. In his first start for the U.S. U-20’s, he drew rave reviews from the American soccer world with his skill on the ball.
Zelalem pulled off a nutmeg at one point, passing the ball in between a helpless New Zealand defender’s legs to teammate Bradford Jamieson IV:
He followed that up with a beautiful assist, while being swarmed by four New Zealeand defenders, to set up fellow midfielder Paul Arriola’s goal to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead:
Zelalem wasn’t done just yet. Later in the game, the young midfielder delivered a beautiful rabona — which, somehow, didn’t result in yet another U.S. goal:
While USMNT fans tried to remain cautiously optimistic prior to the game, Twitter still exploded following Zelalem’s brilliant performance:
Gedion Zelalem was sensational for the USA U20’s today. Some quality bits of skill and an assist. Comp should be up later.
— Terry (@TerryAFCx) June 2, 2015
I’m not saying Gedion Zelalem is the greatest soccer player ever. I’m also not saying he’s not.
— Usry (@RobUsry) June 2, 2015
Thought for sure Zelalem was wiggling loose to find the wider option. It was the easier one, anyway. Didn’t even see Arriola. And I have TV.
— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) June 2, 2015
American Soccer Now’s John Godfrey wrote after the game, “Zelalem’s vision and skill on the ball were nothing short of spectacular, and together with Hyndman the U.S. now has two impressive central midfielders it can rely on to create and distribute.”
Fans and writers aren’t the only ones who are enamoured with Zelalem, USMNT senior team coach Jurgen Klinsmann told ESPN’s Doug McIntyre three weeks ago, before Zelalem was even eligible to play for the U.S., that he believes the talented midfielder could play for the senior national team right now:
“I think he’s already at a level that he can definitely play on the senior team,” Klinsmann said. “He’s a special player.”
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