Gedion Zelalem, 18 year-old USMNT target and Arsenal prospect, at long last has received clearance from FIFA to play with the United States and has been added to the U-20 United States roster that is set to play for the U-20 World Cup later on this month.
United States Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati announced the big news through his Twitter account early Wednesday afternoon.
— Sunil Gulati (@sunilgulati) May 13, 2015
This is big news for the United States as they have been battling for the services of the young superstar along with Germany for a few years now.
Zelalem was born in Berlin, Germany to Ethopian immigrants and, following his mother’s death in 2005, moved to the United States, where he became a citizen right before his 18th birthday and played with several prestigious teams around the Washington D.C. area. In 2013, Arsenal invited Zelalem to join their academy and the young prodigy has been in London playing for the Gunners since.
FIFA rules state that a person who becomes naturalized must live five years in their new country before being eligible to play for their national team. This is to prevent players from becoming naturalized just to play in other countries that they are not native to in order to become part of a national team.
But the United States asked FIFA to make him eligible, as Zelalem has said that he feels American and has lived in the U.S. even before he was a soccer prospect. Also, the U.S. Soccer Federation feels like the case of Gideon Zelalem does not violate the spirit of the rule, and now FIFA have finally given him the clearance.
Zelalem was immediately added to the roster for the United States in the U-20 World Cup, where he could be a key cog to the plans for the attack of the young USMNT.
With the addition of Zelalem to the roster, all 21 spots are now full. Here’s a look at the full roster:
GOALKEEPERS: Jeff Caldwell (University of Virginia; Todd, N.C.), Thomas Olsen (University of San Diego; Las Vegas, Nev.), Zack Steffen (Freiburg; Downingtown, Pa.)
DEFENDERS: Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur; Westcliff on Sea, England), Matthew Miazga (New York Red Bulls; Clifton, N.J.), Shaquell Moore (Valencia Huracan; Powder Springs, Ga.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City; Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Desevio Payne (FC Groningen; Greenwood, S.C.), John Requejo (Club Tijuana; Carpinteria, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Russell Canouse (Hoffenheim; Lancaster, Pa.), Marco Delgado (Toronto FC; Glendora, Calif.), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham; Dallas, Texas), Joel Soñora (Boca Juniors; Buenos Aires, Argentina), Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal; Montgomery County, Md.)
FORWARDS: Jordan Allen (Real Salt Lake; Rochester, N.Y.), Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht; Beaverton, Ore.), Maki Tall (Red Star; Washington, D.C.), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes; Loomis, Calif.)