Late last night the Washington Post's Steven Goff reported that Arsenal youth prospect Gedion Zelalem was nearly through the process of becoming an American citizen, one of the big stumbling blocks in choosing a national side. Of course, since it was just one week ago that we got got by a fake Twitter account, we were (understandably) a bit tentative to believe it.
Well, unlike last time, Grant Wahl is here to save New Year's, rather than ruining Christmas. The Sports Illustrated soccer guru reports this morning that Gedion Zelalem is, in fact, an American citizen, and intends to commit to the United States for international soccer.
As an American who'd really like to have a good national team, and an Arsenal fan who'd like to have a countryman in the team, I'm pretty excited. A lot of other American soccer fans are as well -- although Zelalem is only 17 years old and anything could happen, there's a lot of hype around the young man. Those of us who have watched him play are tremendously exited about his potential, and based on the (assumed) level of recruitment from US Soccer and the fact that he's already had a Champions League debut for Arsenal, we're not alone.
But again, he's really young, and plenty of young players have been highly touted only to, for one reason or another, fail to make it. There's a saying among baseball fans that "there is no such thing as a pitching prospect," and honestly in soccer I feel like that applies to practically everyone. So the excitement is tempered a bit, but it's not going away any time soon.
Speaking of soon, we may be seeing Zelalem in an American shirt relatively soon. While he can't be cap-tied until summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup, it's reported that he could play as early as the late March internationals against Denmark and Switzerland.