Zelalem included in Arsenal roster for Red Bulls friendly

GedionZelalemArsenal1-CoventryCity (Getty)


U.S. Men’s National Team fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Arsenal prospect Gedion Zelalem might get that opportunity this weekend.

Zelalem was included in the 20-man roster that the Gunners named for Saturday’s high-profile friendly against the New York Red Bulls. The 17-year-old midfielder appears to have a decent chance at seeing some minutes in Arsenal’s preseason game at Red Bull Arena, as marquee players like Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and recently-acquired Alexis Sanchez are not in the squad.

Arsenal’s roster might be missing some star power, but still boasts plenty of quality. Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Kieran Gibbs, Wojciech Szcsesny, and Mathieu Flamini have all been included in the squad that will play in the Gunners’ first game in the United States in 25 years.

Plenty of eyeballs will be on Red Bulls strikers Thierry Henry as he faces his former club, but many of observers will also be hoping to see Zelalem in action after seeing him make his first-team debut with Arsenal back in January in an FA Cup win against Coventry City.

Born in Germany to parents of Ethiopian descent, Zelalem is a highly-coveted target of U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. The youngster, who signed a first-team contract this past March, might eligible to represent the United States in the near future if his father obtains U.S. citizenship.

Here is the full 20-man Arsenal roster for the upcoming friendly vs. the Red Bulls:

Goalkeepers (2): Damien Martinez, Wojciech Szczesny

Defenders (6): Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs, Isaac Hayden, Carl Jenkinson, Ignasi Miquel, Nacho Monreal

Midfielders (11): Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Abou Diaby, Mathieu Flamini, Kristoffer Olsson, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jon Toral, Jack Wilshire, Gedion Zelalem

Forward (1): Chuba Akpom


What do you think of Arsenal’s 20-man roster for the Red Bulls friendly? Expecting Zelalem to get a good run-out? Eager to see him in action?

Share your thoughts below.

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51 Responses to Zelalem included in Arsenal roster for Red Bulls friendly

  1. Landy Cakes says:

    Can I ask a question here.

    The Houston Dynamo have 2 stars above their crest. AND the San Jose Earthquakes have 2 stars above their crest…..


    • Billy says:

      I don’t get it.

    • Matt J. Brooks says:

      San Jose won in 2001 and 2003 and when they relocated to Houston the titles stayed in San Jose so when the franchise started back up they still have the 2 stars. Houston has 2 stars because they won in 2006 and 2007

    • Lost in Space says:

      San Jose Earthquakes were relocated to Houston and rebranded as the Dynamo. A few years later when MLS expanded the Earthquake brand was revitalized back in San Jose, keeping the original history. Hence both teams claiming the MLS Champions and the Stars.

      • JayAre says:

        This is true but Houston players won those Championships. I hate that idea because it really undermines the dynasty. They were really running things for a while. Sorta like the Spurs of MLS

        • Sean357 says:

          I feel like there is some confusion here with people thinking San Jose and Houston are both claiming the same championships. Just not true, San Jose claims the 2 before the original earthquakes moved to Houston. Houston claims the two they won after moving to the city. There is no double claiming of championships going on. Combined the 2 teams have won 4. Use your google

          • Sean357 says:

            Just if I misread there were quite a few of the same players. Those players can claim a legit 4

          • Landy Cakes says:

            Houston should just have 4 stars, that would make sense.

            • Kosh says:

              No it does not. SJ won those titles before Houston had a team so the SJ club owns those starts, Just like Houston won it’s titles after there was no SJ.

              Now the players who won those titles get to have four championship rings for their work.

              Titles and stars go to clubs (stars sit atop the crest), and rings go to players.

            • slowleftarm says:

              That would make no sense because the titles were won in SJ. It’s like Houston was a new team and the SJ team just took a break for a couple of years.

              • PD in Philly says:

                why the F@ck are we talking about this?

              • Landy Cakes says:

                Yeah I understand the principal. But the Baltimore Oriels are the old St. Louis browns, they have those championships, same with the Dodger or the Giants or any other teams that move. The San Jose expansion team is not the same team as the old Earth Quakes, even though they do have the same name. Just like the bobcats will not be the old Hornets in the NBA when they change their name. But whatever. Someone explained it to me, which is what I wanted.

  2. psxv says:

    I saw Zalalem and the US Soccer headline below it and my brain put them in the same sentence and I was excited for .37 seconds.

    • Ian says:

      you shouldn’t, the kid has said that he wants to play for Germany before.

      • Shawn says:

        never did he say that stop putting out false facts

      • Kosh says:

        Man, where do people come up with this stuff?

        Now as a kid he gets to and can change his mind – so maybe you are looking at something very new here. But I have to say this is the first I’ve heard of this.

        So is this new or are you just making it up?

        • Neil says:

          He can’t change to the US yet since he is not a citizen yet. If his dad becomes a US citizen before he’s 18 he becomes US citizen. However, he cannot choose Ethiopia or Germany before then or he can never switch to the US.

          • Kosh says:

            I know this, Neil. My comment was to Ian’s definitive statement that the kid has chosen Germany. While he can certainly do so, if he wants, I have not heard or read anything that supports Ian’s post.

      • Dennis says:

        According to wiki:

        “Zelalem initially trained with the under-15 side of the United States, but was unable to play in matches due to only being classified as a permanent resident, and not a citizen.[20] Instead, he played for Germany’s under-15 and under-16 sides, making two appearances for the under-15s and eight appearances for the under-16s.[21]

        In October 2013, Ethiopia’s coach Sewnet Bishaw and Ethiopian foreign minister Adhanom Tedros stated that they hoped Zelalem would opt to play for Ethiopia.[22]

        On the 12 November 2013, Zelalem represented Germany at under-17 level in a friendly versus Spain.[23] In March 2014, he withdrew from the Germany U17 national team for the Group 5 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship elite round fixtures.[24]”

        Many people have taken his withdrawal from the Germany squad as an indication he wants to at least keep his options open. His father, I believe, wants him to play for the US. He played soccer in the US from about age 10 to 16, at least one can claim he was “developed” in the USA.

      • away goals says:

        psxv must not have realized you had access to a vague, uncited comment made by a 17 year old that is surely binding.

  3. ED says:

    16 hours ago – New Roma signing Ashley Cole has said he rejected offers to play in the United States because he is …


    • JakeTheSnake says:

      He could go play in Columbus….that’s nowhere near a beach!

    • Anthony says:

      In case you didn’t know, when Ashley Cole’s lips move, you shouldn’t listen to anything. He is widely (and rightfully) regarded to be a despicable and selfish individual. My friends in London say he and Terry and the least liked English footballers. He is actually less liked than JT.

    • Kosh says:

      Ok, so?

      Once upon a time that kind of ignorant statement would hurt our pride…somewhat. Now? Who cares?

      Sounds to me like he’s maybe a little miffed he wasn’t rated at Lampard money. :) Seriously though, we have enough going on in our league right now to care about what Cole, based on his clearly limited knowledge of our league, thinks of us.

      I wish him all the best as he stays away from retirement.

  4. JakeTheSnake says:

    Any REAL news on Zelalem making any other steps towards US citizenship? That’s pretty much the only thing we really care about here…

    • Landy Cakes says:

      Who is this Vuvu Zelalem kid?

    • Don the Jewler says:

      Steven Goff Washington Post soccer writer (a respected and good source of info) reported before the WC that Zelalem and his Father were in Washington DC finalizing their citizenship. He has follow up with a few more tweets stating that he could not 100% confirm whether or not they actually were granted citizenship but by the same token has has stated their is no reason to believe they have not.

      This all occurred right around the time Germany was pressing Zelalem to commit to a Germany U-19 ? or U-21? team that would have permanently capped tie him to Germany. That he turned Germany down and then went to WDC to receive his passport / citizenship are good signs for US soccer

      • MLSsnob says:

        All speculative at this point, there’s no reason to get our hopes up until he’s rocking some sort of US jersey at some level. If he makes an appearance even for a youth squad then I’ll start hoping.

        • Don the Jewler says:

          Well he did rock Walter Johnson HS soccer jersey. so much for High Schools not being able to produce talent

          • Dennis says:

            Of the several US players with dual citizenship, he is one of those who actually played at the youth level in the US (from about 10 to 16 yo) so the USA can claim some credit for his soccer development.

          • slowleftarm says:

            I doubt he got much development playing high school ball. Our best players shouldn’t waste their time with that stuff and the move away from it is a positive one.

            • Increase0 says:

              What’s weird that HS could be good if they had actual coaches who focused on development rather than winning.

              I mean that’s not gunna happen soooo uh never mind.

              • chris says:

                You’re looking at high school soccer wrong. Club soccer and the USSDA is where players should work on developing. High school is a place where players come together to experience different tactics, sometimes play different positions then they are used to with the ultimate goal to win all for free. Well it used to be….USSF f*cked that up

              • r.benjamin says:

                Chris got it right here except the reason for HS soccer is to win and therefore show off for the co-eds. Insuring you get the hottest date possibly at homecoming. Club soccer is for developing.

      • Anthony says:

        I don’t know why my initial post has been sitting in moderation for 12 hours, but here it is again Zelalem might have just become a citizen or is not there’s a good chance he will be before the end of the year according to the Washington Post Article. This interview is for approval/disapproval. If approved, he gets a date for swearing in. This process takes 6 months or so depending on how busy that regional office is.

  5. Raymon says:

    Last year, he got significant playing time with the big boy squad in Asia. Look up his highlights from Japan (Nagoya Grampus, I think). He lit up the midfield. Given the number of absent ARS internationals, he should show at least :45 vs. NYRB. It’s gonna be fun. A play of the day or two, would not be expecting too much out of him would it? Hopefully, he has been consuming the calories and protein to get a bit more bulked up, so he doesnt look like a boy among men.

    p.s. if you hear his interviews he sounds like an American kid

    • JakeTheSnake says:

      He spent a lot of his childhood in America, right? That’s why I think it’s funny when people say USA is grasping at straws trying to get a “foreigner.” He grew up a good bit in the USA. Not sure where, I’m thinking….new jersey???

      • Raymon says:

        DC area I think Jake. That’s the reference that Don the Jewler made to his high school. He moved here in elem school, and grew up “developing” in the US system, starting at age 8-10 or so. He was scouted by Arsenal while playing club and HS ball IN THE FREAKIN US OF A. He is the first Arsenal contract player (signed on his 18th bday) who was BORN AFTER Wenger became manager. Here is his mostly American accent: link to player.arsenal.com

      • slowleftarm says:

        This is not like the Germericans or Johannsson. This guy grew up in the USA for a good portion of his childhood. Hopefully he plays for the US, especially if he’s as good as people hope.

  6. Raymon says:

    I hope the camera finds Jurgen Klinsmann in the owners box! Until Gedion gets cap tied with us, I hope JK woos the kid to make the Yanks his team of choice. So far, all the “circumstantial” evidence looks good (backed out of getting cap tied anywhere not-the-US, recent trip to DC, being showcased in NY).

    • r.benjamin says:

      We need to get the American Outlaws out there in NY chanting his name.
      And a Klinsman invite to train for the next friendly.. Room him with Julian G and T.Boyd.

  7. Dinho says:

    You know it’s a thin squad when you have “firepower” listed in the same sentence as Flamini and Gibbs. If the Red Bulls don’t show well, we have A LOT to worry about as a league….

  8. FRANK says: