Stephen Gough, Washington Post
Julian Gressel had to share this news with his family in Germany. More than nine years after moving to the mainland United States, four years after marrying his sweetheart from Providence College, and two months after completing the naturalization process, he plans to report to the U.S. men’s national soccer team. bottom.
“I had a wonderful conversation with Grandpa. [Emil]He’s a big football fan and a big fan of mine,” Gressel said on Saturday. “I could really hear how proud he was of his voice and how excited he was to get this opportunity that I had worked so hard for.”
He was one of 24 players invited to an MLS-focused training camp for friendly games against Serbia on Wednesday and Colombia on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Gressel is not the first dual citizen to join a US team. Many had European and Latin American roots, and some had connections with more than three countries. In Gressel’s case, his relationship is different because he had to choose a team rather than from a lineage revealed by Internet research.
His status has been open for years: He was a German-born attacker and wingback with the No. 8 pick in the 2017 MLS Draft, won Rookie of the Year and spent six seasons in the league with Atlanta. was one of the assistant leaders of DC United, and since last summer Vancouver.
The problem is he wasn’t American. Gressel, who isn’t good enough to represent Germany, will have to wait until his marriage completes a three-year naturalization process to qualify for the United States. I got married early. The pandemic extended the waiting period, but after clearing all the hurdles, he attended the ceremony in Virginia. (The trade to the Canadian team did not affect his status.)
“It has definitely been a long journey, one that I have enjoyed ever since I first set foot in America. [and] I fell in love with this country,” said Gressel, who came to Florida as an exchange student for part of high school. “That’s why I’m so excited to be on the field representing the United States.”
Gressel’s age adds another wrinkle. National team rookies are typically in their early or mid-twenties. He turned 29 last month. The next World Cup in 2026 in the United States, Mexico and Canada will take place when he is 32 years old.
The annual US Winter Camp takes place when in-season European-based patrons are not available. He has 15 calls this month and is under the age of 24. It can also help players with little or no international experience make an impression when roster heavyweights such as Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are unavailable due to club commitments. , will feature just five World Cup members from MLS teams gearing up for the season opener scheduled for February 25th.
Gressel was summoned last week from camp in Vancouver, Spain.
“I want to give chances to many players who haven’t experienced it yet. [played international games] Not yet,” FC Dallas’ Paxton Pomikal, a 23-year-old midfielder who has played in one senior game before, said at a press conference in which Gressel was also present.
“This man is here,” said Pomical, nodding and smiling at Gressel. “It’s going to be a fun week. Everyone is looking forward to the opportunity for a few minutes.”
As his naturalization progressed last summer, the process of getting Gressel into U.S. camps within a year began. His agents, Nikko Roffo and Patrick McCabe of CAA Stellar, had a conversation with US coach Greg Berhalter.
“I kept Greg informed in the hope that I might have a chance at the World Cup, but the team was already set,” McCabe said. It showed that he could be a strong candidate.”
Burhalter’s priority until the fall was fine-tuning the World Cup squad, which advanced to the Round of 16 before losing to the Netherlands. In the weeks that followed, Burhalter was caught in a bizarre rift with the family of attacker Gio Reyna, and United States Soccer remains undecided on whether to keep him. It swirled, Gressel said.
With Berhalter in trouble, the USSF appointed Assistant Anthony Hudson to select a squad and oversee the camp. Among his calls was a call to Gressel.
“I was very surprised when I was first on the qualifying roster and Anthony Hudson called me and asked if I wanted to participate,” said Gressel, from Neustadt in northern Bavaria. said. “It gives them a chance to get to know me, and whatever happens in the future, they’ll worry about it later.”
How Hudson uses him in camp and possibly in friendly matches was to be shared with Gressel this week. came. Whether Gressel is lined up as a forward, winger, or deeper wingback, his strength lies in delivering killer crosses from the right flank, and he averaged 10 assists per season in his MLS career. is recording.
In the US roster, he is listed as a defender, and in the traditional four-man formation, right-back Serginho Dest and left-back Anthony Robinson are at the front, as they did at the World Cup. It has the flexibility to skyrocket.
“I’m excited to build on what happened at the World Cup and what happened in the last four years,” Gressel said. “Everyone is eager to participate and make a name for themselves and be considered for the future.
“This is a big opportunity for a lot of young players, some veterans,” he added with a smile.