Again in 2015, future World Cup standouts Tyler Adams and Christian Pulisic headlined america’ under-17 nationwide staff. However for then U-17 coach Richie Williams, Alejandro Zendejas’ contribution that US squad — one which included two different members of the US roster ultimately yr’s World Cup in Qatar — was each bit as essential.
“Whenever you discuss personalities, he was one of many best guys inside that group,” Williams informed FOX Sports activities of Zendejas, the 24-year-old Mexican-American winger who is anticipated to make his senior debut for the USMNT in Wednesday’s 2023 -opening pleasant match in Los Angeles towards Serbia (10 pm ET). “He is an distinctive particular person.”
With membership commitments stopping Adams, Pulisic and the remainder of the Europe-based regulars out there for Wednesday’s exhibition or one other on Saturday versus Colombia, interim US coach Anthony Hudson chosen a roster stocked largely with out-of-season MLS gamers. The checklist contains 5 gamers who went to Qatar, plus prospects like Gaga Slonina and Paxten Aaronson who’ve but to interrupt by with their European golf equipment.
Nonetheless, Zendejas is maybe essentially the most intriguing call-up of all. Mexican powerhouse Membership America surprisingly agreed to launch Zendejas for the Serbia recreation — a welcome growth for a participant who has a official likelihood of sticking when the full-strength nationwide staff counterclaims in March for CONCACAF Nations League matches with Grenada and El Salvador.
If he desires to, that’s.
Zendejas has already performed twice for Mexico’s senior staff, later FIFA video games mentioned he should not have participated in as a result of he’d represented the US on the U-17 World Cup. Zendejas might nonetheless play for the trio after Wednesday’s match, although he’d must petition FIFA for a one-time change of allegiance. Nevertheless, if he fits up for the US within the CONCACAF Nations League in March, he’d be completely tied to the USMNT. Zendejas stopped wanting committing to both nation when talking to reporters on Tuesday, however having him concerned this month cannot harm.
“I am going to most likely concentrate on the long run as soon as we get to that standpoint,” Zendejas mentioned when requested by FOX Sports activities if he’d settle for an invite for the Nations League or the Gold Cup this summer time.
Touchdown Zendejas for good can be a coup. Already a longtime starter with Liga MX’s most prestigious membership, he has 13 targets in 40 appearances for Las Águilas, together with this magnificence final Saturday towards Puebla:
“Alex is an absolute baller,” mentioned US ahead Brandon Vázquez, one other member of that 2015 U-17 squad. “He is so shifty. His velocity and velocity are nice, and he is wonderful on the ball.”
And as his stats and that video show, Zendejas may rating. That is no small factor for a program that struggled mightily to complete in Qatar. The Individuals can by no means have sufficient objective threats. For that cause, Zendejas had been on the US workers’s radar since earlier than the World Cup, with then-coach Gregg Berhalter starting the recruiting course of final yr.
“It has been nice to see him,” Hudson mentioned of Zendejas, who will return to Membership America after Wednesday’s match. “I believe the gamers have actually loved him being right here, having him across the camp.
They have been impressed by his talent set, too. “He is actually dynamic left-footed participant,” Aaronson mentioned. “When he picks the ball up he at all times appears to be like like he will create one thing particular.
Ought to he finally select the US, Zendejas would change into the most recent twin citizen to select the US over one other nation since 2018. 4 — Sergiño Dest, Antonee Robinson, Yunus Musah and Jesús Ferreira — began the Individuals’ spherical of 16 loss to the Netherlands on the 2022 World Cup. Zendejas would additionally change into the second coveted Mexican-American attacker to rebuff the trio‘s advances in a bit greater than a yr, becoming a member of fellow El Paso, Texas native Ricardo Pepi. Vázquez, ahead Cade Cowell and fullback Jonathan Gomez are different gamers in camp that may nonetheless go well with up for both nation.
The chance to see Zendejas and different blue-chip children this month has been a welcome distraction for a program nonetheless reeling from the scandal involving Berhalter and the mother and father of winger Gio Reyna. Hudson, considered one of Berhalter’s assistants in Qatar, took over the staff till the unbiased investigation into the matter is full. Hudson admitted that the scenario has weighed on the senior gamers particularly. He addressed the difficulty with the squad earlier than camp began.
“I believe there is a sense of disappointment, as a result of everybody put a lot into [the World Cup],” Hudson mentioned Tuesday. “It is disappointment as a result of all the eye is gone away from all the nice work there, and has been shifted in one other route.
The temper began to alter when coaching started. “You come into camp, and it is like the surface world form of disappears for a 10-12 days,” Hudson added.
Now that the primary match of the 2026 World Cup cycle is right here, the emphasis is on the long run. And the current.
“I am simply making an attempt to benefit from the second, making an attempt to benefit from this chance,” mentioned Zendejas, who revealed that earlier than reporting he spoke to Pulisic, who wished him properly this week.
“It is enjoyable to reconnect with a bunch of gamers that I used to play with. We form of misplaced connection for a bit, however it’s good to see the blokes once more.”
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