Jurgen Klinsmann eyes two more dual-nationals in Akindele, Morales
Jurgen Klinsmann has his eye on two more dual-national recruits in the U.S. men's national team January camp.
Reigning MLS Rookie of the Year and Canadian-American Tesho Akindele and Mexican-American Julio Morales, both forwards, are the latest players in Klinsmann's crosshairs, with the U.S. manager and technical director inviting both to Carson, California, for the annual winter camp. The Canadian-born Akindele scored seven goals and had three assists in his first season with FC Dallas after being a surprise early pick out of the Colorado School of Mines in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
Morales, meanwhile, had a stint with Chivas USA in 2013, scoring twice while on loan from Chivas Guadalajara. Born in Glendale, California, he most recently played with Tepic in Mexico's second division.
Should they opt to represent the USA, they would need to secure FIFA clearance. As a result, they're not eligible to play for the USA in next week's friendly in Chile. No matter, Klinsmann is giving them a taste of U.S. camp, much in the same way he did with Julian Green before securing the touted German-American's allegiance last spring.
"The goal is with players like [Akindele] or with Julio Morales or other ones that have come in before is that they get a feeling for our environment, that they get a feeling for their teammates, how things are run with the U.S. program and then down the road they make their decision together with their family," Klinsmann said in video released by U.S. Soccer. "They have to go the direction they feel most comfortable with."
Akindele's pending international decision is the more anticipated of the two given that the 22-year-old turned down Canada's call-up in November. He previously played for Canada on the U-17 level. While Morales represented Mexico at the 2013 U-20 World Cup, his place on Klinsmann's radar was more of a surprise given his lack of club exploits.
"I think so far [Akindele]'s having a blast. He's doing fine, he's looking sharp," Klinsmann said. "Obviously he can't travel with us to Chile nor can Julio, because they need now the [FIFA] one-time switch*. We are not pressuring that. We are not pushing that. We said, 'Take all the time in the world, because once you make that decision, it's a lifetime decision.'
[*Editor's note: U.S. Soccer has clarified that Klinsmann misspoke and that while Akindele still needs to be cleared by FIFA to play for the USA, he does not need to file for a one-time switch. He never played for Canada in an official youth competition.]
"I think we are doing well in that process, because we are honest. We leave it up to the players and their families to make their decision. We tell them how we run things, how we organize it, we're also honest in terms of where he is in the whole player pool. We have a lot of competition. And then hopefully Tesho and Julio will go with us, but no matter what they decide they have to make it right for themselves."
Among the dual-nationals who have committed to the USA since Klinsmann became manager in 2011 are Green, Fabian Johnson, John Anthony Brooks, Terrence Boyd, Daniel Williams and Aron Johannsson. Arsenal prospect Gedion Zelalem recently became a U.S. citizen and has begun the process to have FIFA clear him to join the U.S. men's national team.