Gedion Zelalem cleared to play for U.S.; added to U-20 World Cup roster
At long last, Arsenal's Gedion Zelalem has been cleared to play for the United States by FIFA, soccer's international governing body.
U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati announced the news in a tweet on Wednesday night, and the organization followed it up by announcing the finalized roster for this year's Under-20 World Cup–with Zelalem officially listed among the midfielders.
The clearance marks the end of a protracted back-and-forth game over the international future of the 18-year-old Zelalem, who is considered to be one of the best young prospects at Arsenal. Zelalem was born to Ethiopian parents in Germany before emigrating to the United States in 2006, where he played for several Washington D.C.-area clubs before Arsenal invited him to join its academy in 2013.
Technically that would have made Zelalem eligible to compete for Ethiopia, Germany, or the United States. However, Zelalem officially became a U.S. citizen last year, and SI.com's Grant Wahl reported in January that the player would join the U.S. youth setup in the spring.
The final indicator came in coach Tab Ramos' early release of the U-20 World Cup roster, which notably left one open spot for Zelalem. Despite a late play by Germany to nab the midfielder, Zelalem is now officially available for selection by the U.S.