Columbus Crew midfielder Justin Meram called up by Iraq national team
Columbus Crew midfielder Justin Meram has been called up by Iraq's national team for the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations, the Crew announced on Monday.
The international call-up is Meram's first of his career. He becomes the first Major League Soccer player to earn a call-up from Iraq.
Meram, 25, was born in the United States to two Iraqi parents. He grew up in Shelby Township, Mich. and played college soccer for the University of Michigan, but he holds dual citizenship.
The winger was drafted by the Crew with the 15th pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Meram started 19 regular season matches for Columbus this season, finishing with eight goals and four assists in 32 total appearances.
Iraq is set to play Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates in the 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations, which takes place this month in Saudi Arabia. Iraq is ranked No. 81 in FIFA's latest world rankings.
United Arab Emirates defeated Iraq 2-1 in the 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations final.
Columbus was eliminated from the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday, losing 7-3 to the New England Revolution on aggregate in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Crew finished third in the Eastern Conference this season with 52 points.
- Stanley Kay