The Gunners midfielder helped Tab Ramos' side to a comfortable 4-0 win over the host in their second game of the Under-20 World Cup.
Arsenal teenager Gedion Zelalem sent the growing excitement surrounding his future into overdrive on Tuesday morning in helping the US Under-20s to a 4-0 victory over New Zealand at the World Cup.
The Berlin-born midfielder, who was an 11th hour call-up to the squad after being cleared to switch international allegiances, set up Paul Arriola for the third goal and showcased his skill with rabona and nutmeg passes on what was just his first start for Tab Ramos’ side.
The win over the hosts was the USA’s second of the tournament after beating Myanmar 2-1 in their opening match and also sealed the team’s place in the knockout stages ahead of their third and final group game against Ukraine on June 5.
Whether Zelalem will start that game remains to be seen but, based on his most recent performance, it will be hard for head coach Ramos to leave him out of his line-up come the round of 16.
Aged just 18, the former German Under-17 international has made just two first-team cameos for Arsenal so far but US boss Jurgen Klinsmann has already declared that he is good enough for his senior squad and, judging from the Twitter-based reaction to his full Under-20 debut, others are now starting to agree.
Zelalem is an absolute pleasure to watch. Tremendous addition.— J.R. Eskilson (@JREskilson) June 2, 2015
Zelalem so calm on the ball. Great poise at just 18. Not sure U.S. fans will be so calm as the Zelalem hype train rolls on. #KidLooksLegit— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) June 2, 2015
I'm not saying Gedion Zelalem is the greatest soccer player ever. I'm also not saying he's not.— Usry (@RobUsry) June 2, 2015
My God. Zelalem just rabona’d that cross.— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) June 2, 2015
Zelalem putting on a show. Nutmeg, elastico, dizzying turns, & now a rabona. The hype train's going to take off. Once the conductor awakens.— Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) June 2, 2015
Yeah, so Zelalem just sent a perfect cross in with a rabona. New Zealand somehow clear the danger. The Arsenal kid is sublime with the ball— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) June 2, 2015
Zelalem is must watch every single touch. So good. We finally have a star.— #ForceTweeter# (@tclessard) June 2, 2015
Zelalem by himself had five moves better than the best NZ moment— Alex Olshansky (@atosoccer) June 2, 2015
Just as "don't freak out with negativity" was good advice after Game 1, "don't go overboard w/ hype" is my post-Game 2 advice. #USYNT— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) June 2, 2015