US Under-20 boss Tam Ramos hails Arsenal teenager Gedion Zelalem after World Cup performance

Gedion Zelalem

The midfielder made his first start for the States in a 4-0 win over Group A opponents and tournament hosts New Zealand.

US Under-20 head coach Tab Ramos has hailed Gedion Zelalem following the Arsenal teenager’s performance in their 4-0 World Cup win over New Zealand.

Ramos was speaking to US Soccer after a Rubio Rubin brace and goals from skipper Emerson Hyndman and Paul Arriola saw his side thrash the tournament hosts on Tuesday to seal a place in the last 16 ahead of their third and final group game against Ukraine.

While failing to get on the scoresheet, Zelalem also had a starring role in the rout, as he set up Arriola for the third with a smart through ball and showcased his skill with rabona and nutmeg passes which set social media ablaze.

The Berlin-born midfielder, who was a last-minute call-up to the squad after being cleared to switch international allegiances, was making just his first start for the Under-20s after a 45-minute outing in the 2-1 opening win over Myanmar, but Ramos’ post-match comments suggest that he now has a spot in the line-up nailed down.

“I think Gedion did a great job,” said the former US international. “He’s born in ’97, he’s a younger player and we’re not afraid to put him in because he wants the ball.

“I tell the players on the team that I always want to have guys on the field who want the ball. And I think he showed himself well. As you can see he plays very comfortably in that position.

“He was not afraid and I think at times he put the team on his shoulders and he played like an older player. So I’m excited about his future with us, but it’s one game. We’ll take it one game at a time with him.”

Zelalem, who lived in the States between 2006 and 2013, has been hailed as the USA’s future No. 10 ever since news emerged that he was keen on committing, with senior boss Jurgen Klinsmann even labelling him good enough to walk straight into the full squad.

Aged 18, the former German Under-17 international has made just two first-team appearances for Arsenal so far but, after his latest outing, it is clear to see how he has garnered comparisons to ex-Gunners skipper Cesc Fabregas.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch