New U.S. citizen Julian Gressel earns first national team call-up

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Over the course of six MLS seasons, Julian Gressel made a strong case that he would one day receive a call-up to the US men’s national soccer team. The problem was that he was not yet a US citizen.

That changed in November, and with the U.S. program entering a new World Cup cycle, Gressel was invited to the first training camp of the year, three people familiar with the matter said Friday.

The U.S. Soccer Federation is scheduled to name the MLS roster on Wednesday and open camp on Jan. 21 in Carson, California. In their first matches since the World Cup, the Americans will play Serbia on January 25 in Los Angeles and Colombia. 28 in Carson.

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The Europe-based players who formed the core of the squad that reached the last 16 in Qatar last month are not available because the camp and matches are outside FIFA’s international window. MLS teams opened training camps last week ahead of the season opener on February 25.

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USA Winter Camp is an annual tradition that allows the coaching staff to evaluate players who would otherwise likely be overlooked when the full roster becomes available. For Gressel, this is the first time he has been eligible for an invitation.

The German played at Providence College and excelled with Atlanta United and DC United before moving to the Vancouver Whitecaps last summer. From 2018, Gressel’s marriage to an American became eligible for citizenship.

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In his career, Gressel has been among the best right wing forwards in MLS. He has operated as a forward, fullback and fullback, recording 21 goals and 60 assists. In 2017, he was voted MLS Rookie of the Year. Two years ago, Gressel’s 13 assists for United were third in MLS. Splitting time between DC and Vancouver last season, he had two goals and nine assists in 30 games.

However, it is unclear whether he has a long-term future with the US program. At 29, he is much older than almost all players receiving their first international call-ups.

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Gressel is expected to be among several new faces in the US camp. Another selection, according to two people close to the situation, is 23-year-old Norwegian club Rosenborg defender Sam Rodgers. (Like MLS, the Norwegian league does not play during the winter months.)

Assistant coach Anthony Hudson is overseeing the camp as USSF continues to evaluate the program and consider whether to retain Greg Berhalter, whose contract to coach the team expired Dec. 31. The sport’s local governing body is also awaiting the results of an independent investigation into the 1991 case. an incident in which Berhalter admitted to kicking his future wife during an argument when they were freshmen in college.


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