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


In six seasons in MLS, Julian Gressel made a strong case for a call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team at some point. The problem was that he was not yet a US citizen.

That part changed in November, and as the U.S. program moves into a new World Cup cycle, Gressel has been invited to the first training camp of the year, three people familiar with the matter said Friday.

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

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The European players who formed the core of the team that advanced to the last 16 in Qatar last month will not be available as the camp and matches fall outside FIFA’s international window. MLS teams opened training camps last week ahead of the Feb. 25 season openers.

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The USA Winter Camp is an annual tradition that allows the coaching staff to evaluate players who might not otherwise be considered when the full team is available. In Gressel’s case, this is the first time he has been eligible for an invitation.

The German-born starred at Providence College and excelled with Atlanta United and DC United before moving to the Vancouver Whitecaps last summer. Through the marriage concluded in 2018, the American Gressel became entitled to citizenship.

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Gressel has been among the best right-sided forwards in MLS in his career. He has played as a forward, fullback and wingback, scoring 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. Last season, he split his time between DC and Vancouver and had two goals and nine assists in 30 games.

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

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Gressel is expected to be among several fresh faces in the U.S. camp. The other choice, according to two people close to the situation, is Sam Rogers, a 23-year-old defender from Norway’s Rosenborg. (Like MLS, the Norwegian league does not play during the winter months.)

Assistant coach Anthony Hudson will oversee the camp while USSF continues to evaluate the program and consider keeping Gregg Berhalter, whose coaching contract expired Dec. 31. The sport’s domestic governing body is also awaiting the results of an independent investigation into the 1991 incident in which Berhalter admitted to kicking his future wife during an argument when they were college freshmen.


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