In the wake of the Soccer Mom Scandal that continues to be a significant supply of embarrassment, this was a victory U.S. Soccer desperately wanted.
Alejandro Zendejas was in camp with the lads’s nationwide group this week in Los Angeles.
Zendejas, 24, is a star.
If he isn’t probably the greatest gamers in North America, he’s actually one of the well-known, a signature participant on considered one of Mexico’s signature groups, Club América.
A shifty left-footed attacker courted each by the nation of his delivery and the nation by which he was raised, Zendejas had beforehand performed two video games for Mexico whereas technically nonetheless a U.S. participant below FIFA guidelines.
Expected to make his U.S. senior nationwide group debut Wednesday evening in opposition to Serbia at just lately renamed BMO Stadium, Zendejas was instantly an emblem of the Mexican federation’s dysfunction.
Then he opened his mouth, revealing his participation within the United States’ January camp wasn’t essentially indicative of his long-term plans.
Speaking after the group’s coaching session Tuesday, Zendejas was noncommittal about his worldwide future past the upcoming match.
“I’m enjoying the moment, taking the opportunity that I have this week,” he stated. “I have my mind focused on tomorrow’s game.”
He repeated the phrase time and again, in English and in Spanish.
He didn’t say his future was with Mexico, however he didn’t say it wasn’t both.
And who might blame him?
Mexico was eradicated within the group stage of the World Cup and its federation is a multitude, however the U.S. group has its personal issues.
Like the Mexicans, the Americans don’t have a coach and so they don’t have path.
How can Zendejas commit his future to a program that doesn’t know the place it’s headed?
The Mexican-born and Texas-raised Zendejas is taken into account by FIFA to be a U.S. participant as a result of he represented the nation on the U-17 World Cup in 2015.
Though Zendejas turned skilled with FC Dallas of Major League Soccer, he grew to become established in Mexico’s Liga MX. He performed for Mexico on the U-23 and senior ranges however did so with out submitting the mandatory paperwork, leading to forfeits and fines for El Tri.
Ironically, as a result of he by no means filed for a one-time change in affiliation to play for Mexico, he stays eligible to take action so long as he doesn’t play in an official match. The United States’ recreation in opposition to Serbia is an exhibition and subsequently gained’t depend.
Asked whether or not he can be open to taking part in in Nations League and Gold Cup video games later this yr that may completely tie him to the U.S., Zendejas replied: “Hopefully, tomorrow will be a great game for the whole team. Hopefully, get that win, and then on a personal level, I hope it’s a great game for me, and then I’ll probably focus on the future once we get to that standpoint again.”
To repeat: Who might blame him?
Interim coach Anthony Hudson stated Zendejas’ recruitment was initiated final yr by Gregg Berhalter, who coached the United States on the World Cup.
However, Berhalter most likely gained’t return as coach, as his resolution to sit down Giovanni Reyna resulted in a Game of Thrones-like feud with Reyna’s dad and mom that has wrecked this system.
And even when Berhalter returns, does Zendejas wish to play for a similar bozo who benched a world-class expertise in Reyna in favor of a glorified employee bee like Tim Weah?
What if the United States miraculously lands Jose Mourinho or another overseas pragmatist who values an attacker’s defensive work charge over creativity?
As it stands, the diminutive Zendejas would already be competing for taking part in time with a gaggle of wingers that features Reyna, Weah and Christian Pulisic, his former youth nationwide group roommate.
Say Zendejas beats out Reyna for a spot within the group’s beginning 11. Who is to say Reyna’s dad and mom gained’t attempt to sabotage him the best way they did Berhalter?
In this case, Zendejas would possibly as properly take a wait-and-see strategy. He has just one profession. He ought to know the place he’s taking his subsequent step.
This alone is an indictment on American soccer tradition, as Zendejas’ resolution ought to be as simple as a tap-in from contained in the six-yard field.
The U.S.-Mexico rivalry is cyclical, dominated by one group over a sure interval, managed by the opposite within the subsequent. The Americans are actually on high. They have the higher expertise.
That benefit has been diminished by the occasions of the final couple of months.
Mexican soccer could be an energetic dumpster hearth, however the United States has to exhibit its self-destructive tendencies gained’t land it in the identical place.