Within the wake of the Soccer Mother 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’s not probably the greatest gamers in North America, he’s definitely some of the well-known, a signature participant on one in every of Mexico’s signature groups, Membership América.
A shifty left-footed attacker courted each by the nation of his start and the nation through which he was raised, Zendejas had beforehand performed two video games for Mexico whereas technically nonetheless a U.S. participant below FIFA guidelines.
Anticipated to make his U.S. senior nationwide group debut Wednesday night time towards Serbia at just lately renamed BMO Stadium, Zendejas was all of the sudden an emblem of the Mexican federation’s dysfunction.
Then he opened his mouth, revealing his participation in the USA’ January camp wasn’t essentially indicative of his long-term plans.
Talking after the group’s coaching session Tuesday, Zendejas was noncommittal about his worldwide future past the upcoming match.
“I’m having fun with the second, taking the chance that I’ve this week,” he stated. “I’ve my thoughts targeted on tomorrow’s sport.”
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 may 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.
Just like the Mexicans, the Individuals don’t have a coach they usually 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.
Although Zendejas turned skilled with FC Dallas of Main League Soccer, he turned established in Mexico’s Liga MX. He performed for Mexico on the U-23 and senior ranges however did so with out submitting the required paperwork, leading to forfeits and fines for El Tri.
Mockingly, as a result of he by no means filed for a one-time swap in affiliation to play for Mexico, he stays eligible to take action so long as he doesn’t play in an official match. The US’ sport towards Serbia is an exhibition and subsequently received’t rely.
Requested whether or not he can be open to taking part in in Nations League and Gold Cup video games later this 12 months that will completely tie him to the U.S., Zendejas replied: “Hopefully, tomorrow will likely be an excellent sport for the entire group. Hopefully, get that win, after which on a private degree, I hope it’s an excellent sport for me, after which I’ll in all probability give attention to the long run as soon as we get to that standpoint once more.”
To repeat: Who may blame him?
Interim coach Anthony Hudson stated Zendejas’ recruitment was initiated final 12 months by Gregg Berhalter, who coached the USA on the World Cup.
Nevertheless, Berhalter in all probability received’t return as coach, as his determination to take a seat Gio Reyna resulted in a “Sport of Thrones”-like feud with Reyna’s mother and father that has wrecked this system.
And even when Berhalter returns, does Zendejas need 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 USA miraculously lands Jose Mourinho or another international pragmatist who values an attacker’s defensive work price over creativity?
Because it stands, the diminutive Zendejas would already be competing for enjoying 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’s to say Reyna’s mother and father received’t attempt to sabotage him the way in which they did Berhalter?
On 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’ determination needs 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 Individuals are actually on prime. They’ve the higher expertise.
That benefit has been diminished by the occasions of the final couple of months.
Mexican soccer could be an lively dumpster hearth, however the USA has to display its self-destructive tendencies received’t land it in the identical place.