Julian Gressel eager to make mark after unusual “long journey” to USMNT 

Paxton Pomykal is six years younger than Julian Gressel, and has played 8,165 fewer minutes and 82 fewer MLS regular season games.

The FC Dallas midfielder has the United States national team under his belt, but he still can’t resist poking fun at his former team-mate as they sit on the sidelines. fielding questions from the media on the first day of the USMNT’s January camp.

“The vibes are good. We’ve got two good games ahead of us this week, an opportunity for a lot of guys who don’t have caps — like this guy here,” Paxton said with a smile to Gressel Saturday afternoon at Dignity. Health Sports Park.

Gressel smiled too, fully aware of his unique position. The Vancouver Whitecaps wingback turned 29 last month, making him the third oldest player in camp behind World Cup veterans Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman, and is a year older than the average January camper.

All that being said, he got here as quickly as he could.

“Obviously, it’s not possible before because of the citizenship I have now, in the end,” said the German-born veteran, who completed a long road to full American citizenship. Meet in November. “For me, this is an exciting week to be here. I’m trying to do my best this week and put my best foot forward and see everyone. It gives me a chance to find out, and whatever happens in the future, I’ll do that and then I’ll worry about it later.

The USMNT is late to the party

As those words indicate, Gressel plans to stick with it and think about every step that brought him here. The upcoming MLS season will be his seventh, and he started getting USMNT buzz in 2017, when he notched five goals and nine assists en route to his Rookie of the Year campaign during Atlanta United’s inaugural season. The dawn of his American identity goes back a little.

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“How tall are you? It’s been a long journey and it’s normal, I think,” Gressel laughs when asked to reflect on his journey to this point.

He first visited America as an exchange student in high school, and when his football career back home in Germany didn’t take off the way he wanted – Gressel used time in school settings in Greuther Fürth and Quelle Fürth and in elementary school. sides FC Eintracht Bamberg and TSV Neustadt/Aisch – he returned to try college football with Providence College. Not only did he shine at the NCAA level, but he met his future wife Casey in Rhode Island, and their marriage earned him a U.S. license to play. to him when called for the USMNT call.

In fact he has continued to be productive on the pitch – he is now up to 21g/60 assists in 184 regular season games, with another 2g/2a and the 2018 MLS Cup win to his credit playoff resume – stay on the radar of the national team later. all this time, between three different companies with different characteristics and lists to support him, which is another amazing metric of his endurance and persistence.

“It’s been a long journey, a journey I’ve enjoyed since I came to America,” Gressel said on Saturday. “I love the country and that’s why I’m so excited to be able to represent the U.S. on the field in these next two games. My family back home, they’re obviously all German. Germany – they are very happy.

“I have phone calls, I have a very good conversation with my grandfather, for example, he is a great football player, of course he is a big fan of mine. I can hear his pride in his voice and his happiness I worked hard to get this moment.

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His familiarity has been around for a long time, although that doesn’t guarantee a shot with the USMNT.

“Of course, a lot has happened, even after the World Cup, that’s why it’s not clear what this camp will be like, so I don’t know,” said Gressel. “Then it was really amazing to find out I was on the first list, and then Anthony Hudson called me and asked me if I wanted to be in and we had a really good conversation at first.”

Honored above all for his saves from wide areas and set pieces, Gressel is listed as a defender in this January list, although he hopes to have it’s to look at a wide range of areas. He is expected to get most of his reps behind the 4-3-3 system that interim coach Anthony Hudson is expected to bring in for Gregg Berhalter while the team works to a comprehensive review of the program with an independent investigation into the events. surrounding the last World Cup.

With only a handful of veterans from the Qatar tour called up this month, that measure of continuity will provide an important level of stability that Gressel and other newcomers will be able to test. to build their case before the entire window at the end of March. the Yanks will meet Grenada and El Salvador in Concacaf Nations League play.

“Well, I think the format of the game is very clear, I don’t think it will change much from what we saw in the World Cup,” said Gressel. “For us players who are coming, obviously, we all watched the games – we didn’t just watch with half an eye, I think we watched well. And so we know the roles that we need we will participate, in terms of positions and different things. And I think in the coming days we will talk in depth with the coaching staff and we will know how many minutes we will play and all kinds of things because it’s preseason.

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In the group for 2026?

The USMNT program is in limbo, entering a painful state of transition both on and off the field. The next World Cup is three and a half years away, and as a team, the U.S. doesn’t have to play enough games to qualify, which means fewer games. more competitive than usual. They have just moved into the knockout rounds of Qatar ’22 with one of the youngest teams in the world, and the competition for places will increase in the build-up to a much-anticipated tournament in the North American region. .

Gressel was 32 years old at the time. Everything is very different, maybe not. He didn’t need to think too much now. Getting the most out of every opportunity in these upcoming training sessions and friends vs. Serbia (Jan. 25) and Colombia (Jan. 28) are more interesting, but also exciting.

“No matter what happens in the future, I think you can show that you want to be part of the team moving forward, in any way. Again, it’s a great opportunity. it,” he said.

“Now to be a part of it and to be able to show that on the field is also something special, I think. It’s something we can build on. And I think everyone knows that coming as a player in the sense of normality, and that’s the one at the top. That’s where the US is and that’s where we’re trying to go, obviously, in the three and the half a year. That’s the beginning.


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