Yunus Musah, a 17-year-old, might make his debut for the U.S. men’s national team this week. The midfielder is on the U.S. squad for the team’s friendly matches with Wales and Panama.
Musah, who has already broken into Valencia’s starting lineup in Spain’s La Liga, is an interesting case. While he may don the Stars and Stripes this week, he may well end up playing internationally for another country.
Musah’s parents are Ghanaian. He was born in New York City while his mom was on vacation; he grew up in Italy; he moved to London at a young age to join Arsenal’s academy. He’s captained England’s under-18 team. Ask the BBC, and they’ll tell you that he’s the first Brit to play for Valencia, but he remains eligible for the U.S., Italy, and Ghana as well. Only a determined recruiting effort by the U.S. saw him accept this call-up.
Even if Musah plays both games this week, he won’t be “cap-tied” to any country until he plays in an official senior competition, not just a friendly match. Maybe he thinks playing for the U.S. offers him more playing time. Maybe it’s just a warning shot to England, that the country had better get serious about including him in senior squads soon. Either way, he’s an example of how something like national identity, which seems so immutable, can be so fluid when it comes to soccer.
• Just like the UEFA Champions League did last summer, the CONCACAF Champions League will finish in a bubble after the season concludes, at a yet-to-be-determined location in the U.S. NYCFC, Atlanta and Montreal all trail after the first legs of their quarterfinals, while LAFC’s quarterfinal will now be a single-legged affair. Playing this tournament at the end of the season might give MLS teams a better chance to play well than the usual setup, where they play at the beginning of the year.
• The NWSL released the protected lists for Thursday’s expansion draft, in which Racing Louisville will select up to two players from every other NWSL team. Louisville also has to decide whether it wants to use allocation money to select one of the national team players available, or reserve all that money to try to sign its top draft pick, likely to be Stanford standout Catarina Macario.
Game of the weekend
MLS: New England at Philadelphia, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Ch. 5. In 10 years, Philadelphia has never lifted a trophy. That could change Sunday. A win would give the Union the Supporters’ Shield as the regular-season winner in this strange year, assuming Toronto can’t make up a huge deficit in goal difference.
Writer Jon Marthaler gives you a recap of recent events and previews the week ahead.