You Can’t Spell Musah Without USA18-Year-Old Midfielder Yunus Musah Officially Commits to USMNT Program and Joins Talented Young Generation
Sometimes the best way to make a difficult decision is to wait for the moment your heart speaks to you. It’s then that the decision becomes clear, as if it was no choice at all. Of course, you never know when that moment will come, and often it’s in the most unexpected of times. For example, when you’re watching Netflix.
“The moment I decided to play for the United States came when my heart told that this was the country I wanted to represent and the best place for me to play was with the U.S. players, so I went with it,” said 18-year-old midfielder Yunus Musah. “I was probably watching Netflix. Thoughts were just coming into my head because I was still trying to make my decision. My heart told me to make this choice and I stuck with it.”
And with that, Musah called USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter to tell him that he was officially committed to representing the United States, becoming the latest player with international options to pledge allegiance to the program.
“First of all, I think it makes sense to represent the country I was born in. In the end, I think it was pretty clear for me to decide to play for the United States. The project that we have going now and for the future is so exciting, and it’s a great pleasure to be able to be a part of that. I can’t wait to get started.”
Born in New York City, the dynamic and promising 18-year-old plies his trade at Valencia in Spain’s top division, one of the best leagues in the world that features storied teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid. It also happens to be a club where USMNT assistant coach Nico Estevez spent eight years working in the Academy. A phone call was made, and a journey began.
“We have a very good relationship with Valencia due to Nico Estevez being a former coach there,” Berhalter said. “When Yunus came into their program, we were alerted that he was there. From then, we began to communicate with him and support him from afar. I’ve had numerous conversations with Yunus and his family about our project and how he can fit into the whole thing. Nico was really instrumental in keeping the day-to-day relationship. It was a group effort, and we’re excited to have Yunus committed to the United States.”
Born to Ghanaian parents in the United States, and having lived in both Italy and England, Musah is actually eligible to represent all four countries. Having appeared multiple times for England’s youth national teams, he was first invited into a USMNT camp last November for the matches against Wales and Panama. The goal was simple: to bring him into the USMNT environment and see if it was a place where he felt he belonged. After playing in the two matches, his answer was unequivocal.
“When I came back from the camp I was just so happy,” he said. “Everyone was so welcoming. I enjoyed it on and off the pitch – the players and staff were amazing.”
Clearly, the feeling was mutual.
“When the group first met him, we were immediately drawn to his personality and what a great person he is,” Berhalter added. “When people come into our environment and they see the type of atmosphere and the type of people involved, it goes a long way. The players ability to create this environment really speaks for itself. In the end, that’s what helps get a lot of these players.”
From there, Yunus continued to receive support, not only from the coaches but the legions of USMNT fans who followed his progress at Valencia. He was very grateful – and not the only one who noticed.
“After the last camp, a lot of people already thought of me as a USA player,” he said. “Even on FIFA, they changed my flag to USA. The U.S. supporters have been really warm and made me feel wanted and appreciated. They gave me huge support, even when I’m with my club. I love seeing all their comments on Instagram – especially all the flags.”
Yunus also saw up close the promising array of talent that includes a record number of U.S. players competing in the Champions League and playing in the biggest clubs in Europe. Even more auspicious is the relative age of the group and the massive potential that lies ahead.
“It’s exciting with such a young squad,” said Musah. “There’s going to be so many learning opportunities. It’s nice to compete against so many great players for spots. I’m sure we’re going to be able to do great things.”
With ability also comes expectations, and those are certainly on the rise for a group looking to put the USMNT on the right path with qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the horizon. It’s a challenge that Musah embraces.
“For me, representing the United States means representing a huge country with lots of great people. I really love it, and I think I’m representing all of that and that makes me happy. I don’t feel pressure, it just makes me want to play even more.
He’s already taken the first step. The fans are now on the clock to come up with the perfect chant. After all, you can’t spell Musah without USA.