On Friday night, three top United States prospects faced off in the first matchday of the Barclay's U-21 Premier League season. Emerson Hyndman and Luca De La Torre of Fulham took on Gedion Zelalem and Arsenal to kick the season off.
Hyndman and Zelalem were the starting midfield pairing in four of the USA's five matches in the U-20 World Cup during the summer. Meanwhile, De La Torre is expected to be named to the U-17 World Cup roster later this year.
With the match scoreless late on, Zelalem combined with a couple of teammates for a lovely flowing move through the heart of the Fulham defense. The talented 18-year-old finished off the sequence with a delicate first touch in the box and a clinical finish to give Arsenal the win.
Watching the Arsenal first team has influenced his ability to play quick, one-touch soccer he told Arsenal.com.
"My goal came because I watch the first team a lot and they like to play quick one-twos on the edge of the box. Us youth-team players aspire to be like them so we try to play like them. It worked against Fulham and hopefully the fans enjoyed the goal."
The silky smooth midfielder showcased his talents to American soccer fans this past June and moments like these have them wanting to see more. Zelalem is expected to help the U.S. U-23's attempt to qualify for the Olympics in October.
As far as his club situation is concerned, in May there was talk of a possible loan. Those talks have since quieted as he looks set to spend at least the next four months with the Arsenal youth teams. Perhaps more conversations about a loan elsewhere will pop back up come January.
One more season in the Arsenal setup is not the worst thing in the world for any young player. But there will come a time when he'll have to spread his wings and attempt to fly. Whether that's at Arsenal or somewhere else, that remains to be seen.