BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, July 19, 2011
With the prestigious Milk Cup fast approaching for the US U-18 team, one of the players who will be leading the American offense is Hertha Berlin forward Jerome Kiesewetter.
Kiesewetter, 18, has been a growing part of US youth teams the past year as he began to see playing time with the US U-20 national team. Back in May he was part of the US team that took on France's powerful U-20 team.
The US will send its U-18 team to the Milk Cup this year but the tournament will serve as an important springboard into the 2013 US U-20 cycle where Kiesewetter is likely to be a key contributor. Kiesewetter is looking forward to heading to Northern Ireland next week as the US team will look to defend its Milk Cup title from 2010.
"I am very excited to go," Kiesewetter told YA from Berlin. "I always am. I think we are a great team with good players and spirit. Our ambition should be to win every game and it doesn't matter who our opponents are. That's why I absoulutly think we are able to win every game and of course this tournament."
When Kiesewetter played with the US team in France back in May, he was part of a US U-20 team that showed glimpses of what lies ahead for US Soccer. Players like Kiesewetter, Sean Cunningham, Luis Gil, and Danny Potts will be part of the next U-20 cycle while players like Terrence Boyd, Josh Gatt, and Conor Doyle are too old for the next U-20 cycle but could factor into the Olympic team.
The trip to France gave Kieswetter a lot of optimism for US Soccer and he enjoyed playing under former US national team midfielder Tab Ramos who was the US coach in those games and is a candidate to be the next U-20 coach for the 2013 cycle.
"I had some very good experience there," Kiesewetter recalled. "The games were good and it was great to be there as a young player. I learned a lot. I think our U-20 team is very good. We have a lot of very talented players and qualities. I think [Tab Ramos] is a great coach. He always pushes us to the maximum and tries to help the players step forward."
Kiesewetter is part of a growing number of US players who were born in Germany. Like US national team players Jermaine Jones and Timothy Chandler, Kiesewetter's American citizenship stems from an American father who served in the United States military and was stationed in Germany.
Kiesewetter was born in Berlin but his connections to the United States are strong. He and his family make trips to the US once a year to visit friends and he has always felt part of the American culture despite living in Germany. This has lead to his decision to want to play for the United States internationally over the country of his birth.
"No it was easy because my mother family and friends always supported me in my decision," Kiesewetter said of the decision to play for the US over Germany. "They still do and cheer for the US. I was born raised and lived in an American way and that's how I got to know the language and spirit. I pretty much felt like an American and thought that this is absolutely the right decision."
Kiesewetter's background and career path is very similar to that of his best friend John Anthony Brooks who was also born in Germany to the son of an American serviceman. Brooks is already signed to Hertha's first team and is one of the top prospects for both Hertha and US Soccer.
Kiesewetter says that it has been a goal for both him and Brooks to represent the United States internationally and play for the same club. The two played for the US U-20 national team together back in May and both figure to be key players for the 2013 US U-20 team and perhaps the 2012 Olympic team.
"I love to play with him this was one of our most important [goals] we wanted to achieve," Kiesewetter said of playing with Brooks. "We've known each other since kindergarten so for us it's just awesome to play with my ‘brother' for the same national team."
As for this year, Kieswetter looks to figure to be part of both Hertha Berlin's U-23 and U-19 teams. He is optimistic that he can continue to climb upward within the organization that has just been promoted to the Bundesliga. He knows that as an 18 year old player, the path ahead is a long one but he is confident in his own abilities to succeed at the sport's highest level.
"I think we can win a lot this year we are a good team with the right attitude and spirit," Kiesewetter concluded. "I had some games for the U-23 team. I just have to keep going and adjust myself to the team in every practice and game I have -whether it's the U-19, U-23 or the first team. I am on the [right path] but until I'm there, it will be a hard and long way. It's just up to me."