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Jonathan Amon on earning his first USMNT call-up: "I can't stop smiling"

Jonathan Amon has taken the Danish Superliga by storm with his ability to take on defenders. Now on the U.S. national team for the first time, Amon will look to make a splash at the international stage.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
October 02, 2018
6:30 PM
BACK IN AUGUST, current Brondby manager and former Stuttgart and RB Leipzig manager ,Alexander Zorniger, was interviewed on television by a pair of local Danish football pundits. They asked the German a simple question: if he could choose one player on FC Nordsjaelland to be on his team, who would it be?

His answer was simple.

“I like Amon, very much,” Zorniger said.

“I would like him too,” one of the commentators replied. “Why do you like him?”

“He has the speed,” Zorniger answered. “He definitely has the speed.”

Over the past 12 months, Amon, a left winger, has made quite a name for himself in Denmark despite missing time on two separate occasions due to injuries. Last season he clearly showcased glimpses of very high ceiling with his ability to simply blow past defenders in 1v1 situations.

In 2018/2019, he is finally healthy and is now showcasing something even more important: consistency. In nearly every game Amon is playing, he is either scoring, assisting, or helping to create plays that result in dangerous chances.

Across all competitions this year in the Danish Superliga, the Danish Cup, or the Europa League, Amon has four goals and an assist in nine appearances over 517 minutes. Last season he two goals and three assists in 565 minutes.

On Monday, Amon arrived at Nordsjaelland’s stadium, the Right to Dream Park, ahead of its game that night against SønderjyskE. He expected it to a typical home game but this time his manager, Kasper Hjulmand, had a surprise for him before kickoff: the news that Amon was called up to the U.S. national team for the first time.

“Last week I got a call from the coach that I was in the preliminary squad,” Amon told ASN from Denmark. “I was happy about that. Kasper told me today that I was in squad. I was really excited. I was a little surprised, but excited. I can't stop smiling.”

After receiving the good news, Amon went out and put on another impressive performance. His pass essentially created the first goal with an impressive play into the box. Then in the second half, he drew cheers from the crowd when he nutmegged a defender which resulted in a foul.

Amon credits a lot of his growth as a player to the environment at Nordsjaelland. His move to Denmark was unusual. While in Charleston, he was recruited by a Danish scout to attend the Kies School, a boarding school in Copenhagen. It was there he was discovered by Nordsjaelland and began to play for its youth teams – often with the club taking steps to hide him out of sight from big clubs until he turned 18 when he could officially sign.

But Nordsjaelland is unique. With an average age of just 21.3 years old, it is the youngest top flight team in all of Europe. The club prioritizes development and Amon believes it is paying dividends.

“They teach you a lot of technical and tactical stuff with my team - we focus on positioning, how to play, when to play one-touch, when to dribble,” Amon explained. “We focus on that so much and we have a very young team. I've learned a lot here…Nordsjaelland has always been good. Everyone knows how good they are and everyone has confidence. Being so young you have to confidence to play with the older guys.”

Ever since the United States national team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup last October, interim head coach Dave Sarachan has decided to bring in a wave of young players who he believes have a long future with the team. Among the notable players to have debuted under his watch are Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Tim Weah, Antonee Robinson, Zack Steffen, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Josh Sargent.

While Sarachan has brought in a lot of new players, the team still lacks depth at the wing position and attackers that can take defenders. With that, Sarachan believes Amon can help fill that void.

“Jonathan is a player we have been following for a bit,” Sarachan said. “Obviously he is a starter for his club where he is getting full minutes, producing goals and contributing a lot of value in the attack. He has a dynamic presence, so he’s a guy I wanted to see up close and get to know. With the combination of his speed and ability to [run] at defenders in the final third, he’s someone that has shown to have a certain skillset that we have been missing. He’s young, but I think it’s a good time to get to know him.”

The United States national team might not be the only time where Amon will be representing his country. United States U-20 national team head coach Tab Ramos also has big plans for Amon as his team attempts to qualify for the U-20 World Cup next year in Poland.

While clubs are not required to release players for U-20 qualifying in November, there is little doubt Ramos will hope he can add Amon to the team – at least for the qualifying portion which falls international window.

“Amon should be one of our core players,” Ramos said of Amon. “He has the special ability to get by defenders 1v1 and create danger in the final third from a wide position. There aren’t many of those players around.”

Back in January, Ramos called Amon up to the U-20 team for the Youth Summit which featured all of the U.S. youth national teams. For Amon it was his first involvement with the United States since playing with the U-14 team before he moved to Denmark.

“[The youth summit] was a good experience. It was my first time with that U-20 team. It was a good group of guys. It was a really good training camp. It was a very good quality. All of the guys were really good.

“Every time I hear about the coaches talking about me, I am happy and proud,” he added about the U-20 team. “But honestly, I am just focused on my club team right now but it has been in the back of my head. I have been thinking about it a little. Of course I know about [U-20 qualifying], it's a big tournament. If I get called up to it, it would be nice.”

But there is still plenty of soccer between now and November. Now in sixth place, Nordsjaelland could move as high as third with a win on Sunday over Hobro.

Following that, Amon will return to the United States for his first national team camp in Florida. He is uncertain of what to expect and the only two players he knows are Tyler Adams and Tim Weah – who he played with on the U-14 team but has not spoken to since.

That doesn’t diminish his excitement and high hopes for what the camp will bring.

“I obviously expect that there will be some really good players and I have been watching some of the games,” Amon said. “I expect a high quality.”

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