The Seattle Sounders FC announced today that the Democratic Republic of Congo National Team has called in midfielder Steve Zakuani for a friendly versus Mali on Wednesday night near Paris.
Zakuani, 22, leaves on Sunday. This is his first international call in. He scored ten goals during the MLS regular season, and added one goal in the playoffs.
"Being selected to represent the DR Congo National Team is the highest honor I've received in my young career," said Zakuani. "I am looking forward to testing myself at the international level and helping my national team qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup.
Many USA fans hoped that Zakuani would consider playing for the United States, the country where he began his professional career, as well as spent much of his school years.
"It's true that I was eligible for three national teams: England, United States and, of course, Congo DR," Zakuani stated. "I definitely considered playing for the U.S., but the three-year wait for citizenship, without any fast-tracking possibilities, made the decision to represent the nation of my birth a little bit easier. I'm excited about the challenge ahead."
Zakuani was born in the Congo DR capital of Kinshasa. Since being drafted out of Akron by Sounders FC with the top overall selection of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft he has totaled 14 goals and 10 assists in 58 league appearances.
Besides the chance to avoid having to wait for international play, Zakuani's choice of the Congo team could have been motivated by family. Also named to the 23-man national team squad was Zakuani's older brother, Gabriel, a defender for Peterborough United of England's League One.
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