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Cavan Sullivan wants ‘to win the World Cup with the USA’

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In the years to come, Cavan Sullivan won’t just play for the Union, and later on Manchester City. The 14-year-old attacking midfield phenom is also going to pick a national team where he could someday play on soccer’s biggest stage of all, the FIFA World Cup.

A national team is a lifetime commitment once you reach the senior level, and a lot of soccer players don’t even get to choose. They’re born somewhere, their parents are also from there, and that’s it. But because Sullivan’s mother Heike has a German passport — he does too.

Heike’s father, the late Klaus Krippendorff, came to the U.S. from Germany in the 1960s and was a renowned professor of communication at Penn. She played varsity soccer at Penn in the ‘90s, captaining the Quakers’ women’s team in 1994 and 1995. Along the way, she met her future husband, Brendan Sullivan, who played for the men’s team.

Fast-forward a little under 30 years later, and here we are. At this point, Cavan Sullivan has already played for the United States under-15 and under-16 teams. But a player with multi-national eligibility doesn’t have to commit until the senior level.

» READ MORE: Why Cavan Sullivan, hyped as the world’s best 14-year-old soccer player, chose to turn pro with the Union

That leaves the door open for Germany to try to win Sullivan over. In March, German newspaper TZ reported that the the four-time men’s World Cup champions had scouted Sullivan “a few times,” and was considering inviting him to youth teams.

The report got lots of people talking, even if it was always clear that Germany landing Sullivan is a long shot.

So would he say yes? We had a chance to ask him in a recent interview, ahead of the announcement this week of his signing with the Union.

“I mean, I’m an American, but I’m open to options, I guess?” he said, seated with his parents, and they all laughed. “I want to win the World Cup with the USA. So that’s all I’ve got to say.”

Consider it said, then — and a reminder that he’s still just 14. In the rest of American culture, that’s eighth grade, not even high school yet.

» READ MORE: ‘Cavan is special’: Union’s Ernst Tanner says Cavan Sullivan is one of the best he’s ever seen

Yes, Sullivan has already made big decisions in life. One was picking Manchester City over the many other European teams that wanted him, including Germany’s Borussia Dortmund. The club that developed Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna was on Sullivan’s trail for years, inviting him over for a trial as early as September 2020.

But Sullivan’s soccer career has a long way to go, on and off the field, and he doesn’t have to make his national team decision any time soon. He’s a great prospect, but as with any player of his age, it will be a few years before he gets to the senior national team level. Especially with the U.S. or Germany, which have deep talent pools.

The U.S. pool, by the way, includes Cavan’s oldest brother, Quinn, who’s also on the Union. He played for the Americans’ under-20 squad at last year’s age-group World Cup, and is competing to make this year’s under-23 Olympic team (though he faces long odds).

Could they play together for the U.S. some day? We’ll have to wait to see. At least it should be a shorter wait for them to play together for the Union, now that Cavan is officially a pro.

» READ MORE: Is Cavan Sullivan really that good? Here’s what to know about the Union academy and its teen phenom.

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