Much like former UCLA standout Benny Feilhaber did in 2005, UCLA star Sal Zizzo turned his Under-20 experience into a Bundesliga contract.
Zizzo signed a three-year deal with German side Hannover 96 after his strong performance for the United States in the Under-20 World Cup. Feilhaber had a similar fate after starring in the 2005 edition when he joined Hamburg following the tournament instead of rejoining UCLA.
Zizzo was impressive for the US and one of the unheralded stars. While Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu grabbed the headlines before the tournament, Zizzo didn't even fall into the "known commodity" category such as Michael Bradley, Danny Szetela and Nathan Sturgis because he was a college player.
Clearly the best path for him to take at this time was Germany. Had he stayed in school, he might have been taken high in next year's MLS draft but this was too good a deal to pass up. Consider this: his previous team's next friendly is slated for Aug. 24 at North Carolina State; his current team's next friendly is on July 31 against Real Madrid.
Now, Feilhaber has blossomed into one of the USMNT's key players for this World Cup cycle, and he has come along without the benefit of playing for Hamburg's first team. It's unfair in a way that Zizzo will have that sort of bar set for him but in many ways those sorts of expectations are likely to be placed on him, fair or not.
From what I've seen, he's a fine player and will do well to harness some of his energy and bulk up a little. And now the rabid followers of Americans abroad will have another player to keep tabs on.