Mohanad Jeahze arrives for D.C. United


PALM DESERT, Calif. — His name is Mohanad Jeahze, and he’s the new DC United quarterback.

“You can call me Mo,” he said. “It’s easier for everyone.”

His personal and professional story is a bit more complicated.

Jeahze, 25, is an Iraqi Swede who, despite never visiting Iraq, committed to national soccer two years ago and subsequently appeared in four World Cup qualifiers.

This is the middle child of two teachers, Kadim and Naghada, who closed his eyes before the language of the class in Sweden, left in the Iraq war torn 1990s. Their children were born in Sweden and raised in Linkoping, an area of ​​165,000 meters with a significant population.

They learned Swedish and English and embraced the local culture. They spoke Arabic at home and carried on family traditions that began in the north of Iraq (the mother’s family) and in the south. His parents, Jeahze said, do not like to talk about the past.

Jeahze (pronounced Ja-haz) classmates and fellow Syrians, Afghans and Somalis — the first generations from families who fled the turmoil to provide a better life for themselves and their children.

“To me, the perfect mix,” said Jeahze. “We met people from all over.”

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His soccer career flourished and he was invited to the Swedish youth national teams. It is not uncommon for players from immigrant families to represent Sweden. The most famous is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a superstar striker whose parents emigrated from Yugoslavia.

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Jeahze’s Iraqi counterpart, Amir al-Ammari, followed a similar path to Jeahze, playing for Sweden’s under-19 team before committing to Iraq, his father’s country.

Jeahze takes pride in her multicultural background and upbringing. In his heart he said “Swedish and Iraqi”.

“In my head I’m from Iraq, but everything we learn is from Sweden: school, soccer, everything,” he said. “I still see myself as Swedish. When people ask, I say I was born here but my parents are from Iraq.”

Jeahze’s journey to the Swedish senior national team took longer than expected. He was approached by coaches, but after a few years “I was too far away,” he said.

Iraqi officials were aware of the disease’s roots and were regularly contacting Jaehze. In 2021 he explained that, like the country, it had been decimated by war.

“The lore itself is important in Sweden,” he said, “but when I play for Iraq, I see as much as the people.”

At the beginning of his tenure in Iraq, Jeahze thought he was proving himself both on the field and in himself. “It felt like maybe some of them were thinking: ‘You’ve been happy all your life in Sweden.’ Nothing will be easy for you here,’ he said. “I couldn’t do anything about it. Maybe they didn’t think I was like they were in Iraq.”

Jeahze started three 2022 World Cup qualifiers and left on the fourth bench. Despite being banned by FIFA from playing domestic games due to security concerns, Iraq hosted most of the qualifiers in Qatar.

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“That first game” [against Syria]I am really proud, but if the fans had been there, it would have been better,” he said. “He was thinking about my family and how proud they are.”

Iraq did not qualify, finishing fourth in a six-nation group at the Asian Confederation’s final round of competition. The country’s only World Cup appearance was in 1986. Represented by an under-25 team, the Olympic squad was a semifinalist at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

This winter, Iraq won its first international tournament in more than 40 years, and the first since 1988. It won the Arab Gulf Cup. Because he was going through the US work visa process, Jeahze was not on the team.

Before joining United, he played 2½ seasons for Hammarby, who finished third in the top division in 2022. Last summer, Jeahze was seen as prepared for a move to Scotland (Celtic) or Turkey (Besiktas). He speaks of a difficult situation. In the fall, United began serious studies.

Hammarby County’s assistant coach Pete Shuttleworth resigned from the match and Rooney and the technical staff. United paid a transfer fee estimated at $750,000 and signed him through 2025, with a club option for 2016.

“Pete thought he would fit into our system,” Coach Wayne Rooney said. “He is a very good footballer on the ball, very good with his left foot, comfortable attacking.”

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In the training camp, Jeahze speaks Swedish in the center of the Icelandic field Victor Palsson, who played one season with the Swedish club. To relieve Jeahze’s passing, Palsson fights with him in Sweden.

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Palsson is on his second MLS tour since playing for the New York Red Bulls in 2012. Until a few weeks ago, Jeahze had never been to the United States. When asked if Jeahze is something new in America, Palsson deadpanned, “I’ve already tried to introduce him to the salad at the time, because he needs to be fit.”

Rooney placed a heavy emphasis on fitness. Jeahze, who in the DC system should run to the left side and join the attack, is a little behind.

“I told him he needed to be fit. He knows,” Rooney said. “We hit him.”

With the season opener against Toronto FC 4½ weeks away, Jeahze understands he needs to step it up. The United States will play four matches in the Coachella Valley Invitational, starting Wednesday against Charlotte FC (one 90-minute) and the Vancouver Whitecaps (45 minutes).

“When DC showed interest, I thought it was good,” Jeahze said. “I did it here. I like it here. Now I have to work and show the club that they made the right decision.


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