Jordan Siebatcheu: Union Berlin's goalscoring USMNT forward hitting the ground running


He opened his Union Berlin scoring account in what was a memorable debut appearance against Hertha Berlin in the capital derby, and now USMNT international Jordan Siebatcheu is keen to continue making a name for himself in the Bundesliga.

He talks mangas with Borussia Dortmund's Gio Reyna, played with superstar goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, and scored a famous winner against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League, but just what do you call Union's new USMNT striker? Jordan Siebatcheu, Jordan Pefok, Jordan, or simply Jordy? bundesliga.com reveals all.

USMNT striker Jordan Siebatcheu couldn't have hoped for a better start in Union colours. - Martin Rose/Getty Images

Search for the USA international on Twitter, and you'll find his official account, 'Call me Pefok' with his handle @TheosonSmith just adding to the confusion. He made his Union debut with 'Jordan' on his back, wears 'Pefok' on his shirt for the USA, is talked about as Siebatcheu in the media, and meet him in person, he introduces himself as Jordy. Confused? Let's clear this up.

Theoson-Jordan Siebatcheu was born in Washington DC on 26 April 1996 to parents from Cameroon, moving to France when he was very young, and he started playing football at Stade de Reims aged seven.

When his mother and grandmother came to watch him play for the club's first team, "I surprised them by replacing Siebatcheu with Pefok, their Cameroonian name, on my shirt. Family is the basis of everything."

Siebatcheu has certainly made a name (or several) for himself since he started at Reims even if it is only now — aged 26 — that he has fully tapped into his potential. He did finish second-top scorer in Ligue 2 — the French second division — in 2017/18 to fire Reims to promotion with current Chelsea and Senegal star Mendy in goal, but the move to top-flight side Rennes that followed did not work out as he played just 29 league games over the next two seasons, scoring a paltry three goals.

Cue a loan move to Young Boys in the Swiss capital Berne and the start of a renaissance. Twelve goals and four assists in 32 Super League matches in his first season — to help his team pick up the title — convinced YB to take up the option to make the switch permanent. They were handsomely repaid with a league-high 22 strikes in 32 games last season, as well as a brace of strikes in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

"The Champions League is crazy! I'd played in the Europa League with Rennes, but this was exceptional. I can't put into words the frissons, the music and everything, but you can imagine. And in my first game, I scored against Manchester United," Siebatcheu explained to So Foot.

"It was mad. Jesse Lingard played a bad pass and instead played me through on goal. The worst thing was that I changed my mind at the last minute. That's why I slipped and I didn't hit the shot as cleanly as I would have liked."

His form in Switzerland also caught the eye of USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, and Siebatcheu made his Stars and Stripes debut in March 2021. On his fourth appearance, he replaced former Werder Bremen forward Josh Sargent late on to score the only goal of the game in the CONCACAF Nations League semi-finals against Honduras, and he then featured in the final as Mexico were beaten. He had previously played for France's U21s and had the possibility of turning out for Cameroon, but he has settled happily into the US squad.

Jordan Siebatcheu struck a late match winner against Manchester United for Young Boys in the UEFA Champions League last season. - SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP via Getty Images

"It was above all the fans who were surprised. They said, 'How long has he been American?' My integration went really smoothly. We have a young team, so as soon as I was presented to the squad, the guys were relaxed, very welcoming. It was very American!" Siebatcheu told So Foot.

"For the language, there's no problem. In fact, I'm from an Anglophone family in Cameroon, so the vocabulary isn't a problem. The only thing I can't get rid of unfortunately is the French accent [laughs]. The Americans swallow the letter 'r' when they speak. I can't do that and I try to avoid forcing it. Worse still, the players try to speak to me in French. All I ask of them is to stop saying 'soccer'!"

While Lille forward Timothy Weah, and Orlando City FC's Nicholas Gioacchini, who spent seven years in France with Paris FC, Caen and Montpellier, give Siebatcheu an opportunity to speak French, his discussions with Reyna have an Asian flavour.

Watch: Union and Siebatcheu enjoy Derby-day delight

"I had scored for YB against Leverkusen in the Europa League Round of 32. As he also plays in the Bundesliga, he did a little debrief of the game for me. That broke the ice. And we have a passion in common: mangas," explained the Union striker. "Our first talks weren't about football, but Naruto. I went back through the 720 episodes because of it."

One way of explaining his goalscoring start to his Union Berlin career is that his development in Switzerland wasn't even held back by the language barrier with Berne situated in the German-speaking region of a country where French and Italian are also official languages.

"In the first few months, I didn't understand anything on signs, so it took a little longer than expected to find my way around [laughs]," he said. "But it's much better now, I can improvise a discussion. But when the Germans are having a laugh in their language, it's a little bit too complicated."

Now in the German capital, Siebatcheu can keeping working on his language skills, but — as he has done so far — the Union fans will be happy as long as he keeps letting his goalscoring talent do the talking.