In a recent post, a reader commented on the new additions to the national team player pool being “foreigners who aren’t good enough to play for their own countries” and lamented the fact guys like Edgar Castillo and Jermaine Jones could usurp priceless WC spots from “hardworking Americans” (whose first choice was to play for the US).
Jones and Castillo...settling for playing with the USMNT?
Putting aside the fact that Castillo was born and raised in New Mexico, the reader’s comment got me thinking about the subject. Essentially, when it comes to the national team, what is more important…
Fielding the absolute best team, even if it means “importing” players with only technical ties to America?
Fielding a team that is wholly comprised of born-and-bred, flag-respecting Americans?
The issue will never be that black-and-white because there really is a continuum of “American” from born-and-raised to I-can-trace-an-acceptable-bloodline. So before you answer consider these backgrounds in the current MNT player pool which are decidedly all over the map…
Iceman would be just as comfortable juggling in a kilt
Stuart Holden – born in Scotland, moved to Houston at age 10, became a US citizen in 2006
Clint Dempsey – born and raised in Texas
Jozy Altidore – born in New Jersey, parents are Haitian
Robbie Findley – born and raised in Phoenix, dual citizenship (USA and Trinidad & Tobago), was in camp with for the T&T U-23 squad in 2006
Freddy Adu – born in Ghana, moved to the US at age 8, became a citizen in 2003
Jonathan Spector – born and raised in Illinois, secured a German passport to play in Europe
Sacha Kljestan – born and raised in California, father is an ethnic Serb from Bosnia
Tim Howard – born and raised in New Jersey, mother was born in Hungary
Benny Feilhaber – born in Brazil, of Austrian decent, moved to the US at age 6
Carlos Bocanegra – born and raised in California, of Mexican decent
Pablo Mastoeni – born in Argentina, moved to Phoenix at age 4
And what about former MNT players…
Goose in the land of watches, army knives and neutrality?
Marcelo Balboa – grew up in California, father was Argentinean (similar to Claudio Reyna)
Tab Ramos – born in Uruguay, moved to NJ at age 11 where
Jeff Agoos – born in Switzerland (to an American diplomat), grew up in Texas
Earnie Stewart – born in the Netherlands
Fielding the best team is the right choice for two reasons. First, elevating the level of play for the USMNT would be tremendous for a variety of reasons and second…
If America stands for anything it is the acceptance of and opportunity for all people. The current USMNT represents this and with its global ties really is a true reflection of America. And besides, “foreigners” aren’t given spots, they have to earn them…another hallmark of the American experience.
In addition, a second question has emerged more recently (which the aforementioned TSG reader later clarified as his main point of contention) as result of a recent FIFA rule change. Specifically, should players that fail to catch on with foreign national teams get a second chance to play for the USMNT if they have that opportunity via American ties?