ESPN’s Ian Darke and John Harkes dug back into the old misconception about “what could have been” if Villarreal’s Giuseppe Rossi, a New Jersey native who plays his international football for Italy, would have declared for the USMNT. This all came after both Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo were subbed off in the second half against Spain. Rossi RT’d this bit above after those comments came on the ESPN telecast.
Accusations of some sort of football “treason” are obviously misguided because for one, Rossi holds both Italian and American citizenship and moved back to Italy at the age of 12 to be part of Parma’s youth system. The wishful thinking about Rossi in a USMNT kit comes because he was purely raised and taught from those teenage years by the Italian system, loyal to the Azzurri and played for them at every international level before his first call-up to the senior team. Bruce Arena didn’t even bother to look at him until the Italian system had done all the work.
And let’s be perfectly honest with ourselves: if Giuseppe had been, say, Joey Rossi and gone through the U.S. system of collegiate soccer and MLS, it’s likely he wouldn’t be half the player he is right now — and the only reason he doesn’t get more attention right now is because he plays for a Spanish team that isn’t Barcelona or Real Madrid, although there are rumors he’ll be signing with the former rather soon. He was playing for Manchester United, Newcastle & Parma in his late teens. Players coming through the American system don’t come up on the radars of top-notch European clubs that early.
When the USSF plucks guys like Juan Agudelo, Jose Francisco Torres, Herculez Gomez, and Jermaine Jones in this fluid nationality game that is permissible under FIFA, we don’t get to play the aggrieved party for Rossi. He wouldn’t be who he is without Italian soccer and his heritage, and it’s silly to think he would have spurned the Azzurri for the USMNT.
Rossi is symptomatic of the larger problem of the U.S. soccer system being unable to consistently develop creative players (non-keepers) that can regularly compete in the best leagues of international club soccer. Raging at him for some sort of alleged treason won’t fix that.
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