U.S. Youth National Teams

Bernardo raises doubt over USMNT future



Vincenzo Bernardo has a decision to make.

Despite comments earlier in his career about wanting to suit up for the U.S., and contrary to some reports, Bernardo has yet to decide if he wants to play for the United States or Italy at the senior level.

In an exclusive interview with SBI, Bernardo revealed that his decision is far from made.

"I wouldn't say that I declared anything really," Bernardo said, referring to comments he made in 2007 on choosing the U.S. over Italy. "I was asked an important question that came when I was very young in my career. However, I do not regret anything I said regarding wanting to represent USA."

Bernardo's latest comments are sure to worry some American fans, who are all too familiar with drawing the short end of the stick when it comes to talented young players with dual citizenship. In 2008 alone, the U.S. lost two talented prospects, Giuseppe Rossi (Italy) and Neven Subotic (Serbia), to European countries.

Unlike Rossi and Subotic though, Bernardo has come out publicly and stated that his choice still remains in the hands of the U.S. Soccer Federation and U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen.

"My decision lies heavily on the U-20 cycle with USA," Bernardo said in an interview via email with SBI.

That U-20 cycle has not started well for Bernardo in 2009. In January, reports surfaced that Bernardo and three other players had been dismissed by Rongen from a U.S. training camp held in Sunrise, Fl. due to disciplinary reasons.

However, the latest disappointment came earlier this week when Bernardo failed to get called into the U-20 national team camp in Bradenton, Fl., home of the U.S. residency program. The 20-player team is making its final preparations for the U-20 World Cup qualifying tournament which starts in Trinidad and Tobago on March 6.

Bernardo would not disclose whether it was Napoli which prevented him from playing in the qualifying tournament or if Rongen decided to omit him from the team (A U.S. Soccer source told SBI that Bernardo was not chosen).

"I was told by the people around me not to comment on that question," Bernardo said.

Bernardo, who has his own website, also said that his ultimate short term goal is to play in the U-20 World Cup in Egypt in the fall.

"Today being almost three years older and more mature on and off the field, I've realized how important this decision is for me so I will take into serious consideration both options," Bernardo said. 

"I do feel the same way as I did back in 2007, but I would say that I am more aware of the situation."

Bernardo is in no rush to make a decision. He has until his 21st birthday, May 22nd of 2011, to declare for a national team.

What do you think of Bernardo's comments? Shocked? Think the USSF/Rongen is letting another star-in-the-making get away? Do you see Bernardo suiting up for USA when everything is all said and done?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Steve0

    Jeffrey, the only kinds of players you lose are the ones you DEVELOP. Rossi was developed by an Italian club to become an Italian youth international. Had he settled for the US after playing for Italian youth teams for 5 years, we would have been stealing him from Italy. Sorry, that’s just how the cookie crumbles. And if being born in and spending a good part one’s life in another country obligates one to play for that country, what do you make of Freddy Adu? But he was never developed by Ghana, so we didn’t steal him, just like we never developed Rossi and therefore didn’t lose him. It was always going to be Italy or nothing with him.

    Posted by: Tim | February 27, 2009 at 02:50 PM


    Thank you Tim !


  • Eugene

    Ives, Ives to the courtesy phone, Vincenzo’s agent is playing games with you again just like he’s been playing games with many of us for months now.

    Like Turtle, I also just saw the comment on Vincenzo’s website. Of course, no native English speaker wrote that, so we are all being whipped about by the Machiavellian delusions of Bernardo’s agent.

    It still doesn’t change what I wrote earlier about Rongen needing oversight. It just makes no sense to get against a teenager with dual citizenship who is doing pretty decently in his career. Sure Bernardo may not be playing full time with Napoli’s first team, but he apparently is with the Primavera squad and he does apparently have a professional contract with the club. Personally, I would gamble on including key kids with dual citizenships and excluding a comparable kid just with American citizenship. Because you can always go back to the Clint Dempsey you (Rongen) left of the squad and invite him back in at a senior level. But if the dual-citizenship player (Subotic) flies the coop, there’s no getting him back in.

    I like Rongen as a coach, I think he does very good work at the youth level and brings some great European/Ajax perspective to the preparation of our U-20s teams, but I can’t deny that the kids playing defense in the last cycle were exposed and could have been helped by a Subotic.

    I’m NO fan of Subotic. However, Subotic was rightfully upset about Rongen calling him out in the media and publicizing criticisms of him. Thus far, Rongen has not publicly called out any particular player to the media in this cycle. BUT he has called out ALL of the players publicly in this cycle numerous times when he’s gone on record saying ‘there are no “special” players in this U-20s cycle… this time we’ll have a very workman-like approach to the team.’ I believe that was stated in some ESPNSoccernet articles, I know for a FACT that it was stated to Glenn Davis in his radio show in Houston.


  • TK

    These nin-come-poops and ultra-maroons need to wonder about superboys attitude to.

    His Prima coach has an issue with him and he got kicked out of the last U20 camp.

    Grand. I wanna hire his agent. This is classic. SydFinchesque.

    I don’t play for my team. They let me play in some amateur tourney on cow fields for the NY Stars and we are gonna lose him to Italy! Haha!

    LOL. My belly aches.


  • Steve0

    You can’t lose something that was never yours to begin with, Ives. Yes, Rossi was born and raised here until he was a young teenager. However, he was never going to play for us. Plain and simple. There is nothing USSF could’ve done. He never played in our youth setup and signed on with Parma as a teen.

    The USSF did reach out to him. He and his father had his heart set on Italy. So to put him alongside Subotic and this kid is disingenuous in that it suggests that USSF is somehow responsible. You are a decent writer and I like your blog and visit every day. I wish you would just acknowledge this reality.

    Posted by: John Fish | February 27, 2009 at 03:08 PM


    Well Said. John Fish.


  • Turtle

    TK – I’ve trying to figure out how he played in that tournament with the NY Stars while being under contract with napoli until 2011 (according to his Biography on the website bearing his name). I can’t find a mention of him on the Napoli website. I’m really curious of his actual status with that team. Sounds like hype to me. For me there are more questions about this kid than anything.

    And then the-website-bearing-his-name comes out and says this website misrepresented his interview (that was conducted in writing!!!) and he absolutely wants to play for the USA.

    I think “his people” have under-estimated A) the outrageous pride of US soccerfan and B) the power of Ives’ blog.


  • Peter

    Vincenzo Bernardo on http://www.soccerbyives.net interview
    February 27, 2009
    Vincenzo Bernardo said that he was misrepresented in his statements on the site http://www.soccerbyives.com. In the article, states Vincenzo having doubt with his decision to represent U.S.A.; which is false. He ASSURES to be very happy to be part of the U.S.A program and declares that this is his first choice TODAY, AND IN THE FUTURE. Vincenzo therefore rejects any statement opposite to that thought.


  • brett

    TK – the primavera coach is taking heat on multiple things, one of which is the exclusion of Bernardo… or at least this is the stuff ive picked up from multiple boards….

    im not about to begin to say i know anything, b/c as far as this kid goes, there isnt any news…. but its prevalent that Napoli and their head coach are pretty high on the kid… especially since they wouldnt let some teams from Serie B buy him when they were trying to loan him out this winter….


  • erik

    February 27, 2009
    Vincenzo Bernardo said that he was misrepresented in his statements on the site http://www.soccerbyives.com. In the article, states Vincenzo having doubt with his decision to represent U.S.A.; which is false. He ASSURES to be very happy to be part of the U.S.A program and declares that this is his first choice TODAY, AND IN THE FUTURE. Vincenzo therefore rejects any statement opposite to that thought.

    (source: http://www.vincenzobernardo.net/eng/home.asp )


  • Isaac

    This is a wild thought, but I think Dutch coaches have a very good eye for offensive talent as opposed to defensive stability. He didn’t choose Subotic because he didn’t have a very good sense of what a defense really needs. He understands what the attack needs. It needs creative, technical players (at least the way Rongen plays). At the last U-20 world cup USA was doing so well in terms of attack, the defense never had to worry because the attack was that good and could hold possesion. However in the end bad defensive play led to the U.S. getting knocked out. If Rongen doesn’t believe Bernardo is good enough to come in as a forward/midfielder (which I think is his position), I trust his decision on that.

    Again this is just a wild thought….


  • GE

    Abdus/Fuad Ibrahim didn’t get called up either. Maybe he’ll go native and suit up for Canada?


  • Jacob A.

    “Attualmente, è in forza alla primavera del Napoli”

    That’s from the info section of that youtube video someone posted earlier, and with my admittedly rusty Italian, I believe the video’s poster thinks fondly of him, as I think that means “Also, he is a force in the Primavera for Napoli”. I could also be well off.


  • Luke in NC

    Yeah you gotta have standards and discipline on the youth squads…..but the goal is to help develop players for the nation. Sounds like Rongen might just be screwing up the main point of his job.


  • Nathan

    Rongen has to stand up to players like Arguez and Bernardo because if he doesnt then there will be no discipline in the team. Look at how many college football athletes were arrested last year. The coaches let them do whatever they wanted to and they ended up arrested and useless to their team and coach


  • jmart

    I’ve got a question that somebody may know. If a person has dual citizenship and has not declared a country to represent, and is over 21, what happens? Or is a person forced by FIFA to make at decision when he/she turns 21.


  • Tim

    If he hasn’t been capped provisionally by age 21, a player is then free to play for any country of which he has citizenship (only one, mind you ;)) I don’t think FIFA actually forces you to declare your nationality upon turning 21.


  • This Guy

    I can attest to the skills of Vini.

    On my Footy Manager 2009 my max level Potential Ability Scout says that he would be a starter for most Premier League teams in the future.

    I think the kid’s been getting beaten up on in here. He’s not Eddie Johnson. Who my max level scout said has the potential to be a star in the Premier League. You can’t argue with that. EJ has more potential than anyone. Will we ever see it though?


  • oh danny boy

    Can someone explain to me why all the sudden we are a farm system for Europe now. What’s the problem with the US not getting any loyalty from these young players?


  • This Guy


    You’re right. Look at Amauri with Juve. He is Brasilian and was 27 when Italy wanted to get him naturalized. He now is getting called up by Brazil though.


  • Farrukh Quraishi

    I think that it is wonderful that there is so much interest in the national teams programs and that people have a forum for expressing their opinions. However, I take issue with the personal attacks on Thomas Rongen’s knowledge of the game and his ability to identify talent. It was Thomas Rongen, as head coach of the Tampa Bay Mutiny, who identified, drafted and developed Steve Ralston out of FIU when MLS first started. Thomas also identified and selected Frankie Hejduk in the same draft. Both players have been among the very best and most consistent players in the short history of MLS. Has he made any mistakes? Sure, but who hasn’t? It’s very easy to be an armchair critic. Cut the guy some slack. Coaching is not an exact science and the beauty of the game lies in the differing opinions about players, tactics and teams.



    This may have been posted already. But on his personal website, there is a section that says that it refutes the article posted by http://www.soccerbyives.net saying that he will stay within the U.S. national team pool. So essentially everyone is bickering over nothing.


  • IvarsClam

    Could somebody post that link to whatever it said on this third string Italians personal Facespace Linkiden site… Thanks bro



  • Ted

    Bernardo is a normal lock starter on the U-20 team and has been for the majority of the cycle. Check the match reports.

    The statement on his Web site is interesting.


  • TK

    for everyone that says, this kid is bluffing he’s not good enough, lets remember that in 2005 subotic was languishing on the bench at a bundesliga 2 side, subotic had talent that went unnoticed by the us, does bernardo have the same type of upside? is rongen the best we have at a u-20 level to judge that talent?

    NS spent the fall “languishing” on the FIRST TEAM BENCH. Then he played the WHOLE spring. His FIRST TEAM coach backed him all of the way from the day he was there.

    There is nothing remotely close to this. Napoli treats him like an after thought.

    How the NY Stars doing? Can’t even play for the reserve team (Prima). If you make comparisons at least make real ones.

    Still laughing at this board in general. So little understanding of particular players and what their situations were. Ignorance and strong opinions abound. LOL stuff.


  • This Guy


    Mainz is no Napoli. Napoli is one of the top in the World at producing. They ran into some trouble a couple years back and aren’t as recognized by the newcomers to the World of Football but don’t compare Mainz and Napoli.


  • tony

    something is fishy defenetly, iwas athe camp in sunrise and what happened to tab ramos the assistant coach? bernardo is only 18 and with far more talent and experiance than most; andyou can take that to the bank.


  • madmax

    Thomas Rongen would do everyone a favor if he listed the CD’s he picked over Nevin and why he considered them superior, (don’t hold your breath).
    USSF needs to look at Rongen’s last statement that players need to be 100% committed to USA before he’ll consider them. They’re teenagers, and FIFA lets them go to 21 before they decide why can’t Rongen?


  • jojo

    Maybe these Euro-Gringos would rather not have to come back to the States for qualifiers to just get hacked around by the likes of Mexico?


  • Ives

    For those of you wondering, SBI will be addressing the Bernardo story on Monday.


  • tomas

    This kid plays in Italy for a mid-table team and Altidore trains with Villarreal, yet players like Brian Ching and Taylor Twellman start WC qualifiers and Rongen – who’s missed out on every freaking dual citizen in the pool pushes this kid into Italy’s waiting arms.

    There are way too many things I don’t understand.


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