U.S. Youth National Teams

Clarifying the Bernardo story (and more Bernardo answers)


There has been some controversy and confusion regarding comments made by U.S. youth national team forward Vincenzo Bernardo last week, comments attributed to him as part of an interview conducted by Soccer By Ives last week.

Soon after the above comments were released by SBI last Friday, Bernardo came forward on his personal website and stated that his quotes were misrepresented and that playing for the United States is his first choice, now and in the future.

In the interest of clarity and full disclosure, we are running the full statement made by Bernardo to SBI about his national team future, along with the question that triggered the response (You can also find Bernardo's answers to some more SBI questions after the jump):

SBI- Back in 2007, you declared that if both Italy and the United States called you up to their National Teams that it would be a tough decision but that you would ultimately choose the U.S. as that is where you heart lies and that you want to help the sport grow in this country. Do you still feel the same way? Has the Italian Federation come in contact with you?

BERNARDO– I wouldn't say that I declared anything really. 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. My decision lies heavily on the U20 cycle with USA.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. I do feel the same way as I did back in 2007, but I would say that I am more aware of the situation.


While we at SBI regret that Bernardo feels his words were misrepresented, SBI stands by its original report.

Here are the rest of Bernardo's answers to SBI correspondent GianFranco Panizo on topics ranging from his preferred position to his prospects for receiving playing time in Italy:

SBI– For fans out there who might not know who you are yet, tell me what's your preferred position and describe your style of play.

BERNARDO– I consider myself a supporting striker (second forward). I can also play outside or attacking center midfielder. I am a technical player with agility and speed. I work hard around the final third of the field by picking up important fouls near goal and putting myself and my teammates in position to score.


SBI– How was your transition from American teenager to professional soccer player? Were their some huge learning curves or did you adapt quickly?

BERNARDO– Well its always been a dream of mine to become a professional soccer player. So when i lived in America i grew up with the mentality of becoming a professional. when it finally became a reality, i was already living that lifestyle so i adapted well to the changes.


SBI– What do you miss most about living in America/New Jersey?
BERNARDO- Definitely my Family and friends.


SBI- How would you describe your current situation with Napoli? Would you recommend other American youths to make the jump to European youth teams?

BERNARDO- My situation is real good here with Napoli. I have a positive relationship with the club. Hopefully I can continue doing well here and eventually my moment will come with the first team. Playing soccer in europe is the highest level a player can reach, so I definitely recommend for young American players to come to Europe if they feel that they are ready to make that jump.


SBI–  What are some of your short term goals and long term goals regarding your soccer career?

BERNARDO– My short term goals are to continue playing with napoli till the end of the season then hopefully go out on loan for next season. Most importantly, The U-20 world cup is my ultimate short term goal. For long term, I hope i can stay healthy and continue playing soccer at the highest level. 


SBI– When did you first receive interest from Napoli? How is your relationship with manager Edoardo Reja?

BERNARDO– A napoli scout saw me play in a tournament with the ODP Regional team in italy. That's when i first received interest from the club. My relationship with Reja is a professional one. I am still young and i try to take in anything from the older players on the team. I've learned a lot being with them and the primavera team this year.

SBI- Has the idea of you getting a loan deal to find playing time ever come up? If so, where?

BERNARDO– Yes, there were numerous teams interested in buying me during the January transfer window. Napoli declared that the only way I would leave would be on loan. So i decided to stay and gain experience playing day in and day out with some of the best players in the Italian serie A. Then hopefully start next season with a new team on loan. I am not sure where but i will keep my options open even outside of Italy as well.


Feel free to share your thoughts on Bernardo's answers in the comments section below.

  • MZ

    It sounds to me like Bernardo wants to play for the US unless they dont pick him which could be a reality.

    I think the original report was accurate.

    We should just cap tie him, so he can’t burn us like Rossi, Subotic, Castillo etc. I understand he has to be 21 to be cap tied, so thats not for another 2 years, but i dont see him being a player who can make a difference for Italy in the next two years so if we bring him in, keep giving him opportunities, we will be a shoe in.


  • Steve

    Rongen is to Subotic as Galarcep is to Bernardo?


    I think its a positive sign that the kid cares enough to take the time to clarify whether there was true confusion or not.


  • Angel

    Well I think he sound mature of what he want to become and do, I hope he feels very strong on his feeling in playing for the USNMT but if Italy comes calling well I still wish him well. Remember he making a statement that he want to play for the USA that is why we need to keep in touch and keep pushing to play for us especially in the U20 World Cup same for the other player in Seria A & B end the other league in Europe. We need a very strong team and start winning this U20 and U17 Cups. So Cabrera and Roegen keep an eyes and don’t let this player go away. ARE U LISTENING MR. BOB BRADLEY AND G. SUNATI


  • Timmy!

    “I work hard around the final third of the field by picking up important fouls near goal.”

    Does this mean he’s a diver?


  • Mike Caramba

    I read an interview with Rongen recently where he talked about needing players with first-team experience for the U-20 World Cup–this is why he relies so heavily on college players. Given, I’m not there during the training sessions, I haven’t seen these kids play, but I think I’d take a Napoli reserve over most college strikers. I think playing in the reserve league and training with Serie-A quality players at least matches college players’ “first team” experience–in my view, it exceeds the college game.


  • JerryNY

    The kid is full of it. He was angry with Rongen over not being picked and then throws this “I’m not sure yet” stuff, then when he catches heat for that, he comes back with “I was misquoted.” Typical athlete stuff, kinda sad to come from a kid his age.


  • Ives

    We would have posted this earlier today but were waiting for a response from Bernardo. We wanted to give him a chance to offer up a statement in his own words declaring that he plans to play for the United States and isn’t considering any other options.

    If that statement does come then we will gladly post it.


  • Mike I

    I think he was angry over being left off the U-20 qualifiers. Lashed out a bit, then tried to back track.


  • Alex

    Reserve team soccer is nothing compared to playing in meaningful games, check the crew vs the everton reserves its not the same. so in this regard TR is right. plus its not just about playing soccer its about playing in TR’s system and if your pro team won’t let you attend camps and qualifiers it puts you at a disadvantage to the guys who get to play in that system.


  • SonicDeathMonkey

    “Does this mean he’s a diver?”


    He plays in Italy, doesn’t he? 😉


  • brandon

    does bernardo not speak english anymore??? i’d like to see his explanation on how ives misrepresented his statements.


  • Hector Ortiz

    Once again, what appears to be a “gotcha” interview backfires on both the player and reporter.

    For what its worth, I think that until someone sees this kid play, this is all just fluff.


  • jloome

    Once again, what appears to be a “gotcha” interview backfires on both the player and reporter.

    For what its worth, I think that until someone sees this kid play, this is all just fluff.
    How is this a “gotcha” interview (I’m not even sure what that means) and how did it backfire on the reporter? The reporter did his job; the player got scared about his own statements downplaying his US team connection and backtracked. It happens every day, at every news outlet.

    He said what he said. The smart thing for Bernardo to do would be to convey his “overplayed” message privately to the Nats and leave it to disappear otherwise. Instead, he looks like a disingenuous goofball which, given the apparent lack of interest from Italy in the first play, was already the case.


  • frank

    I’ve seen this kid play back when he was with St. Benedicts and the Metrostars. He was always one of the youngest players on the field. He’s fast, quick, and very good technically. He can score and he isn’t a selfish forward.

    Then went to italy and got all famous after scoring a lot of goals his first two years. at 18 he was offered a 3 year professional contract and is training with the pro team now.

    Its clear that this kid is a good player. lets give him some time to see how good he becomes.


  • Mike Caramba


    I would never argue that playing for the reserves is as beneficial as playing in real games, but I question whether playing “meaningful” games for a college team is MORE beneficial than playing reserve games, training with professionals, and focusing 100% on soccer. Rongen himself admits in the very same interview that the college kids are often torn between academics and soccer–this alone demonstrates a major advantage of being a professional.

    I’m certainly not one of those who thinks MLS needs to go promotion-relegation next season and that college soccer should be abandoned altogether–this is obviously unreasonable (and impossible). But I do think it’s silly that Rongen thinks college players hold a major advantage over professionals who aren’t getting first-team minutes.

    Regarding Bernardo specifically, I was led to believe that his omission from the roster was not the result of a conflict with the club, but simply because he didn’t make the cut. This might be incorrect. Regardless, Rongen decided Subotic wasn’t good enough for the last U20 WC. He also picked Akpan (who did absolutely nothing in the tournament) over Zimmerman and Ferrari (Ferrari eventually made the cut due to Smith’s injury). He has a history of showing preference for college students over professional reserves. Personally, I think it’s silly.

    Before I end, I think it’s only right to admit my bias: I really dislike Thomas Rongen. Maybe it’s affecting my opinion on the matter, but I don’t think I’m being entirely unreasonable.


  • Ives

    Hector, what is it with you and the phrase “Gotcha”? Watch one too many Sarah Palin interviews? That’s the most nonsensical phrase around these days. We interviewed Bernardo, he said some things that were bound to cause a stir and we pointed them out. That’s not “Gotcha Journalism”, that is journalism.


  • This Guy

    If you train and develop in Italy you are bound to be a diver. I just hope he realizes that diving and flopping will get you nowhere with the American fans.


    You are a journalist with integrity and I never doubted you to be the trustworthy one in the conversation.


  • Deacon you are a >RETARD

    Giuseppe F. Rossi could learn a lesson or to from him

    Posted by: Deacon Palmer | March 02, 2009 at 05:27 PM


    I bet Ives wouldn’t delete this Retards Statement,


  • tony



    This kid gets more media attention then anyone his age. Its absurd, he is a talented young player. He deserves to choose where he wants to play , and we should all back off and hope he picks USA


  • Don

    You are right Ives. You were merely practicing journalism. Journalism, esp. sports journalism, is based on trying to get the interviewee to say or hint at something controversial that the interviewer can use to enhance the journalist’s status and income. Journalists are particularly good at posing these questions to young and naive people. What I like is how journalists get all huffy when somebody calls them on their arrogant and destructive behavior. They can dish it, but they can’t take it.


  • Brian

    this kid just needs to keep his mouth shut and play..the play will give him options..whether or not he wants to play with the usa or italy is up to him and should not be something fans need to worry about


  • DaveL

    Don = Idiot

    Bernardo was asked an honest question and gave an unfortunate answer. It’s not that big a deal really. Blaming the asker of the question is just dumb.


  • Mike Caramba

    “Gotcha Journalism”!

    I can’t believe Ives quoted Bernardo as saying he can see Russia from Italy. That was obviously taken out of context. And on a clear day–a really clear day–with a telescope, Mr. Bernardo’s statement is absolutely true!

    How dare you, Ives! This blog is downright un-American!


  • 4now

    It’s less the quote than the way in which it was framed originally, which is not featured here.

    Ives seemed to have called his bluff and the kit is pouting.

    He refers to himself in the third person on his website, it would seem.



  • Micronesia Justin

    I’m with Don. And on top of that…it was posted the day after Ravi’s piece on Soccernet. Not only is it just fanning the flames, but it throws Ravi under the bus…and Ravi is his colleague. Shoddy move.


  • Brett

    Keep him involved with the system and he will stay loyal.

    Drop him from the roster before a major tournament *cough*Subotic*cough* and he may jump ship.

    From the sound of it he is like Landon Donovan but with the mettle to succeed in Europe. With USA he is all but guaranteed to play in the World Cup. He would have a major struggle to make the Azzurri at his position.


  • Aquaman

    I think that the SBI article suggested more of an uncertainty in Bernardo’s selection than was implied by his quote. It’s just like any other kid when asked about what college they want to go to. They’ll say “I really want to go to University of Awesometown, but this is a big decision that will affect the rest of my life and want to see my options”. It’s an automatic answer of someone so young “I want to do this, but this is a big decision and I don’t know everything”. It doesn’t mean he won’t go where his heart originally directed him, he’s just trying to be a player (who plays in Italy) and not make anyone mad. That’s what pro-sports players usually try and do – make everyone like them. I think a little too much was dissected out of a comment from a kid who is trying not to come off as if he knows everything.


  • Ives

    Don, you are reaching so badly it’s not even funny. The question we asked is there, as is the answer. It is clear that we aren’t the only ones to draw the same conclusion from Vincenzo’s quotes. If you think this website is about trying to create controversy then you must not spend much time here.

    And Micronesia Justin, our story had nothing to do with Ravi Uhba’s story so I don’t get the point of the mention. I am not aware of all stories being written by other ESPN writers and GianFranco’s Bernardo piece was written the night before the Uhba piece came out and was posted to SBI just a few hours after the ESPN piece. The pieces were not written based on the same interview, nor do we know the timeline for both interviews. Given what I know about the timelines of ESPN stories I can say with pretty strong certainty that our answers, which came on Wednesday, were more recent.

    The fact that the stories conflict in no way throws Ravi Uhba “under the bus.” All it means is we were given conflicting statements from the same subject.


  • Ryan

    So he’s basically a smaller Brian Ching? Bradley will likely have him starting in WC 2010 then?


  • Scott A

    Hey Ives. In last Q&A you said you’ve never heard a legitimate coach used the term “center attacking midfielder”. Well Bernardo used it, that’s gotta count for something right? Maybe not


  • MVK

    “So he’s basically a smaller Brian Ching? Bradley will likely have him starting in WC 2010 then?”

    claims he has speed and agility and hes like 5’6″, nothing like Ching. More like Adu or Donovan maybe?

    Respect to this kid for clearing things up though.


  • Tommy H

    Hey Ives,

    Could you please leave the political cheap shots out. Not everyone supported the same candidate you did. Let’s keep it about soccer save the other stuff for the Daily Kos. Thanks


  • Mr Jones

    Hey Ives,

    Could you please leave the political cheap shots out. Not everyone supported the same candidate you did. Let’s keep it about soccer save the other stuff for the Daily Kos. Thanks

    Posted by: Tommy H |




  • Teddie Boy Eddie

    It’s really sad to continue to see people misunderstand and devalue journalism. Ives asked an honest question. The kid gave an answer, and then thought about what he said and decided to clarify. That’s hardly “gotcha journalism.”

    Keep up the good work, Ives. The interviews are greatly appreciated by a large number of us.


  • JMR

    Sorry Ives but I gotta side with the kid. You took his explanation of whether or not he “declared” something as the answer when the true answer to your interviewer’s direct question was right in his statement to your interviewer. Your interviewer’s question:

    Do you still feel the same way?

    Bernardo’s answer:

    I do feel the same way as I did back in 2007…

    Mountain out of a molehill is the way I read it and can explain why Bernardo feels like he was misrepresented. Is there a chance he would reconsider his original thoughts? Absolutely, but it depends on whether the U20 US team wants him. Would he reconsider if he does not get on the field with the U20’s this year? Absolutely. Would you blame him for that? Not I.


  • JMR

    Forgot to add that I would have really liked seeing the rest of the questions and answers the first time round.


  • DC Josh

    Again, we dissect every word spoken by a player.

    He sounds happy to be here.

    I’ve never heard of him, and don’t know if he is the next savior. I do hope he chooses the US, but what player would honestly choose the US over Italy?


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