Top Stories

Name That Player: An American influence

It’s time for a little quiz. Name the two male soccer players who have played high school and college soccer in the United States and currently lead their professional first-division leagues in scoring.

Think you know the answer?

If you said Landon Donovan, who leads MLS in goals with 16, then you are wrong. Donovan never played a minute of college soccer.

There are two players who qualifying for the distinction, though one shouldn’t be a surprise to those of you who follow CONCACAF Abroad. If you said Darryl Roberts, the Trinidad & Tobago striker and former Liberty University standout who is in a multi-way tie for the Turkish First Division lead in goals with two, you are right. If the name sounds familiar to Toronto FC fans it is because Roberts was a supplemental draft pick in 2007 for TFC before he chose to go to Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam.

So who is the other player? The answer might surprise you, but maybe not as much as the league the player plays in:


The players is Vedad Ibisevic and the former St. Louis University standout is currently tied for the German Bundesliga lead in goals with four. The Hoffenheim striker has been red-hot this season for the newly-promoted squad.

For a little background, Ibisevic spent two years playing high school soccer in St. Louis after his family moved here from Bosnia after a brief stop in Switzerland. After a stellar freshman season at St. Louis University, Ibisevic signed with French club Paris St. German and bounced around Europe before settling at Hoffenheim, which he helped gain promotion last season.

Those of you wondering whether he could have played for the United States can relax. Ibisevic was on the Bosnia-Herzegovina radar for some time, having played for it’s U-21 squad in early 2004. He made his debut for the Bosnian national team in March of 2007.

Whether we’re talking Ibisevic or Roberts, it is interesting to think of the kind of talent that is playing in this country right now that could emerge elsewhere as stars years from now.


  1. Ives,

    Great topic.

    First off, folks need to simmer down about these guys not playing for the US. Neither Roberts nor Ibisevic were or are US citizens.

    That makes playing for the US a moot point.

    Folks may wish that they did play for the US and that’s fair but to blame the USSF because some non-US citizens who used to live in the US don’t play for the US is a bit extreme.

    What was the USSF to do, force the players to stay in the country till they got naturalized so they could play for the US?

    Second point – I don’t know if it leads the respective league in question, but Carlos Ochoa, who went to HS in So Cal and played college ball at Azusa Pacific, has scored several goals for Monterrey this year. He even earned a call-up from SGE.

    Like Roberts, he isn’t a US citizen and is cap-tied to El Tri after playing for them in the Gold Cup a few years back.

  2. Angel, huh?

    Yes, perhaps there is a problem identifying talent young in the US, perhaps there’s not. I’m certainly no apologist for USSoccer. I suspect I might even share some of your critisicms the president and coaches (though I’m not sure Klinsman and Hiddink are the answers). I’m also no expert on scouting HS players, but I’m guessing that scouting isn’t an exact science.

    Actually, I think perhaps you didn’t get my point, which is that, even if USSoccer were perfect in evaluating young talent, it’s arrogant to assume that in cases where a young player has a choice of national teams, that he would definitely choose to play for the US if offered the chance.

    Peace, out.

  3. Did everyone forget that Clint Dempsey lead the league in scoring for Fulham in mid September last year? Played for Furman as well….

  4. it doesn’t matter the point is that we let good players to slip away, we don’t have to give everyone a citizenship right away. or else Emilio would be playing already for the USA, Plus not every country is doing it.. Anyway please we need a good coach, good Scouting, better President of the USSF. and why not a good MLS commish. to add it. IF YOU LOVE FOOTBALL SOCCER YOU KNOW THAT WE NEED SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTAND SOCCER, LOVE IT, BLEED THE GAME AND MORE KLINSMAN PLEASE COME BACK AND BE OUR PRESIDENT OF THE USSF. AND BRING HIDDINK AS THE USNMT COACH..

  5. Skinn & Steve, You don’t get it of course this country is big and yes population is wide but come on, that why we have kids playing in High School and College, Belive me is very different in other country why cause the way of living is different kids have to start working in young age and the don’t go to place to get notice, Here in the USA we have that chance of getting notice, the school system bring a lot of notice from Scout but the problem here is that we don’t have a president of US soccer Association that knows or have a idea of how to run a good system, not accouting an Idiot coach that don’y know whats going on, passing new talent just to keep the same old washout players.

  6. to Seth –

    brazil misses a TON of players…its just that the ones they choose are so good that the one that slip through the cracks arent gonna lower the level of the team…there are a ton of naturalized brazilians playing for other countries because they thought/knew they would never get a look from brazil

  7. Another potential USMNT standout bypassed and inevitably lost thanks to the poor scouting of the USSF which only cares about being a cash cow and not a drop to making the US a world futbol power.

    The same USSF that never tried to get Rossi & Castillo and will most likely lose Subotic (he scored again over the weekend…).

    The same USSF that gives us Bob Bradley who gives us Eddie Johnson and not Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore. Oh by the way, Eddie Johnson only played 4 minutes w/ Cardiff City while Freddy has played more minutes at Monaco….don’t give me any excuses about playing time at the club level!

    The same USSF approach that the USMNT plays not to lose rather than plays to win.

    The same USSF that has Sunil Gulati setting back futbol back to the days before Italia 1990!

    The loss of Ibisevic is another tip (and there are so many obvious ones) of the iceberg known as the USSF!

  8. Let’s put this guy aside as he only played in the US for a grand total of 3 years.

    Anyone who knows the US soccer system knows that if you are poor or are a minority, the deck is stacked solidly against you. Think Little League parents are bad, Soccer is 100X worse in this country.

  9. our country is to big is the biggest load of dung ever. how come Brazil never misses a player. their country is just as big land mass wise, plus has more people playing soccer than we do and they don’t miss a player.

  10. To everyone complaining about the USMNT couch and scouts.

    Are the 2 guys mentioned in the article holder of U.S. citizenship?

    Just because you played H.S. and/or college soccer in the U.S. does not mean you have citizenship. And without it you can’t play for the Nat. team.

  11. Furthering timpramas’ point, how exactly would Vedad get citizenship spending only three years in the US? There’s just no way short of marrying an American.

  12. RK – I think all this blame first stems with the non-hiring of klinsman, Houlier, hiddink, that everything started to snowball. I know that I personally am at the point of not really trusting the USSF and whenever that midget runs his mouth it just annoys the piss out of me

  13. Just because someone plays soccer at a U.S. high school or college, does NOT mean the player is eligible to play for the US National Team. So some posters need to chill with the “we let another one slip away” posts. If the point is to go out and find good players and make them citizens so they can play for the US, then we can broaden our search far beyond our borders to recruit such players. I’m not sure that should be encouraged.

  14. Mike is right. Darryl Roberts did play high school soccer in North Carolina. That means there are two players who played high school and college soccer in the United States who lead their first-division professional leagues in scoring.

  15. Skinn, and the rest of you level-headed bloggers, thank you…I’m so sick of the reactionaries that insist that US Soccer is in shambles because some player decided to play for another country.

  16. Well, I’ll add that he can certainly play for Bosnia if he wants. After all, that’s his heritage. However, they’ve got about as a good of a chance of winning a World Cup as we do, probably less. He’ll be playing for national pride, and that’s about it.

  17. Nice write up Ives.

    This comment isn’t aimed at anyone in particular, but a reaction to an accumulation of posts over the last 18 months.

    One thing that bugs me about the whole mentality of either blaming US soccer officials for “letting guys slip past” or hating on players for choosing to play for another country is the arrogance of it. In the first case, the assumption is that OF COURSE he would of chose to play for the US if only given the chance; in the second case the arrogance is accompanied by anger (how DARE he choose to play elsewhere, traitor). It’s not a just a US thing either–the same responses are typical in Canada with regard to Hargreaves or the younger De Guzman.

    The world’s not what it once was. Man-made borders don’t always contain all the identities a person holds. And in some cases those might not matter when careers and personal goals take precedent (though, I’m not suggesting this is always the case).

    I’m not sure where I’m going with this, I just don’t know that being angry with a national program or an individual makes much sense.

  18. I actually played against him in high school (he went to Roosevelt, I went to Gateway Tech) so it is really awesome to see him finally break through and get consistent first time action professionally. He scored a C. Ronaldo free-kick against my squad from 40yds, top corner. Kid’s got talent, definitely.

  19. Before everyone rails away at US Soccer for ‘letting another one get away’ please at least acknowledge that at some level this is a consequence of a numbers game and the size of our country (not to mention reasonably open borders and propensity to serve as a haven for those facing hardship in their own countries for whatever reason).

    If you conisder that each soccer federation can have U-age group teams at the standard levels of U-15, U-17, U-19, U-21, and U-23 and each of these teams is roughly going to be able to give a role with onr of those teams to 25 players at a given time. Then a federation can offer 150 roster slots to players it hopes will eventually become stars of their National team at any time.

    Below are the populations of 10-24 years olds for 4 countries as of 2006:

    Bosnia-Herzegovina 800,000

    Brazil 51,700,000

    Germany 14,000,000

    United Kingdom 11,700,000

    United States 64,400,000

    Source: PRB World’s Youth 2006 Data Sheet

    Even if you look at the numbers through the lens that half of those are girls (just for teh sake of examining the Men’s Team Pool) and many won’t play soccer (say 10% in this age group do – just for arguments sake) I think it is clear just how difficult it is to catch all the future stars when you can offer so little opportunity to such a large pool of potential players especially when in the case laid out above and Subotic they are in and out of the country for a relatively short period of time.

    Only 150 in 3.2 million will have that opportunity at any moment.

    Players will always be missed, and they are more likely to be scooped up by nations where the sport is higher profile, offers a greater potentil to succeed internationally (Subotic – Germany), and have smaller pools to worry about domestically.

    Thank you for your time. I’m bored at work and I approved this message.

  20. Ives~

    Darryl Roberts did indeed play high school soccer. He graduated from Wesleyan Christian Academy before heading to Liberty.


  21. With MLS teams setting up their academies, I thought the college ball is now irrelevant….

    Perhaps the U-20 coach was right in leaving off Subotic in favor of college players.

  22. See Ives,

    This is what upset me about the USMNT Coach and his Scouting Crew, they let a lot of young guys that can do good for the National Team or for the Good of Football soccer in America. Why we never got this guy into our Sub17 – Sub21 when he was playing Soccer in High School or in College..Why we let guys a Subutic, G.Rossi, Castillo, Padilla and maybe there will be more to come and will never know until either they are playing aboard or playing for other country that look that they care about these kids… Come on Ives whats going on with this US soccer Association of America. Please let not loose more players.


Leave a Comment