There are few things that get American sports fans more worked up than state pride.
Whether you're a Jersey boy or Cali dude, chances are you won't miss a chance to debate the merits of your state's best soccer players.
With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to ask readers to name their Best XI from players born and/or bred in your state (old school SBI Mafia members will remember the last time I did this). The criteria is simple. If a player was born AND lived at least five years in a state before he turned 18, then he qualifies for that state. Also, a player has to have lived five years in a state or played club ball in a state for five years BEFORE the age of 18. Simply being born in a state isn't enough, so no Brede Hangeland for Texas (sorry folks, he lived there for less than two years as an infant before moving to his family's native Norway).
Since it wasn't clear to some of you, this team is for current ACTIVE players, not an All-Time Best XI, though that could be a good exercise for another day.
I will get things started with Team New Jersey, which is a pretty good squad and would be among the favorites in a hypothetical tournament of states (California would have to be the favorite). Here is the Garden State's Best XI:
——Jemal Johnson —–Jozy Altidore———–Giuseppe Rossi–
Eddie Gaven——————————————–Nick Labrocca
——————-Danny Szetela—–Michael Bradley—————-
Jossimar Sanchez——Gregg Berhalter———-Jason Hernandez
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
About the selections: I'm sure folks in Florida will object to Altidore being on Team New Jersey, but he was born in Jersey and lived in Jersey the required five years between his early years as a toddler and his two plus years playing for the Red Bulls. This doesn't mean Altidore can't be included in a Team Florida.
The same applies to Michael Bradley, who has actually called himself a Jersey Boy to me in the past, but who lived a good portion of his younge life in Illinois.
Those wondering about Jemal Johnson. He was born and raised in Paterson until he was five, before moving to England. He's the one player on the list who didn't spend any of his formative years in Jersey. If you think he's too much of a reach then you could also look to Alecko Eskandarian, who is the first player off the Team New Jersey bench. Others in the running include Stephen King and Vincenzo Bernardo. Someone asked about Gabriel Ferrari. While he did play high school soccer at St. Benedict's, he is a New Yorker.
The only non-pro on this team is U.S. Under-18 defender Jossimar Sanchez, who helps fill the void at New Jersey's biggest weakness, defense. Sanchez is the real deal, easily the best high school defender I've ever seen and a future star with a bright future. If someone has an established pro they want to recommend for the spot, I am definitely open to making the change.
Now it's your turn. Try and name your State's Best XI of active players (pros and youth national team players are eligible). California, Illinois, Florida and Texas are just some of the states I can see boasting some quality lineups.
Let's hear them. Who makes your state's Best XI?
CLEARLY CALI WINS… IN CALI V. 49 OTHER U.S., CALI WINS…
PLEASE DON’T LET CALI SECEDE!!!
MF: JUSTIN MAPP
You can add Brian Mullan, Aaron Pitchkolan, David Wagenfuhr, James Riley, Daniel Wasson, and Jay Nolly (GK) for Colorado.
F: Felix Garcia
F: Kenny Cooper
M: Clint Dempsey
M: Jose Francisco Torres
M: Arturo Alvarez
M: Lee Nguyen/Brek Shea
D: Jose Burciaga
D: Drew Moor
D: Nick Garcia
D: Hunter Freeman
Plenty of young attacking talent but lacking some bite in the midfield and I can’t come up with a GK to save my life. And I know Cooper was born in Baltimore, but there’s no way you’re keeping him off of Team Texas.
All Texas Team
Goalkeeper: Kenny Cooper Sr., Matt Wideman
Defender: Drew Moor, Nick Garcia, Jose Burciaga, Ugo Ihemelu
Midfield: Ramon Nunez, Stuart Holden, Arturo Alvarez, Jose Francisco Torres
Forward: Kenny Cooper, Clint Dempsey
I present the all Utah team:
Justin Braun and…..me?
This team would be Texas with out retirees. I can not think of a Keeper from Texas off the top of my head. And I know there were a couple of Texas kids who were in the final four this year that might also have come out but can not remember their names.
(Fwds) Kenny Cooper, Clint Dempsey
(Mids) Stuart Holden, José Torres, Davy Arnaud, Lee Nguyen
(Defs) Zak Whitebread, Drew Moor, Nick Garica, Omar Gonzalez
(Rsvs) Jared Jefferies, Hunter Freeman, José Burciaga Jr, Arturo Alvarez, Brek Shea
kris minton ???^^
haha that guy went to my high school,hes a year older than me (hes a sophmore)
Jason Moore, Marshall Leonard, and Danny Care could be added to the GA list of MLSers. Moore was considered a better talent than Wolff when they both played at Parkview High School.
Some more Maryland guys…
got my info from US Soccer offical site so these are capped, called up players for USMNT, but only goes back to 2004.
will have to do more digging to fill out a MD roster using MLS or older players.
GKs: Scott Garlick, Dusty Hudock, Luis Robles
DFs: Greg Vanney, Evan Whitfield, Brad Evans
Not sure if Pablo Mastroeni counts or not. Otherwise, take two of the GK’s and put them up front
Active players from Michigan
GK – Steve Clark (on trial with RSL)
LB – Dave Hertel (on trial with RSL)
CB – Mike Holody (Colorado Rapids)
CB – Greg Janicki (DC United)
RB – Nate Craft (Rochester)
MF – Besmir Bega (KF Tirana, Albania)
MF – Nate Norman (Carolina Railhawks)
MF – Ryan Alexander (Valasunds, Sweden)
ST – Doug DeMartin (KC Wizards)
ST – Jacob Peterson (Colorado Rapids)
ST – Simon Omekanda (Union St. Gillois, Belgium)
who is jossimar sanchez?
Got a couple more High School All Americans from Missouri signed to play for SLU and Indiana… don’t know how productive they’ll be in the future however.
Also, I forgot Pat Noonan.
Any other MO supporters out there?
dirty_jerz stand up! glad to see reyna ISN’T on team jersey, but i would go further and put fat tony as GK sub, seeing as though this is just “Best XI.” i admit the only person i never heard of is danny szetela, so i would replace him with tab ramos, only cuz i know him.
Yeah, not too sure about an all-Louisiana XI. Karl already mentioned Jason Kreis, Joe Lapira, and Jason Garey. The only other name I can find is Jared Montz, who played with the Puerto Rico Islanders in ’07.