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Movsisyan the latest to give up on USMNT dreams

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Yura Movsisyan wanted to play for the U.S. national team, and under a different set of circumstances, he could be wearing a United States uniform tonight for the U.S. team's friendly against Brazil.

Instead, Movsisyan has given up his quest to play for the United States and is preparing to make his debut for Armenia against Iran on Wednesday. Why? Sources close to Movsisyan told SBI that the former Real Salt Lake striker ultimately decided that he did not want to pass on a chance to begin an international playing career while he waited for the chance to be eligible for the United States.

Currently enjoying success with Danish club Randers after winning the 2009 MLS Cup with RSL, Movsisyan is a young striker with potential who U.S. coach Bob Bradley is a known admirer of. Unfortunately for Movsisyan, he isn't eligible to play for the United States.

Movsisyan is married to an American woman, and has secured a green card, but he is still at least three years away from being a U.S. citizen, meaning he would have had to wait three years to even be eligible to play for the United States. After initially planning to wait to quality for the United States before deciding on his international future, Movsisyan chose to accept the call when Armenia courted him.

Movsisyan isn't the first player to choose another country rather than waiting for USA eligibility.

Two years ago, former Chicago Fire central defender Bakary Soumare had hopes of eventually playing for the United States, but when he was faced with the prospects of waiting two or three more years before starting his international career, Soumare decided he was better off starting his international career immediately with Mali. Since then, Soumare has moved to French club Boulogne via transfer and has represented Mali in World Cup qualifying and at the African Cup of Nations.

Can you blame either play for their decisions? Not really, not when faced with possibility of waiting years for a chance that may not even come. In Movsisyan's case, he is a player who U.S. coach Bob Bradley has long admired. It was Bradley who was desperate to draft Movsisyan when he was Chivas USA head coach in 2006 only to have the Kansas City draft him one place earlier (Bradley consolation prize wound up being U.S. national team midfielder Sacha Kljestan).

Ultimately, Movsisyan's decision is a career move. He has enjoyed success since moving to Danish club Randers last winter, and playing for Armenia will mean a chance to play in European Championship qualifiers against teams like Russia, Ireland and Slovakia. That means more chances to be seen by European scouts, and a better chance to advance his career.

If U.S. fans want to blame somebody for the national team missing out on another player, it can really only point to the U.S. government and its process for citizenship. At a time when politicians seem to be looking for new ways to keep people from becoming U.S. citizens there is little chance that U.S. Soccer will be in position to pull strings and secure expedite citizenship for top prospects such as Movsisyan and Soumare, or other potential U.S. prospects such as Andy Najar and Rodney Wallace.

It's a frustrating situation for American soccer fans, especially when you consider that both Movsisyan and Soumare could be in uniform for tonight's USA-Brazil friendly, but it's the reality U.S. Soccer is faced with.


  1. I’m not acting like a crybaby, and I don’t take what you say personally. I just don’t necessarily feel like I have to take everything Ives says as gospel simply because this is his blog. I don’t think he expects anyone to.

    You didn’t call me out on anything. You’re upset because what I said was true, and I presented a reasonable argument for it.

    As for acting like a parrot, you seem to be acting like one yourself.

  2. “And maybe if YOU don’t like what I have to say, you should keep YOUR comments to yourself.”

    Can’t you be more original than simply repeating what I said?

    I just think you sound like a cry baby and I called you out on it. You’re proving me right with your response. Don’t take it personal.

  3. Yes it’s very ‘frustrating’ that the US doesn’t have an immigration policy that will grant citizenship to any person who is able to get a visa (or, opts for the ‘sneak in’ option). Please. (oh and please stop the commentary on 14th amendment. It was put in so the Democrats couldn’t realize their wish to ship off all the slaves back to Africa despite never having spent a day in Africa because their parents were removed against their will to work on Southern plantations again, against their will. We have kinda moved beyond that problem. It’s not that ‘nuts’ to float the idea of changing or repealing that amendment. We have changed them before folks and save for the Amendment changing how Senators are chosen, they have all been for the better.)

    The system is fine. Movsisyan has been here for over 10 years. It usually takes 5-10 years for ‘normal’ people to get citizenship and the US Soccer Fed has enough pull that they could lobby the State Department and they would absolutely expedite it. We do it for Olympic athletes all the time and baseball teams do it like it’s going out of style.
    The US Soccer Fed is just a ludicrous mess of an organization and doesn’t have a department dedicated to issues like this so they don’t use the pull they do have to their advantage and situations like this go to waste.

    Next and most importantly…who cares? Movsisyan is an OK player (Soumare was a bigger loss). I’d hardly call this a huge loss. He’s a fool to not wait 3 years if that’s all he has left on his wait. I mean that still leaves him a year to get into the WC picture which is not a big task if you are playing well. (Ask Gomez and Buddle)Armenia will NEVER make the World Cup in his lifetime. EVER. I will say that with as much certainty as I will ever say anything. If the ‘joy’ of getting his butt kicked in 6 group games (or however many they have now in UEFA) and getting ousted in qualifying every 4 years is that alluring to him, have fun and good luck.

    Finally, even if we speed up the citizenship process to be 6 months who is to say it is going to qualitatively change the team? Again, Movsisyan…an OK player at best. Soumare is decent but not better than all of our options. He would have been good for depth.
    The worse situation is people like Subotic and Rossi and the rest who were eligible who decide the US team isn’t for them and jump ship. That isn’t an immigration problem, it’s a US Soccer systemic problem.

  4. “Nothing is wrong with naturalization if it’s legitimate but the entire idea is to draw from a pool of players who have a strong bond with the country for whom the represent. What will separate international soccer from the club soccer if a player has only ever lived in the country for a short time or in some cases (Jermane Jones) have never even been here?”

    Jermaine Jones has lived here. He lived in Chicago and Greenwood, MS as a child. Also with your comment about “players who have a strong bond with the country for whom they represent”, who better than someone like Yura came here seeking asylum. People like him and Bakary Soumare would be people that are truly grateful to be an American, and not take for granted how lucky they are to live in this country.

  5. That’s funny. My wife’s best friend (born’n’bred US citizen) married a guy from Tblisi, Georgia and lived there for two years. They just moved to the US last year. The only problem they had was saving up the money to come here.

    To say that everyone has it that easy would clearly be a lie, but its also a load to say that it’s such a hardship to come here legally. So the solution to this issue is to slap all the legal residents and citizens in the face by just throwing our hands in the air and letting anyone and everyone come in and get the same rights as everyone else? I am very much a liberal, and I even I can’t stomach the notion that my taxes are eventually going to go towards giving tresspassers preferential treatment.

    America the refugee camp, here we come.

  6. This is all baloney. We have a huge backlog of applications for visas and legal immigration. Is that because of some grand conspiracy or is it maybe just possible that there are TONS of people that want to come here?

    Supply and demand, people. There’s only so many requests immigration officials can handle at once.

    What are they supposed to do, just screw it all and let anyone and everyone in? That’s a flat out dangerous policy (just look at 1860’s New York City…). Not to mention a total slap in the face of every person who came here on a legal visa or as a legal immigrant who went through all that hard work just to find out they could have snuck in like a criminal and gotten the same rights.

    Let’s just go ahead and ignore our own sovereign laws… that’s the route for us!

  7. Armenia begins Euro qualifying this fall…I am sure that Armenia will look to cap Yura in official competition soon to solidfy his international future.

    Yura would have been a nice prospect for the USMNT, but I can’t blame him for choosing to get on the international stage now, (in Europe), rather than waiting for 2-3 years to maybe get called by the USMNT. By playing international football against top European competition in front of European scouts, it will only help his career. I wish him the best…

  8. Brian, your analysis makes perfect sense–and is what I said on a post earlier–but it doesn’t quite jive with FIFA’s rules. They make it fairly clear that friendlies don’t matter. I think what you are saying is more logical, fwiw.

    Article 18(1)(2): He has not played a match (either in full or in part) in an official competition at “A” international level for his current Association, and at the time of his first full or partial appearance in an international match in an official competition for his current Association, he already had the nationality of the representative team for which he wishes to play.

    It’s hard–of course–to find a definition of “official competition” but from p. 15 it looks like it doesn’t refer to friendlies (3 subs=official, 6 subs=other matches…not too definitive), and from the way this is enforced I think we can agree that official competition means q’s, confed, cups, etc..

    I realize this material predates the 2009 change, but that change only affected the 21 y.o. provision.

  9. True, people are free to say whatever they like. But for Ives to complain about the comments on this article NOT being soccer-related, and too politically driven when the last two paragraphs of his article are CLEARLY political (with a clearly negative vibe, which you seem to think is not political) is ridiculous.

    “If U.S. fans want to blame somebody for the national team missing out on another player, it can really only point to the U.S. government and its process for citizenship.”

    He’s not telling the fans to blame the government? REALLY?

    And he himself said that he was debating not allowing anymore comments because they were becoming too political. Yeah, it’s not China, but, again, don’t inject politics (especially concerning a timely issue such as this) into a discussion if you don’t want people to respond.

    And maybe if YOU don’t like what I have to say, you should keep YOUR comments to yourself.

  10. To further illustrate my point: for the same reason that Neven Subotic could never have played for Germany, Yura can never play for the US.

    Neven did not have German citizenship at the time of his first US youth cap, and Yura will not have US citizenship at the time of his first Armenia cap (friendly or official).

    Youth caps, and senior friendly caps don’t “cap-tie” you if you’re a dual national, but they prevent you from playing for countries you didn’t have citizenship in at the time of the cap.

  11. I think you’re mostly right. One thing I think you might be incorrect on is the notion that a friendly doesn’t “cap-tie” someone who isn’t a dual national at the time (i.e. Yura Movsisyan). It was my understanding that if a player represents a country at any level (youth or senior) in any type of game (official or a friendly) and doesn’t have dual citizenship at the time he is tied to that country.

    Subotic’s decision came before FIFA’s rule change in the summer of 2009. The old rule was that if you were a dual/multi national allowed your one time switch before your 21st birthday. Neven played for our U17 and U20 squads. Prior to his 21st birthday Neven was still eligible to play for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and the US. He was eligible for Bosnia and Serbia because when he got his first cap with the US youth teams he had citizenship in both those countries. He was however not eligible for Germany or Croatia because he did not have citizenship in those countries at the time of his first US youth cap.

    As for Edgar Castillo and Jermaine Jones, both of them had US citizenship at birth. Jones played in 4 games (not sure if they were official or friendlies) for Germany U20, and in 3 friendlies for Germany at the senior level. It’s my understanding that Jones can play for the US because he has US Citizenship at the time and his senior level German caps were friendlies and youth level games whether they’re official (qualifiers for Euro or World Cup) or not don’t matter for dual nationals. Same with Edgar Castillo. He was made his senior level debut in a friendly against Colombia, then went on to play for Mexico in the 2008 Olympic Qualifiers, and a few more senior level friendlies. He was able to play for the US because he has US Citizenship at the time of his first Mexico cap, his Mexico senior matches weren’t official, and his youth team stuff doesn’t matter.

    As for Yura, he does not have US citizenship. It is my understanding that if he plays for Armenia in this friendly, he is gone to us forever. You’re saying that he is not “cap-tied” until he plays in an official match for Armenia like Euro Qualifiers. I’m saying that the ruling that allowed Jermaine Jones, Edgar Castillo, and also Arturo Alvarez to switch does NOT apply to him because he is not a dual national.

    If you think about it, it makes sense. Why would FIFA want a bunch of former Brazil youth players or Brazilians that only got capped in senior level friendlies to be eligible for some other country they really have no ties to that can just expedite them citizenship. Basically if Roger or Eduardo, had ever been youth capped or friendly capped for Brazil, they couldn’t have played for Poland or Croatia, respectively.

  12. He didn’t make a political statement, he stated a fact about what’s happening with the federal government and now people want to twist it into something else. And deleting comments of political nature…we’re not in China so there is no sensible reason to do that. People are free to say whatever they’d like, no matter how dumb it might sound. If you don’t like what he has to say then maybe you shouldn’t make comments about it.

  13. He did not say that fans should “blame the federal government”. You’re not even close. Maybe you should be a little more clear in your reading before attempting to write a response.

  14. Los Angeles is fine, thanks. Woe unto me if I’m ever forced to live in a place where tamales, korean bbq, and bubble tea aren’t readily available.

  15. I don’t think we need any naturalized players unless they get citizenship through the current process. For a country of 330 million to worry about a few players who aren’t eligible is silly.

    And good for Mali and Armenia! These are countries with smaller player pools who will be greatly benefited having more players who have played outside their borders and are eligible for their team.

    Nothing is wrong with naturalization if it’s legitimate but the entire idea is to draw from a pool of players who have a strong bond with the country for whom the represent. What will separate international soccer from the club soccer if a player has only ever lived in the country for a short time or in some cases (Jermane Jones) have never even been here?

    I won’t be protesting with signs outside of the stadium if we play with ringers but I certainly won’t get “excited” that someone chose us. It should come from the heart, not in search of playing time or because it “will help their chances” to catch on with a bigger club. Here’s some advice if he wants to transfer – “light up the Danish league and you’ll get bought by a bigger club”.

  16. If you don’t want politics brought into a soccer discussion, you shouldn’t have included politics in the article. Or you should have put a disclaimer at the end stating that any comments of a political nature will be deleted, ignored, blah blah blah.

    You opened the door. I think you should be happy that people actually read that far into the article.

  17. Not at all.

    FIFA required that players be citizens of the nations for which they play. Regis was a US citizen. Of course, each nations sets its own citizenship laws.

    Regis was eligible for expedited US citizenship due to a loophole in US naturalization law: His wife’s job abroad was in some way related to a US government grant, which allowed him to forgo the usual residency requirement. I believe the USSF helped her to find this position.

  18. If you’re not ticked by the end of this post, there’s something wrong with you…Or maybe something right with you.

    1. Who cares? He was out after curfew.
    2. Derka, Derka, Derka. Muhammad, jihad.
    3. Why are you only naming black players, Rev. Wright?
    4. Is football for pansies because they wear pads, or because they fake injury? I forget.
    5. Who cares about relegation. Drop the salary cap and switch to a Sept-May schedule.
    6. He’s washed up because he’s older than his birth cert says.
    7. He’s only the coach because his son is the best CM in the pool.
    8. He’s only a staring CM because his dad is the coach.
    9. Only twits tweet.
    10. Vile stuff. Mexi-Coke is much better.

  19. BTW I read a time back that Nervy Castillo of Mexico, the Greece National team wanted him to play for them and they were gonna give him honorary Greek citizen ship to play for the Greece National team, but Castillo declined.

  20. You will never “secure” the border in the sense that you mean it. It cannot be done, so give it up. The Israelis can’t secure the Gaza-Egypt border, and that’s only five miles long. You want to secure something 394x longer? I don’t know the solution to the whole problem, but I know for certain that trying to build an impenetrable fence will fail in a very public and expensive fashion.

    Build a wall… Willy Brandt would be amused.

  21. In response to SBI, Japan has a more stringent immigration and citizenship process than the US. And the wording of your article does infer that you think the US should expedite the citizen process for potential players of the USMNT.

  22. Right on, Drew. Jus sanguinis countries like France, Germany, or Spain never have problems with illegal immigrants.

    Oh, wait….

  23. If he came here when he was in high school but he didn’t get a green card until he married, then what status did he have? Don’t you come to the US and get a green card at the same time to become a resident. But regardless, I mean that is the law and process that we have in place. If it needs to be change US Soccer should try to ask politicians to change the law, etc. But as far as losing people, I mean it goes both ways. Other countries lose players to the US cause they also don’t get a chance to play (Jones).


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