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Movsisyan the latest to give up on USMNT dreams

Yura (

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. btw, politicians are trying to keep babies born by illegal aliens from being us citizens….im not sure what that has to do with Movsisyan but i guess i could understand where politics intervenes a bit here

  2. Ives – You’ll have to find a replacement to your 23 player squad for the 2014 WC you posted last month. Since you had Yura making the 23. Sorry

  3. i remember warning alot of idiots that he may not play for the US and getting the response

    “yeah, like hes going to play for Armenia….”


  4. 11. Eddie Johnson- is he still young! or a second-rate player for life?

    12. is US a world soccer power yet?

    13. is the Mexican league better than MLS?

  5. Inca Cola is awful… had it when I was in Peru. Just take lots of yellow coloring, lots more corn syrup and some carbonated water and you have the worst soda in the world- and that’s saying a lot considering the garbage that’s out there.

    I’d take Brazilian Guarana cola any day!

  6. he came from Azerbaijan, as an ethnic Armenian- similar to Subotic (ethnic Serb from Bosnia)… escaping ethnic persecution as a minority…maybe Ibisevic was in the same boat, I don’t recall…

  7. Scott47, Yura is good enough to be considered for the USMNT. He is not Usain Bolt or Michael Jordan type athlete, but he can play at an international level.

  8. @ Alex
    Part of the concern with regards to immigration is the ILLEGAL part of it. Secondly, my grandparents came from Poland and assimilated into this country, learned the language and the incorporated the rules of society that existed at that time. Thirdly the “jobs no one wants” is a complete misnomer. The immigrants (illegal or otherwise) get grossly underpaid and receive few benefits for the work they are doing. I view it as businesses abusing the employees.

    Great stuff – no facts – standard ranting of a extremist.

    You are right – it is all politics. The Dems don’t want to address it because of the upcoming election, the REPs use it as a wedge issue.

    Secure the border – Lets play soccer/football/futbol!

  9. Great point fieldsy.

    But what of all those guys born in France or Germany representing the country of their parents? Sure some is for heritage sake, some is cause they couldn’t actually get a shot for France or Germany or elsewhere.

  10. It wasn’t covered here, but I gave up my quest to make the US Nat Team too.

    I am not Armenian, but I just give up.

    ( my attempt to and humor in an attempt to take the politics out of this thread )

  11. The argument that same laws and timelines should apply to profesional athletes as to Joe the plumber has some appeal. This is our current official immigration policy for this country, but other countries do it differently and it happens to benefit their soccer teams. The problem is our immigration laws are riddled with all sorts of exceptions. If we allow somebody to buy his way into citizenship by investing over a million dollars into US economy, why not merely expedite citizenship applications for a handful of athletes that could help our national team.

  12. The David Regis thing was different, back then FIFA didnt require you to have citizenship of the nation you played for, just some sort of green card or laissez passer or permanant residence. Now FIFA has made it harder for foreigners to play for their new nations national team because you have to be a full citizen now.

  13. This site definitely needs to veer away from the political crap. That’s a guaranteed way to steer clear if all we’re going to hear are the Glenn Becks and Michael Moores.

    It was a business decision, and like Ives said, in all likelihood a better one for him professionally.

    (SBI-People seem eager to turn this whole thing into a political debate. I’ll take partial blame since I brought up immigration and current political climate, but those absolutely pertain to this particular subject. Unfortunately some people can’t help but want to pull out the soap boxes when certain subjects come up. At this point I’m ready to cut off comments on this post if it’s going to completely veer away from any soccer talk.)

  14. Anyone else have an ad on the right for online USA Immigration Services now? I swear I’m legal

    (SBI-That’s a Google ad and if you’ve spent time surfing immigration sites and such chances are your computer helped Google target such an ad to your particular computer. Scary, but that’s how those Google ads work.)

  15. Alex, I’m not a Republican or a “right-winger”, but your assessment is simply uninformed. There’s a big difference between an immigrant and an illegal alien. Immigrants are those who come to this nation legally, as you referenced.

    What laws like the proposed one in Arizona are aimed at is stemming the tide of illegal aliens, the ones who enter the country, don’t pay taxes, siphon off those who do, and whose presence here encourages less-than-scrupulous employers to hire people under the table, thereby bypassing paying taxes themselves.

    The media has skewed public perception of this by repeatedly referring to illegal aliens as immigrants, which paints an incorrect picture of the situation. Al_OC is correct – it’s not a Republican/Democrat issue – it’s a political game to these people who are out simply trying to save their cushy jobs in Washington.

  16. As a concerned and proud citizen of this great country, I too am astonished that repealing the 14th amendment is being discussed. I don’t think it is based in race as much as political posturing. Both extremes of the political spectrum make outlandish statements that can be viewed by their opponents as derogatory, divisive and demeaning. It happens everyday and depending on where you stand(or get your news)you can find it. Something has to be done for the those that want the better life for which our parents or forefathers/mothers came here. Realistic solutions need to be developed and we can hope that a middle ground can be found.

    I hope that middle ground will include special provisions for professional footballers above all others.

  17. Replying more to Ives than to Ben here, but there’s been a lot of postings here that have suggested exactly that. I think Ben’s well aware that you didn’t say that, Ives, but a review of most of the posts above shows that probably 10 percent of them do make some reference.

  18. Who cares? Movsisyan is good, maybe could be great, but I wouldn’t make him a starter against Brazil, and I bet that’s his thinking as well. He probably realizes that with the depth of the US talent pool he’ll probably always be a bit player or a Gold Cup starter, and so why not play for a national team that will make him a starter for exciting Euro qualifiers?

    Any player that feels confident that they’ll earn a starting spot with the US national team will wait the five years. Even if you’re not really committed to the concept of being an American national, the money you could earn from merchandising, sponsorships, and overall media exposure would make it worthwhile (assuming that your other option isn’t Germany).

    Existing citizenship requirements are tough, especially because the government doesn’t care about soccer, but lamenting the loss of Movsisyan to Armenia by way of criticizing our existing immigration laws seems like a stretch. They’re f’ed up, but try becoming a German citizen, or even a British citizen. Five years residency, a commitment to continue working in Britain or for a British company, and moral/competency tests. It’s pretty much the same. The only difference is that the Home Secretary can grant exemptions on a case by case basis, so welcome to England Kaspar Schmeichel (and yes, I realize that Schmeichel actually has a personal commitment to Denmark. Imagine that, a national player that’s not simply a mercenary!).

  19. @ IVES “It’s a frustrating situation for American soccer, 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”……REALLY IVES?? A country with the size of our population and you find frustrating that we have to depend on imports?? The USA is one of the easier countries to immigrate. What is frustrating that we can not get our best athletes to play soccer not because some players have to follow the process to play for the USA.

  20. Does Armenia has birthright citizenship for illegal aliens? The answer is no. The fact is Canada and US are the only countries in the “developed world” to give birthright citizenship automatically at birth. Sorry if that hurts some feelings.

  21. Jason, your ignorance with regards to the Iroquois lacrosse team is showing…

    The Iroquois were trying to exit and re-enter the country on their native Haudenosaunee passports. These passports in most cases were HAND-WRITTEN, yet the Iroquois insisted they should be treated the same as authentic passports. They were offered FREE United States passports to be expedited to them (when does that ever happen?) and the Iroquois rejected that.

    I live near Iroquois land, and they want zero part of being American citizens. It has nothing to do with being born here in their case. They feel they have sovereignty and should be treated as their own separate nation.

    You’re comparing apples and oranges here. One must WANT to be a citizen to be a citizen, regardless of where they are born.

  22. There’s only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures and the Dutch.

  23. @William the Terror – actually Mitch O’Connell and Lindsey Graham came out last week and said they thought the 14th amendment was outdated and needed to be changed.

  24. After telling the national governments not to interfere with their soccer federations and teams (France, Nigeria, ect), Fifa would have a very hard time dictating the same governments how to run their immigration policy.

  25. Rocco..good one. Let me add to your list:
    6. Freddy Adu
    7. Bob Bradley
    8. Michael Bradley
    9. Tweeting
    10. Inca Cola (I’m out of ideas; so, this one’s for you, Ives)

  26. Let the immigration debate begin! But, seriously, SBI has raised a legitimate issue. Other countries have procedures for expediting citizenship applications for elite athletes that want to join their national soccer team, but we don’t. This puts US soccer federation at a big competitive disadvantage from other federations (France, Italy, etc). Also, because Movsysyan is married to a US citizen his case is the easiest and fastest case for naturalization, but he still has to wait several years before being eligible for US citizenship (I think the total time to wait even under this favorable scenario) is about 5 years or so). Losing Movsysyan is not the end of the world, but the problem is systemic. What if we had a trully world class player getting frustrated over having to wait for his US citizenship, while being getting an invitation from another country to play for them immediately?

  27. I suspect that most of the guys in Wales would give their eye teeth to have a chance to play for a team like Germany or Brazil…. but they were born and raised in Wales and represent that country proudly.

    I’m not arguing the case for national loyalty…. I’m arguing against the opinion (by Ives) that it was somehow a “career” move. Hmmmmm, how many superstars have come from Armenia? Love all those ads on television with those swarthy, hairy men and the manly shampoo. Playing for the Armenian National Team might gain him a bit more noteriety, but hardly a career shaping move.

    (SBI-It was absolutely a career move. If he could play for the USA tomorrow he’d kick down an Armenian flag to go shake Bob Bradley’s hand. He won’t say that now obviously because he’s made the decision he’s made, but you’re kidding yourself if you think he ultimately played for Armenia because of some bustling pride (and no, that’s not to suggest that people can’t be proud of being Armenian. In this case, that’s hardly the leading factor in his decision). And whether you believe it or not, having a chance to play in Euro and World Cup qualifiers against bigger European countries absolutely opens doors and puts him in front of scouts who might not have normally seen him if he was playing in zero internationals.)

  28. No, I’m telling him that I have no interesting in reading that crap on this list. I come here for soccer and soccer alone. For the record, I happen to somewhat agree with Ives on this. Noting his reasons for his decision was good reporting. Offering an opinion on it is editorializing. Frankly, it’s insulting that he cites a few blowhards who will be shot down in congress and in the courts as consensus.

    I’ll tell you something else I don’t appreciate. Since he opened the door to this, the second someone called him on it AND his views, he told them to just leave (a disturbing habit of his). Wow, way to filter out anything you don’t agree with and anyone who happens to call you on your views. Immature and, frankly, disappointing. instead of simply responding and offering clarification he offers derision and the door.

    Your opinion on Movsisyan is noted and not entirely disagreed with…. I just don’t think that, long-term (four years in this case), he had much of a chance of making the team for the next WC.

  29. It’s politics, not Republicans or Democrats.

    Remember, Bush tried to push thru an immigration reform, but came up short in Congress (at the time, Republicans were the majority in both houses).

    Now that we have a Democratic president and congress is controlled by Democrats, not a single democrat tries to even put a bill out there. Why? Because they all want to save their own asses!!

  30. Euro 2016 starts with 24 teams, up from the 16teams from prior Euro’s so perhaps a chance for Armenia to qualify. 24places for 53teams. Hmmm interesting. Maybe Yura plays better and gets a call up to a Dutch team and qualifies Armenia and has a goal in 2016.

  31. After Saturday’s troll-fest conversation comparing Jozy and Chicarito, I really didn’t think things could get much worse. But alas, we SBI readers can always find a way to out-do ourselves.

    Let’s cue up the next topics to bicker about pointlessly. Here’s a few suggestions.

    1. Charlie Davies and health care legislation (the republicans can blame CD9’s lack of super human recovery on Obamacare, the democrats can blame the same “failure” on a corresponding failure to enact a single-payer system)
    2. Religion
    3. Charlie Davies, Oguchi Onyewu, and religion
    4. “Football” vs. “Soccer”
    5. MLS should adopt relegation

    In seriousness though, I do love coming here to see what will come up next. Long live SBI.

  32. Andy Najar might still be in contention for the US citizenship. It depends on his parents status. If his parents can naturalize to gain US citizenship, then Andy could acquire US citizenship as a derivative to a recently naturalized US citizen if he is still younger than 18yrs old. For random loop-holes, he can marry an American citizen that’s assigned overseas as a missionary, US government, military, etc – he is considered to still be a resident and could count his time overseas for naturalization. If he marries a US government employee, such as a diplomat, he could also qualify for expedited US citizenship.

    Those are all long-shots except maybe if his parent naturalize before his 18th birthday.

  33. Yeah. (to your first paragraph) Then we would all be screwed wouldn’t we? If we say that we should not allow immigrants into a country that isn’t theirs, then that should give the Native Americans every right to kick us WASPs out as well.

  34. err not amend, because if you want to change a law for everyone based on one person, they by all means. I mean more like bypassing the law for the sake of one.

  35. I completely understand Movsisyan’s decision. By playing for Armenia, he is pretty much guaranteed to never play in the World Cup or the Euros (although as we just saw this summer, smaller countries like Slovenia and Slovakia can sneak in). However, he is pretty much guaranteed to be playing in World Cup and Euro qualifiers for the rest of his career. Right now, even with the lack of options up front, he wouldn’t be a lock to make the US team. In another three years (when he would be eligible), the US might very well have better options (at least I hope so!), meaning that Movsisyan might not even see the field in qualifiers for the US. Playing in qualifiers would be a cool experience in and of itself, even if it doesn’t lead anywhere.

  36. “…not that politicians are getting in the way of soccer players playing for the USA. You made that jump on your own.”

    Ives, if you don’t want people to jump to that conclusion, maybe you should be a little more clear in your writing. Writing that US fans should blame the federal government and that its frustrating that the US won’t ease citizenship requirements for borderline national team players insinuates that ‘US politicians are getting in the way of soccer players playing for the USA.’ The ‘anchor baby’ story, while showing a general trend in politics, has nothing to do with the process of becoming a naturalized citizen, which is the point of your comments.

    (SBI-Not the point of my comment, but thanks for trying.)

  37. I don’t blame Movsisyan, he his playing for the nation of his birth, even though they probably won’t ever qualify for any major tournaments.

    I’m still more upset about Neven Subotic, even more so than I was about Giuseppe Rossi. They never had a chance at Rossi, so that didn’t really matter. As for Subotic, he was already playing for the U-20s, when Rongen decided, in error, that guys like Amaechi Igwe and Julian Valentin were better CBs than Subotic than publicly criticized him.

    Anybody else that doesn’t want to wait for citizenship I do not blame. Your career is so short, and who knows what is down the line in three years (think about Freddy Adu 3 yrs ago coming off the high of the ’07 U-20 World Cup about now).


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