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USMNT Daily Update: Not every player that “got away” really got away


A popular topic among some U.S. Men’s National team circles is the list of players who could have played for the USMNT but wound up playing elsewhere. Giuseppe Rossi is the patron saint of this subject, with Neven Subotic playing a close second.

Here’s the real question. How many top-notch players has the U.S. lost out on? How many elite players who were actually eligible for the United States has the national team missed the boat on?

Not as many as some would have you believe.

You have probably heard players like Andy Najar, Vedad Ibisevic and Yura Movsisyan (pictured above) mentioned as players who fell through the cracks or players who the United States should have landed for the national team. The only problem with those theories is the fact that none of those players were eligible for the United States when they played for other nations, and none of them would necessarily be eligible today even if they hadn’t been cap-tied by other countries.

In the cases of Najar and Movsisyan, both were residents of the USA who did not gain their American citizenship before playing for Honduras and Armenia, respectively. Movsisyan’s name came up recently after his $9.7 million move to Spartak Moscow. He did want to play for the United States, but he never secured his citizenship before he departed for Europe to continue his professional career overseas. Movsisyan married an American, so leaving for Europe didn’t keep him from gaining citizenship, but he still had to wait at least two more years for his American citizenship after leaving MLS. Ultimately, he chose to play for Armenia rather than wait, a decision that allowed him to play in European qualifying matches and World Cup qualifying matches in front of European scouts, which certainly didn’t hurt his club prospects.

Najar was born and raised in Honduras, and was pressured from an early going to play for Honduras. He considered the United States, but was never a serious threat to try and play for the Americans. Najar also isn’t an American citizen. He wasn’t one when he debuted for Honduras, and still isn’t one to this day.

So did the USMNT really lose out?

Ibisevic is even more of a head-scratching name to mention as someone who should be playing for the U.S. national team. He spent one year playing high school soccer, and one year playing college soccer at Saint Louis University. Before he was anywhere close to even thinking about playing for the United States, Ibisevic was already heading to Europe to embark on a professional career that has become a very impressive one.

The myth of Ibisevic being one that got away was perpetuated, in part, by an interview he gave the New York Times soccer blog four years ago, when he pointed out that nobody from U.S. Soccer had reached out to him during his one year of college soccer at Saint Louis, and he revealed that he probably would have played for the United States if given the chance.

The fitting follow-up question to that would have been to ask Ibisevic if he would have been willing to spend four to six years in the United States working toward citizenship, thus putting his European soccer aspirations on hold, to play for the U.S. national team. Chances are he had no idea just how far away he was from being eligible for the USA, and chances are he wouldn’t trade away the career he has fashioned now for the chance to play for the United States.

Is there a scenario where he could have wound up being eligible for the USA? Sure. If he had stayed in college, kept playing there until he joined MLS, and then played in MLS until he put in the years to become an American citizen, then yes, at some point he might have earned citizenship.

If Ibisevic had taken that route there is no assurance that he would ever have reached the heights he has reached now professionally, leading the Bundesliga in goals while starring for Stuttgart. You can certainly argue that MLS might have dropped the ball from a scouting standpoint, but the fact is there is no way of knowing how Ibisevic’s career would have turned out if he hadn’t gone to Europe.

At what point do we draw the line on these absurd claims of players who got away? Perhaps Sunil Gulati could have done more to keep Brede Hangeland’s family from leaving Texas and moving their three-year-old son to Norway. Maybe former Real Madrid midfielder Santiago Solari could have played for the U.S. in a few World Cups if only someone at U.S. Soccer had found him an American girlfriend when he was playing college soccer in New Jersey in the 90s.

This isn’t to suggest that there aren’t legitimate cases of players getting away. Miguel Ponce was born in the United States but won an Olympic gold medal winner for Mexico last summer. Roger Espinoza could have played for the United States if he had waited for the U.S. national team to show interest, but he wound up playing for his native Honduras instead. That decision ultimately allowed Espinoza to play in a World Cup for Honduras, and he wound up starring in the Olympics, which helped earn him a move to English Premier League side Wigan Athletic.

It is safe to say he isn’t regretting his decision to play for Honduras, and truth be told, nobody should wish for things to have played out any differently.

Would it be nice if U.S. immigration laws were more lax, and players from other countries didn’t have to wait as long to earn citizenship? Sure, you can make that argument, but the national team has nothing to do with that, and an argument can be made that stringent citizenship rules aren’t exactly a bad thing for a country to have.

U.S. fans can certainly still lament the losses of Rossi and Subotic, because both were actually eligible for the United States early on, and both would have been sure-fire starters had they wound up playing for the USMNT. Rossi was born and raised in New Jersey, but his ties to Italy and Italian soccer proved too strong to overcome. Subotic represented the United States in the 2005 Under-17 World Cup, but ultimately decided against playing for the senior U.S. team, choosing to play for Serbia.

Those significant losses serve as the cautionary tales that motivate U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to work hard to identify and make contact with all players eligible for the United States. Klinsmann, in his own words, said he doesn’t want to lose another Giuseppe Rossi.

These days the U.S. national team is doing a better job of identifying and landing players who had other options. The infusion of German-American options is well-documented, and Jose Torres and Edgar Castillo are players who have passed up chances to play for Mexico to represent the United States. Timmy Chandler took longer than most, but now appears ready to commit. Klinsmann has been in touch with and made aware of players such as Aron Johannsson, Shawn Parker and Sebastien Hines, but none of the three players have tangible ties to the American soccer structure so can any of them be considered to have been lost if the wind up playing for other countries?

The good thing for the U.S. National team is that prospects realize that World Cup appearances are a safe bet if you become a part of the national team. That’s something not every country can say. That coupled with the increasing effort to identify and integrate dual-national players makes it increasingly unlikely that the United States is going to miss out on a player they should have been able to cap tie.

Nothing will change the fact that the U.S. team lost out on the Rossi and Subotic, but before you go buying into the notion that the USMNT has lost out on a boatload of players, a closer look will show you that such ideas are more hype than reality.


  1. I’m hoping for an obligatory Americans currently flying under the radar article. We’ve definitely come a long way since these guys, but there are still guys starting for teams in Europe that never get mentioned by anyone official.

  2. Look no further than the USWNT to prove that point. Half of concacaf ‘s women nat’l teams have american born/trained women on them.

  3. This makes for a level-headed counter-point to an article on NBC’s Pro Soccer Talk. And yes, for the record, I think the author of said NBC article flew waaaay off the handle. (Side note, they need better writers on that thing, I’m loving every other aspect of NBC’s MLS/soccer coverage, except the Pro Soccer blog. I know they’re trying to be young and cool with their writing style but it comes off as annoyingly snarky and rude, not to mention prone to flying off the handle a bit with certain things.)

    As far the topic of this piece goes, I think this is a situation the U.S. will always have to deal with, or for a long time at least. As a country of immigrants, there will always be those few players that will get away. And in some cases there will be nothing U.S. Soccer can do about it.

    I think (hope, really) that as time goes by, and the U.S.’ standing in international soccer rises, the desirability of playing for the U.S. will rise and some of these players (dual citizen) will find it more enticing to play for the U.S.

    A bit far-fetched yes, but if the U.S. win the World Cup anytime soon, I think you’d see most of these dual citizen type players (Rossi, Subotic, Mosvsisyan, etc.) trying a little harder (or trying at all as the case may be) to make it onto the U.S. Nats.

    • Our problem then will be that we are “too tough to break into” — like Germany and other countries will poach our youth players as they queue up to get onto the big team. Good players with options will always try to take the path that is best for him (considering the system makes it almost impossible to turn back).

  4. What do they feed those guys on military bases in Germany that: 1) makes tremendous soccer players, and 2) makes them choose to play for the two time defending world war champs?

    • See Jermaine Jones interview where he says that he felt more comfortable in the US National Team locker room than he did in Germany. I think his experience being ‘one of the guys’ here really helped convinced the other GerAmercians come and play for the US.

      • First “Two Time Defending World War Champ” is awesome and I’m stealing that from you.

        Second, I think the word that Jones is implying but isn’t willing to come out and say is “racism.” Germany STILL has a lot of people who look at the concept of “German” as being a racial concept, not based on color but on the fact that to be a German your parents must be German. When so many people have that bias then half-German parents mean you are a lesser German. Italy is much the same way, remember the chants aimed at Biotelli (‘There are no black Italans, there are no black Italians”).
        I get the feeling that it was culturally hard to be not completely German in Germany and especially hard in their lockerroom. I’m sure some people are more aware (or “sensitive” if you’re cynical about it) to it than others, but I think once a couple German-Americans decided to sign up for the US it became a community of like-minded people who had found each other had gone through the same life situations and formed their own place, one that fit well with the rest of the US locker room full of multi-nationals and guys that aren’t as hung up over identity politics.

      • I can’t take credit for it…I have a t-shirt that says ‘back to back’ world war champs on it that I wear for US games.

        But that’s a good point, I remember Williams saying that whenever he was in the USA on vacation nobody would look twice at him, like he fit in. When he’s in Germany he knows that everybody knows he’s not “German” as you described. He said nobody really looks like he does. So I don’t think it’s any coincidence that most of the GerMericans playing for us are of African-American descent (Boyd/Williams/Chandler/Jones/Johnson) and identify as more American than German.

  5. Not worth crying over spilled milk. US Soccer needs to learn from mistakes and adjust in the future. We as fans need to get past the past and root for the guys we have and that play for our team.

  6. It is silly to be upset about Rossi when all of these GerAmericans are doing the same thing. At least Rossi went to Italy as a youth to play professional soccer. None of the GerAmericans play in MLS or ever dreamed of playing in the USMNT youth system. Many, if not all, are playing for the USMNT now bc they know Germany is not going to call them up.

  7. One point you did not mention about Subotic: Thomas Rongen left him off of the U-20 squad for the World Championships in 2007 after criticizing him earlier that year. It is said Subotic decided after those incidents to play for Serbia rather than the U.S. I don’t know if it was ever admitted by Neven, but you cannot discount it. If he played in 2007, I would say he would have stayed with the U.S. through hit career.

    He is the one that got away.

  8. Rossi did not get away. It was his father’s dream that he play for Italy. His father was dying of cancer when he got his cap-tying call-up. Plus he is such a sick note, he never plays anyway. Maybe people should be clamoring about how we need a better league capable of developing our homegrown talent.

  9. “and Jose Torres and Edgar Castillo are players who have passed up chances to play for Mexico to represent the United States.”

    Not really.

    Torres passed up a chance to play in the 2008 Olympics while waiting for Mexico and Sven to call him up. The USSF had had minimal contact with him at that point and he wanted to repay Pachuca and Mexico for giving him the chance he wasn’t given in the US. Eventually he felt more comfortable playing for the country of his birth and decided to suit up for the US.

    As for Castillo, he played for the Mexican U23s in the 2008 Olympic Qualifiers and was even called up for a few games with the senior Mexican NT during the HEX, where he was unable to attend because he “misplaced” his passport.

    Either way, that sentence has quite a spin on it Ives.

    • No spin involved. Both players were eligible for Mexico and passed on that to cap-tie themselves to Mexico. You can argue that their chances of earning Mexico caps were/are slim if you want but the fact is both have done enough in recent years to have been on Mexico’s radar at varying points but both gave up that chance to tie themselves to the USA.

    • The article did leave off Joe Corona who could have played for Mexico and El Salvador, but was cap tied with a late substitution against Guatemala.

  10. i find this whole conversation a little disturbing, and it is one that shows a lot of weakness and insecurtity.

    the first thing that disturbs me is that us fans seem to treat the us national team like a club team, thinking that because a guy is doing well in the bundas league or italy, or wherever, that he will perform this way for the us national team. or that players need to be locked up. what kind of nonsense is that? why would we want to tie a player into the national team if he may not really want it, or if his heart is not going to be fully on board, which is probably the reason chandler gets so much flak, while his fellow germaricans have been so brave.

    i dont know, what about american players who hear of us fans clammoring for players that belong to other nations. its insulting, if im geoff cameron or some other young center back, to hear people talking about subotic like he would have been the answer, and its all BS. i mean really. subotic is good, but he plays for a damn good bundas league team, and is paired with a pretty fantastic center back.

    it just sounds like sour grapes, hearing about these players. who fing cares. i mean, if you are looking onwards and upwards, why look backwards?

  11. In this day of globalization a nation like the USA should have tons of dual nationals picking or leaving; it is inevitable. Just think about how many americans live, work or have family abroad and how many different nationalities live in every US city. Im just glad that the USSF is a respectable enough program that its not a huge epidemic, because it very well could be! Look at Canada, quality players jump ship for just about anyother quality side (bunbury, hargreeves) or just hold out (holiett, de guzman)

    Plus we have been extra blessed with the generation of german-american sons of servicemen!

    Quick political two cents: immigration law is an area where progressive reform
    Is needed

  12. The only one that bothers me is Rossi. While he never played for any iterations of the USMNT, he was born and raised here and still goes to New Jersey when he ‘goes home for the summer.’ I don’t want to argue the semantics of what it means to be American, but there is a reason why we have the expression “Home is where the heart is.”

  13. “[Rossi’s] ties to Italy and Italian soccer proved too strong to overcome.” Uh-huh. And those four stars over the Azzurri’s crest had absolutely *nothing* to do with it! Gullible much? Rossi would’ve been falling all over himself to play for the United States if Italy had blown him off — you can take that to the bank! Rossi is every bit as American as I am, and for him to claim that he’s always just felt “more Italian” as a soccer player just proves what a lying, cynical, self-serving sack of solidified methane he is! He took his 30 pieces of silver and ran, so suffice it to say I haven’t exactly been feeling too terribly sorry for him with his injury problems that forced him to miss the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euros — not to mention how hard I was laughing when he led Italy to victory over the U.S. at the ’09 Confederations Cup only to watch the Yanks advance all the way to the final while he and the Azzurri left South Africa in disgrace! Too bad, so sad!

    • It’d be like your whole family being huge Yankee fans from NY, and your dad’s dream is to himself play, and later for you his son, for the Yankees. But your family moves to Milwaukee before you’re born, and you grow up feeling 100% “Milwaukee”, and you want to see the Brewers do well against any other team, but your dream is still to play for you and your dad’s team, the Yankees. I hate that Rossi chose to play for Italy because he has always felt like he was one of us, and still does, but I can’t bring myself to hate Rossi himself; I can empathize with his conflict too much, as I’m sure millions of Americans can. It makes it easier to get over it when the USMNT has still been very successful without him, but I think there will always be that ‘what if’ with him.

      • National pride ALWAYS trumps regional pride. Turning your back on your region is not the same as turning your back on your country.

  14. Santiago Solari…stockton college baby what up?! C’mon Ives couldnt say “playing at Stockton College in the 90’s” not that anyone would know but stillQ

    • I went to Ramapo College and actually covered Solari when he played against us. Knew he was special then, but not Real Madrid special.

  15. The way I see it…You want dual national team players? get them BEFORE they make a name for themselves otherwise we don’t have a chance to get them.

  16. This is a nice rational counterpoint to that silly article.

    As much as we’d like to have Subotic, we all know the blame for that one lies with Rongen. That is 4+ years in the past now.

    At this point, we need to focus on keeping promising dual nationals in our system. Diskerud, J.A. Brooks, Alfredo Morales, etc. It seems like JK’s doing everything within his power to at least maintain some sort of contact with many of these players.

  17. Perhaps I’m completely off base, but Ponce isn’t out of the question, no? The Olympics aren’t considered a senior team event, and the Copa America he participated in wouldn’t cap-tie him because Mexico was invited as a guest to another federation’s tournament. If my understanding is correct, the only two ways for him to be cap-tied would be through seeing the field in either the Gold Cup or in World Cup qualification, something Ponce has not accomplished to date. Granted, his heart may simply lie with Mexico, rendering this a moot point, but if he were to continue to struggle to see playing time, wouldn’t it be a (extremely faint) possibility that he could switch allegiances to the USA?

    • That would be interesting, but I think the US is at a stage where they wouldn’t call Ponce, well at least I hope. Still don’t like that Castillo was called in, but those were desperate times.

      • Why wouldn’t they? If Ponce showed interest (completely hypothetical,) there is no reason at all not to call him. He is likely a better player than Castillo at this point, and the fact that Johnson only played 3 of the 6 WCQ this year (with Castillo being hurt in the same 3 as Johnson) reinforces the fact that the US needs depth. Having two capable players with LB as their primary position feels new, but the player pool can and should extend deeper than that.

        The fact of the matter is, Ponce is American. End of discussion. If he wanted to play for the US, he is an American citizen. He is also Mexican, but his cultural identity or his patriotism are completely irrelevant. He is eligible, and he would instantly become one of the top 2-3 LB in the pool. That alone should serve as motivation for US Soccer to pursue him, if he is willing.

  18. It’s a bummer about Movsisyan because he made the effort to become a Yank. Side from Rossi who claimed to “feel more Italian on the pitch,” Movsisyan adopts that he is an American rather than being some foreign hired-gun player who qualified by a parent or did some fly-by-night tour of the country in college. He feels like he fits the current crop on our team – quite similar to Stuart Holden.

    • Espinoza is a decent player and all but let’s face it, he’s nowhere near good enough for the US national team given our depth at his position. Now think of how much further back in the depth chart he was in the year 2009 when he played for Honduras. He would have been about our 20th choice in the central midfield. Now maybe he’s up to like 10… who cares? People get pissed when Maurice Edu or Kyle Beckerman are getting minutes.

  19. Good points about how the USA really didn’t have a chance with most of these guys. Losing Suboitc is, of course, an exception. Also, losing out on the Sanchez kid who’s gonna play goalie for Dallas, and bedevil the USA for a decade or more — that hurts, but there’s no blame there.

    • What if we had to worry about every prospect that signs with a european club between the ages of 16 and 25? Anyone afraid of gatt going to Norway or packwood picking england?, nope it enouraged for them to go abroad. But if one of them was the next big star i bet that would become an issue… Didnt Spain reach out to messi?

      As MLS improves it shouldnt be used to poach players for the national team imo

      • Gatt was in Austria before Norway, and came in his later teens so not much of a comparison.

        Spain reached out to Messi because Barca brought Messi over when he was quite young. Messi on Spain’s team would easily make them invincible.

  20. Subotic is the only one who really stings because all the other players listed were beyond US Soccer’s control. Sunil can’t change citizenship laws and never had a chance getting Rossi to suit up for the US. Subotic was the only one who was in the US system and the only one the US had any chance to sway a decision.

    • They had a chance but not much of one.

      By the time Subotic had to make his choice he was a rising star at Dortmund, so he had a much clearer picture of what he had to gain in Europe.
      By picking Serbia he:

      Reduced the amount of intercontinental travel he would have to do, thus saving his body over the long term. This certainly impacts the longevity of his club career. See Friedel, Brad.

      Increased the number of major honors he could get since Serbia plays in the Euros and the World Cup His true first choice was Germany but he was ruled ineligible for that so Serbia, arguably a better team than the US was next in line.

      The US was always the third choice.

      • …and Serbia will appear in fewer World Cups over the course of Subotic’s career than the U.S. will, with at least as little chance of making a serious run into the late rounds. Buy the ticket, take the ride!

      • No it wasn’t. Subotic himself has said he would have played for the US, but he wasn’t chosen as a youth and he was tired of being brought in and never played. He was 100% ours to lose.

  21. Liked the article Ives, and obviously you listed plenty of guys who are somewhat falsely looked at as “getting away” (Najar, Ibisevic, Movsisyan, Hangeland, Solari, Espinoza), as well as noting a couple who for whatever reason legitimately “got away” (Rossi, Subotic, Ponce). I obviously already knew the stories of Rossi and Subotic; I’m curious if there are any other guys who were legitimately eligible for the USMNT and ended up playing for another country? Either past or present, just curious if anybody knows of other potential Yanks who ended up elsewhere..?

    • Alejandro Melean is on the Bolivian team. Born in the US and played for Holy Cross. Was unable to catch on in MLS and went to Bolivia. He is now cap-tied to the team.

      Bright Dike of the Portland Timbers played for Nigeria in a recent friendly. He was born & raised in the US. He isn’t cap-tied yet.

      A.J. DeLaGarza is playing for Guam along with Ryan Guy of the Revs. Neither is cap-tied. Of course, the whole Guam & Puerto Rico squads are US citizens. Bill Gaudette is probably the best on the PR team.

  22. If we can lock up 2 or 3 more duel nationals (Hines, Brooks, & Iceland Aaron) I think most fans will finally let go of some of the anger/pain many feel regarding the missed opportunities around Rossi and Subotic.
    Hines & Brooks will patch the hole left by Subotic, and strengthen the rest of the defense for the next 6-10 years.
    Aaron would give us that speed option up top our out wide to replace Donovan/Davies. We still have Gatt and a couple others who could potentially fill those shoes but Aaron seems to be a step ahead of them.

    • Don’t forget Derrick Williams who is starting to get minutes for Aston Villa in the back, he may have played for Ireland’s youths, but his dad is American, don’t know if anyone has actually asked him the question on whether he would consider playing for the US.

  23. the USMNT pool has come a long way since the height of the Rossi-Subotic-related anguish-there are more Americans in Europe, more Americans at better clubs in Europe and more Americans playing key roles at better clubs in Europe… one could even argue that with 3-4 starters game in, game out, the dual-national sweepstakes have been a net positive (I don’t think it’s clear cut either way)…

    the Fabian Johnson upgrade over Bornstein/others is almost enough to atone for either Rossi or Subotic…throw in Chandler and Williams and it’s closer to a toss-up…

  24. Hangeland is the biggest dang for me outside of the obvious. But hindsight is a female dog.

    Tim Cahill’s mom came from America Samoa (I think that’s the name) which is a US territory and thus he could have played for us too. I think I read that on SI.

    There was that West Ham fullback in the 90s who tried to play with us but was barred because he played in England’s you teams. He could have been useful. His son could now play for us too.

    Rossi was never ours so what’s the point? Subotic would have been fierce.

    Too many. Makes your head spin.

    • Wish there was an edit button..

      Before I get attacked, I mean Rossi always had his heart set on Italy. So he was never ours in that sense.

      • Young Potts would be in the same shape as anyone else who comes to play in MLS when it comes to gaining citizenship. 5 years after getting a Green Card (and there’s no guarantee you’ll get the GC).

        If Steve had moved with Dan to the US before he hit age 18, then Dan would have gotten a GC right away and been eligible to get citizenship almost immediately. But nobody was thinking in those terms at the time.

    • The thing that still hurts about Rossi is he really is so American. He’s not a guy who was born here by chance or who feels like he’s from a different culture, he really is one of us, just a Jersey-born Italian-American. Obviously he went to Europe in his early teens because he knew that was where the best prospects as a soccer player lay, and it’s well documented that from an early age his dream (passed down from his father) was to play for the Azzurri.

      I guess that’s something sewn into the fabric of America–before the USA, everyone had a homeland–but boy does it hurt to have someone who is one of your own, in every sense, reject you. I guess some American players might always see their ethnic homeland as the hottest girl at the dance so to speak, no matter how truly American they are in every other facet.

      I don’t even really harbor any anger towards Rossi because, were I in his shoes, I can’t say I wouldn’t have the same dreams and priorities. Although I admit it does leave, even still, a real feeling of regret over what could’ve and, in many other cases, would’ve been. But all in all the USMNT has moved past the issue and is in a really good place at present, so I suppose there’s no reason to dwell on it anymore.

      • Yes but, how many world cup finals has the US ever played in?
        Zero –
        I have the right to claim dual citizenship (Spain and USA) though born in USA (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and I was raised in Central New Jersey, playing my HS ball in Mercer County, and college soccer in upstate NY. At one stage I dreamed of playing for the USMNT. I still bleed red, white and blue and watch nearly very game the US plays.
        But, but………if today I was 17 years old and Vicente del Bosque came to me and said, “Yo my friend, you are good enough play for my starting 11, I want you on the Spanish National team.” I would accept his invitation in a heart beat.
        Rossi grew up as an adolescent and a teen spending summers in Italy, and then training with some top Serie A development programs – culturally, aesthetically, soccer talent-wise, coaching level-wise, etc. – he had every reason to choose Italy over the United States. And I don’t blame him.

      • I could really do without Rossi’s nickname being “Captain America.”
        Also, Rossi has been left out of the first team for the Italians quite often (not just when injured) so your analogy isn’t perfect.
        Rossi is a good sign of what happens when communities of foreigners don’t really assimulate. Same thing with the Mexican-Americans who root for Mexico over the US. I know it’s hypocritical because if i moved to Canada I’d still be rooting for the US but still it makes me mad.

    • Josh D,

      You are thinking of Steve Potts who played for West Ham and England Youth. In his time I believe FIFA rules were different so even though he was born in Connecticut, he did not play for the US.

      His son is Daniel Potts the young left back for West Ham (currently out on loan) who, it turns out, is actually not eligible to play for the US.

      So the US did not miss out on those two.

      Tim Cahill was born in Sydney. He represented Samoa as an Under 17 and had to file a one time switch to be allowed to play for Australia. This leads me to believe his mother was from Samoa (which got its independence from New Zealand) not American Samoa. So Cahill would not have been eligible for an American passport at any time in his life.

      Technically, Hangeland could have gotten a US passport at some point but he and his parents spent only two years in the US and there is no indication that he or Cahill ever thought about playing for the US.

      • Thank you.

        None of them (Cahill or Hangeland) would have ever played for us. It was just a technicality that they could.

        Maybe it was his grandmother then (Cahill’s). I remember reading about it in a respected publication. SI or ESPN or NY Times. One of those.

        As for Potts, I thought his son could play. I am mistaken on that end. I think Papa Potts was barred because he moved to England and played for their youth team. There was an interview floating around about a year ago when his son was thought to have documents to play for us.

    • We’ve already got a couple of solid guys in the pool who are very similar to Tim Cahill, and Mike Bradley in particular is already a better player than Cahill in his mid-20s. Certainly no great loss there.

    • There is one other player we may have missed out on in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Samuel Caballero, longtime Honduras national team captain, had an American mother and would have been eligible for expedited citizenship as a result. Apparently no one at the USSF knew anything about this until he signed with the Chicago Fire late in his career and mentioned that his mother was born in Chicago.

    • I believe residents of American Samoa are considered US “nationals”, but not “citizens”. I’m not sure how that plays into the rules here since FIFA uses the term “nationals”.


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