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Wambach questions ‘killer instinct’ of foreign-born USMNT players

Abby Wambach USWNT World Cup final (USA TODAY Sports)

Abby Wambach is still not a fan of Jurgen Klinsmann’s selection policy with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

In an interview with the New York Times, The former U.S. Women’s National Team star was interviewed about a number of topics, including her thoughts on dual-national USMNT players, which she was vocal about late last year.

“Do I agree with everything Jurgen has done? No, I do not,” Wambach said. “It’s just my opinion, and I’m entitled to that. It feels a little bit odd to me that you have some guys that have never lived in the United States that play for the United States because they were able to secure a passport. To me, that just feels like they weren’t able to make it for their country and earn a living, so they’re coming here.

“But do they have that killer instinct? I don’t know.”

Mix Diskerud was one American player who voiced his displeasure with Wambach’s initial comments in 2015. The 36-year-old said she would be open to discussing these issues with Diskerud and other dual-nationals.

“I’d love to sit down with Mix Diskerud and some of these other guys and talk to them about it,” said Wambach. “I’d love to understand how much they love their country. I believe they can have love for both countries, but I’d love to hear it, and I think so many other people would, too. If this is an ignorant opinion, I’ll raise my hand in the end and say, ‘My bad.’ But I’d want to have that conversation.”

Wambach also talked about her sobriety, her personal struggles and a number of other topics in the interview. However, her controversial statement towards Klinsmann and the USMNT will surely stoke another fire in the coming days.


  1. Wow, what a great opportunity to be self-righteous and patriotic at the same time. I don’t have a problem with dual nationals. It’s within the rules. So get on with it. Are the dual nationals the US has picked up worth the trouble? Well that’s debatable.
    But to be fair to Abby. She is not the first person in soccer to raise this issue. I suspect that many soccer folks think recruiting dual nationals is a little bit shady. Not as bad as third party ownership, but headed in the same direction. Many Italians get outraged on the subject and have done so for many decades. Our neighbors to the south in Mexico were long proud that they did not field any foreign born players. And a decade or so ago before foreign born players were common on European national teams, one heard more than a few sneers directed their way.

  2. Nothing wrong with Abby’s comment. A lots these guys were not raise in USA, and pick the US because Germany or Iceland don’t want them, they’re unfamiliar with July 4th and Thanks Giving. Note: I am saying; “all them these players” but “some these guys”.

    I was born Uruguay and became America via Military Service, so I hold very Nationalist love towards the USA with beautiful free markets, Capitalism, constitutional rights, right bear arms, and rich impact in the World.

  3. It must be difficult to fall out of the spotlight. It’s pretty ironic that Abby hung on to her spot on the USWNT for years longer than she should have because of privilege and entitlement rather than effort and ability. This is the person who famously took the season off from her club team so she would be ready to play in the World Cup. She’s a huge hypocrite to question the commitment of the dual nationals who have to compete just like everyone else on the USMNT.

  4. I think our first 10 Presidents were born in the British Colonies, not the USA, does Abby wonder about their “killer instinct”? Does she want to talk to them about how much they love their country? About how much they love both countries?

  5. She’s entitled to her opinion, unfortunately the powers that be haven’t exercised good judgement in giving her a bully pulpit to express her xenophobic comments. Of all the people who should understand the concept of tolerance, it should be Abby. Isn’t Wambach of German ancestry?

  6. It does beg the question: is it really worth it? It’s not like we are poaching Luis Suarez or Giovinco, we are talking about the likes of Dix Mixeruud an Jermaine Jones. Players that although above average for American standards are not really good enough to raise our level in a significant way and whatever benefit we see in a world ranking we all know it’s sort of artificial considering how we can’t develop 11 players good enough to takes us past the second round in the World Cup.
    Teams dont’t win world cups. Player development systems do.

    • Jesus…virtually every team in the world has dual nationals. Most teams that go to the world cup have at least one player on their pool that was born and either partially or wholly raised abroad. Don’t believe me: Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium for example. Hell, Marcos Senna was arguably the Spain’s MVP when they won the 2008 Euros and they have Diego Costa. Italy have field multiple players born and raised abroad (including multiple Brazilians) in the past couple years. The list is too long to list.

      In terms of if it is worth it, having better players is always a big plus because players have to rise their level of play to beat out better players in order to play. Our 3 best players in ’14 World Cup were German born (Jones, Johnson and Brooks). It is not like Johnson and Brooks are bums. Johnson would had a chance of making the German national team and Brooks is considered one the the better CBs in the Bundesliga and one of the best young CBs. he would in the conversation for the Mannschaft going forward. He looks like he might end up legitimately having a shot at being the best CB in US history.

      • Where does anyone think Argentina would be without its Nazi … ahhem, [cough], I mean [cough] German [cough]… and Italian contingents?

    • You are comparing Jermaine Jones to Mix Diskerud. Also, we can raise our level significantly and still fall short of a world cup.

  7. She can have her opinion but putting the burden of proof on players like Mix to prove to her that they have the right amount of patriotism is crazy.

  8. These types of statements are incredibly ignorant. It doesn’t matter how someone obtained citizenship…they are citizens of this country and have all the same rights as any other citizen (save 1….they cannot run for president of the USA).

    Duel Nationals are not a NEW Phenomenon. As someone above noted there is a long history of the USMNT having duel nationals. Even Arena (who also bashed Klinsmann on this subject) used a number of foreign born/raised players. It’s not even a phenomenon unique to the USA….nearly every country in the world uses Duel Nationals. Including the top tier countries like Germany, Spain, England, etc…. As long as the individual meets the requirements to obtain citizenship they have the right to represent that country. By the way the USA has stricter requirements than most other nations.

    Trying to install some kind of residency requirement is equally ignorant. Children are born and raised where their families have decided to settle. Be it in the US or some other country….the child has no choice in the matter. By the time they could choose most are already associated with a professional team. Should we force youngsters born abroad to sign with MLS, and receive inferior training/coaching, as a litmus test to prove that they are American Enough to represent their country? Or do we need to start even younger….Only players who have played AYSO can represent our national team? Any way you look at it it’s a Ridiculous argument and shows how ignorant some of these people are.

    To those who argue that we can’t develop our own talent. What is your definition of develop? Players like Pulisic & Gooch moved to Europe at a very young age….did we develop them or were they developed by someone else? Are they American enough for you? How about players like Brooks, Green, Boyd, CCV….born abroad but have been part of the US youth teams since their teens. Did we develop them? How about Zelalem….born abroad moved to the US at age 10….moved back to Europe at 16, Did we develop him? Again a ridiculous argument to make. Players are developed at the club level….beyond that it’s a pointless discussion.

    I’m disappointed that Abby even brought this up….but I’m equally disappointed in the author of this article for bringing this back up after it was originally discussed a year ago when Abby made these statements.

    • Actually, most all dual nationals can run for President (as long as they are at least 35 years old and have lived in the US for at least 14 years). The general consensus is that natural born citizen in the Constitution is to distinguish between those who are citizens at birth and those who become citizens through a naturalization process. This question came up regarding Senator Ted Cruz running for President. He has a Cuban father and was born in Canada, but because he has an American citizen mother, that makes him eligible for President. That is why the birther nonsense about Obama was such nonsense. Even if he wasn’t born in Hawaii, he still was a citizen because of his American mother. Just a clarification, I like everything else you wrote on the subject.

  9. Wrong on so many levels. I’ll ignore here that she is talking about my children. Otherwise – 1. Judgemental; she shouldn’t group everyone together. Some people may be opportunistic but I don’t think anyone could argue that’s true about Earnie Stewart or Thomas Dooley, for example. 2. Arrogant; to imply she is passionate about her country in a way Jermaine Jones can’t be. Or to act as if she knows what Fabian Johnson’s body language means. Eddie Pope often had the same detached look about him. 3. Petty; this is the least of Klinsmann’s problems or faults. Three of the four players I just mentioned were first selected by other coaches, and I recall fans getting rather excited not critical about David Regis, a foreign born AND naturalized citizen. If she has a problem with JK she should go after his technical decisions. 4. Crap argument; no mention of how good some of these players actually are. John Brooks may someday go down as our best defender ever (Thomas Rongen found him, oh and where is Thomas Rongen from?) 5. Ignorant; what to do then of future “foreign borns”? Carter-Vickers, Zelalem, Timothy Weah (first generation immigrant), Joel Sonora (first generation immigrant), etc. Immigrants, weren’t we all once?

  10. It is possible, maybe even expected, that a person born, raised and trained in a country far away doesn’t have the same loyalty to the US shirt as somebody born within our borders. There isn’t any room to argue that but this was never about patriotism , it’s about the convenience of finding good enough players instead of developing them. It a lot easier that way.

    • I’d argue there are dual nationals on every national team, it happens in every country, so let’s not act like the US is doing something that’s never been done before. To your point though, it is easier to call up a player with talent that has dual citizen ship as opposed to waiting for the development of younger players to mature into internationals.

  11. Mix can’t make the line up for NYCFC, but he still is tied for 6th most NT goals among active players with six, tied for 2nd for midfielders.

    Ernie Stewart, Frank Klopas, Willy Roy, Peter Millar, Thomas Dooley, Roy Wegerle all dual nationals with seven or more goals and all who played for the US before Jurgen Klinsman.

    Of course Diskerud, Jones, and Chandler all were brought in by Bob Bradley not JK as well.

  12. Oh yeah. Jermaine Jones joined the US Soccer team and got a massive American flag tattoo put on his body for a paycheck from the USSF. You know Schalke, they don’t pay much.

    The irony of Wambach questioning something these players can’t control – that they were born to American soldiers in may cases (about as patriotic as you can get) – and using that as a means to question their drive and passion is astoundingly ignorant. Jermaine Jones has shown more heart and commitment than most of the players in the pool. Fabian Johnson was one of the best backs in the World Cup in 2014.

    This is the epitome of ignorance, and I wonder if Abby A. knows how players get paid by clubs in the men’s game B. understands that most of these “foreign guys” get paid more playing for clubs in Europe than they would in MLS C. has watched the team play at all before she gets into fire, drive, and passion narrative.

    As a member of the LGBT community, I have been thankful that Abby was evaluated as a player (as she should be) and that her commitment was never questioned and that her sexuality was never painted as a distraction; in other sports like NFL football, the NBA, etc. this is often the case. For her to try to project her own ignorant metric on “who is american enough” or who has the drive and passion based on whether or not she thinks they are “foreign”, something they can’t control, is incredibly disappointing. She should be called out for this absurdly irrational opinion.

    And she may be entitled to say what she wants to say in public, but to think that she’s in some sort of position to coerce a sit down with players to gauge their passion is the very definition of entitlement and offensive incredulity. She should be ashamed of her comments, her ignorance to so much of the USMNT particulars, and that she has laid out these incoherent opinions for the world to see. A sad disgrace to an otherwise legendary player and personality.

      • Ah, I see your “time” has led you to another thread!

        None of what Gabe said was inaccurate which renders all of what you said irrelevant a result. Jones has displayed an unquestionable amount of heart, determination and passion when suiting up for the national team.

        Evidently that’s not an accurate metric to gauge this topic of conversation, but maybe Wambach will invite you to her town hall meeting to “better understand” her ignorance.

      • actually JJ didn’t get ignored by the German NT, he played a few friendlies for them so you ae partially wrong. No harm, no foul!

      • During a press conference JJ said that if the German NT didn’t call him for the senior team he was going to accept a call up from the USNT. They didn’t so he got a bold eagle tattoo and joined the USNT. If he’d had his choice he’d be playing for the Germans.

      • Jermaine definitely did not “feel” German. He felt alienated, portrayed as this Dennis Rodman-type caricature bad guy in Germany, often questioned and often lampooned, and portrayed as a no-talent hack who got by on dirty play and raw physical ability. He wanted to be German; they just wouldn’t let him.

        It was fascinating the way the Germans actually tried to play him in the World Cup, actually. At one point Schweinsteiger was trying to wind him up, hacked him down, and was trying to provoke a response…and discovered that in fact Kyle Beckerman was playing the role of enforcer for the USMNT that day, when Beckerman turned around and parked him. Assertively.

        The Germans couldn’t believe Jermaine wasn’t our thug. But then, we treat him like a leader and co-Captain because that’s the role he plays for us. He’s always left it all on the field for the USMNT. I’ll say this for Jermaine: he commits to stuff. Anybody who questions where his heart is now could probably use a new set of glasses.

        As for Mixx, he just strikes me as a laid-back guy.

      • With the exception of her usual xenophobic remarks, most of her commentary and general assessment of the world screams Hilary.

      • Well, no… maybe Bernie… but Hillary is in favor of globalization generally… more trade, more immigration… etc.

  13. Yes, as was Reyna, and Tab was born in Uruguay. My point was, they all came from “non American” backgrounds (all immigrant families). But their sons, bled for us in the field and paved the way un some ways for the success of mens and womens soccer in the US. Vermes father escaped major oppression during horrible times in Europe. Anyway, Wambch implies we have ill committed players somehow based on them not being native born. It seems off base to me.

    • Danny kissinger: My first thought was maybe she would like to give back Jermaine Jones’ goal against that put us ahead against Portugal…Or one of the qualifying games I remember, he flew half-way across the world, and still looked to be trying (or forced) to carry the team on his back. Would she ban Jermaine Jones from buying a home, HIS HOME, here? Benedict Rossi is American through & through, but chose Italy over the 3-world cup cycles he might have been guaranteed with the US. It happens. The world is an interconnected place, and US Soccer economics doesn’t provide for world class competition domestically. That EU passport has been a God-send for Yanks abroad trying ply their trade & develop the skillset needed to get called up in the first place. I think Jones & Johnson are American through & through. Greene’s Dad’s twitter page & social media in 2010 makes it hard for me to question his ‘American-ness.’ Abby needs to stop discriminating against children’s alien mothers.

  14. Poor Wambach. What kind of surname is that anyway Ab? Doesn’t sound “American” enough to me. Please spare us your opinion of how ” American” our players are. If you have a problem with it, call your Congress person and ask about an amendment to change US citizenship laws. Don’ t call out JK because he follows the rules. None of Pete Vermes, Tab Ramos or Claidio Reynas folks were born stateside. How American did their children (our future MNT players) feel growing up speaking Hungarian, or Spanish or Portuguese? How many times have they put on our strip and bled for us? How about those German Americans that you are trying to call out as not committed enough, whose father’s sacrificed for the country as members of our military? Or Mix”s mother who fell in love with a Norwegian? Their kids aren’t “American enough” for you? Wambach is saying you have to be a “stateside born” American to love the USA or have the “killer instinct” in a soccer game? Give me a break. Horshack, get your hand up, because when ever you speak about things like this, you make yourself seem just a little bit ignorant.

  15. The Dual Nationals were clearly able to make a living before the US National team LOL they were either millionaires or would shorty become millionaires so I don’t understand her point there.

    • Maybe she doesn’t understand how the men’s team and women’s teams work differently, lawsuit would certainly seem to show that.

    • I guess her rehab didn’t take. I just love it when people far removed from a situation, with no inside knowledge, think they are in a position to judge what’s in another person’s mind and heart.

      • Not sure that’s fair, Gary. She has an “insider” view, in that she too has spent her entire adult life in the US National team kit. That’s maybe not as “inside” as, say, Tim Howard, it’s certainly more “inside” than you and me. She has a keen understanding of exactly what it takes to win at the international level. She openly admits that the dual-national issue isn’t nearly as common in the USWNT as it is in the USMNT, which is why she says she’d want to have a dialog with these players.

        Seems pretty downright reasonable.

    • This doesn’t really have anything to do where a player was born but I would rather see guys doing well in MLS be given a chance over someone playing in a league like Norway.


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