Bruce Arena, Get Him!
By Imtiaz Mussa
Keep it here at Sportszilla as in the coming months, we will get you prepared for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The first match takes place on June 9th.
When you go to Old Trafford; the home of Manchester United, it is quite easy to recognize such great players as Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ryan Giggs, or Paul Scholes. But there is a player who is starting to make himself noticed. In the summer of 2004, Sir Alex Ferguson signed a 16 year old from cash strapped Parma. Fans didn’t take too much notice until this season. The kid is flying all over the pitch and has that knack for scoring goals. Now they are starting to recognize him and so is a certain national team manager. His name is Giuseppe Rossi.
Rossi had Italian parents, dreamt of playing for Italy one day, and joined the Parma youth ranks at the age of 13. But, he was actually born and raised in Clifton, New Jersey. But because of his Italian parents, he earned dual citizenship and has the ability to choose which country to represent. The ability to choose which country to represent is something that is somewhat common in football.
Staying with Manchester United, Ryan Giggs is the star on the Welsh national team. Unfortunately, Wales will not make the World Cup while Giggs is playing. It is popular belief that Giggs actually had to choose whether to play for Wales or England. That is false. Ryan went to school in England and played for the England schoolboys. But because his parents and grandparents were Welsh, he could only play for the Welsh senior side. However, one that is accurate is the story of Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves. Hargreaves was born in Canada to British immigrants. His two older brothers were born in Wales and England. He left Canada to join Bayern Munich in Germany when he was 15. Therefore, he could play for Canada because he was born there, Wales because his mother was born there, England because his father was born there, and Germany because he has residential rights. Hargreaves chose England.
So back to Rossi, as the Guardian has reported, Bruce Arena is looking to have Rossi play for the United States. But what can Arena offer Rossi that the Azurri will not? How about a spot on the United States roster for the upcoming World Cup? Italy has yet to actually include Rossi on any one of their youth sides. In reaction to my post projecting the United States roster for Germany 2006, Zach asked about Freddy Adu and what his chances are of making the team. I said that he doesn’t have much of a chance because he is too young but will be in the fold when South Africa 2010 comes around. I also said that there are 23 players who are deserving of going to Germany and I stand by that. However, the United States has to build for the future as well and being able to add a player the calibur of Rossi to that mix would be huge. In 2010, it would be amazing to think of what the United States could have up front. Freddy Adu and Eddie Johnson would form a strike partnership with Rossi and Beasley flying down the wings and Landon Donovan playing behind the strikers in a setup role. Just get a solid defensive midfielder and sit back and enjoy the show. But enough dreaming, he may have been born and raised in New Jersey but Rossi has no more family in the United States. They followed him to Parma and then Manchester. Therefore, his decision will have to come down to this question, “Does he want to spend an entire career trying to get into the Italian side or take Arena’s offer and know he can be a piece of the American puzzle now?”
There isn’t much quality at the attacking midfield/winger ranks in the American youth system so as long as Rossi can establish himself somewhere in Europe (hopefully United), he should be a big part of the national team for a long time. However, can he deal with the fact that he may never be a star in the country he represents?
Freddy Adu is trying to reverse that but it is an uphill battle.