Of Nationalities and National Teams
I’m sure you all recall the crushing blow the US faced when that guy decided he’d rather reject his New Jersey roots and instead pretend his Italian parents never ever moved to the US in the first place. And now, I guess that other guy is gonna throw his hat in the ring for Serbia (his ethnicity) instead of the US (where he played as a youth)… or Bosnia (where he was born)… but apparently not Germany (cause he played for the US first so Germany got all mad or something). Oh right, and that other other guy got sick of all the red tape and decided to pick his birth country, Mali, over the US.
Basically a national team allegiance can be somewhat fluid – until you hit 21 years (or 23 years on the women’s side) – then you gotta make your permanent choice. And while the men’s side has clearly lost and won quite a few players to this rule, the women’s side in the US is actually in a very unique position. It seems, our country’s push for gender equality in sports at the High School and University level, as well as our somewhat odd belief that soccer is a sport girls mostly play, created an elite player development system envied by much of the world. And other countries have been actively recruiting American players with multiple lineages for many years now. I’ll let Timothy Grainey at The Global Game explain further:
Ahead of the 1999 Women’s World Cup in the United States, Mexico stocked more than half of its roster with American collegians of Mexican descent. Eight American college players and graduates with Greek ancestry supported 10 home-based players to build a side before Greece hosted the 2004 Olympic Games. Seeking players with Irish roots, the coach of Ireland’s national women’s team in early September attended a player combine for Women’s Professional Soccer, which will become America’s top division when it launches next spring.
So if you are female and it’s unlikely you’ll ever get that call from Pia, and you can somehow claim a foreign heritage of some sort, then you may still have that national team shot (although Mexico and Greece have apparently since changed their policies to only call-up native players). As mentioned above, Ireland was actively pursuing Irish-Americans during the last WPS Combine and now Portugal will be holding national team tryouts in Newark, New Jersey November 29-30. The criteria is a Portugese parent or grandparent and no senior national team caps. Yup, that appears to be it. It just may be time for some of us to unleash our inner C-Rons. Just lay off the self-tanner and the douche-baggery, ladies.
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