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Friday, August 10, 2007

Now Rossi Should Choose the U.S. by Jim Riggio

Now Rossi Should Choose the U.S.

By James Riggio for World Football Commentaries.

The time has come when Giuseppe Rossi has to make yet another important decision.

Just when the 20-year-old New Jersey native thought he was finished, he will soon have to make up his mind of what to do as far as his international career goes. Perhaps he already has, having made it clear that he wants to represent Italy, the birth nation of his parents. He moved back to Italy when he was 13.

But just days after his transfer from English power Manchester United to Spain’s Villareal, Rossi certainly has to be disappointed that he will not end up playing in the Italian Serie A this season.

Apparently nine goals in 19 games to help save Parma from relegation was not enough for any Italian squad to put forward the 10 million euros it cost Spanish club Villareal to buy Rossi.

The situation becomes interesting now for Rossi who has played for Italy at the Under 16-, U-17, U-18 and U-21 national teams.

He does not have a cap with Italy’s senior national team, meaning he is still eligible to play for the United States. Although times are changing, Italy generally does not select very many national team players that play outside of Serie A. Especially those who are not already fixtures in the national team.

So this creates an interesting situation now for Rossi. Before he is eligible to buy a beer in the U.S., he will have played in all three of the top leagues in the world –the English Premiership, Serie A and Spain’s La Liga. With Villareal, he will be playing for a team that was playing in the UEFA Champions League semifinals just two seasons ago. And there is a clause in his contract allowing Manchester United to repurchase him in the future if it chooses to do so.

Rossi can be a world class player without ever stepping foot in Italy again. Therefore, it would seem like a good idea if Rossi bailed on Italy and decided to play for New Jersey-native Bob Bradley, the U.S. National Team coach.

With the U.S., Rossi would move into the starting lineup from day one.

If he continues to play as he has shown, Rossi would also give the U.S. its first player that is actually in high demand by the best clubs in the world.

While the U.S. National Team will never be as popular as the Azzurri are in Italy, Rossi can be the shining star symbol that would get much of the attention that Landon Donovan now enjoys. Rossi might actually get some endorsements and a little more money out of this.

Picking the U.S. over the world champions would instantly open the eyes of those who believe in American soccer. It would also generate some more interest for American soccer fans.

My advice to Rossi would be to play for the U.S. He was born here, and not given the treatment he deserves in Italy. He should make Italy and its clubs realize it made a huge mistake by not buying him, and keeping him at home on the peninsula.

And after all, playing for the greatest country in the world isn’t exactly something to frown upon.

About the Author

Mr. Riggio has written about Italian and international soccer for ESPN/Soccernet, and was an interviewee for my column at AC Cugini Scuola Calcio. Last summer, he contributed an interview with Gianluca Zambrotta for my World Football site.

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