2010 World Cup: Eight Reasons Why Americans Will Root for New Zealand
As the popularity of football continues to grow around the world, the dividing line between countries becomes more blurred. Players are getting dual citizenship and then deciding later whom to play for.
Footballers from smaller countries are finding opportunities at major clubs. Chelsea wouldn't have finished first in the English Premier League without the remarkable efforts of Didier Drogba, an Ivorian.
Members of the United States national team earn their living in countries such as Denmark, England, France, and Germany.
Players are even using the available resources in the U.S. to improve their status as a footballer. New Zealand is much better known for rugby and cricket than soccer, and players are finding opportunities here in the States to improve their skills.
There will always be split loyalties in the United States because America is a country of immigrants. In New Zealand's case, many Americans will be cheering for the All Whites because several of their players have connections in the U.S.
Certainly, there is no harm in Americans rooting for New Zealand since they most likely will only see them play three times.
Plus, watching the Kiwis could serve as a distraction away from an American team that could disappoint its fan base in this year's FIFA World Cup.
The citizens of Loretto, PA are ready for a celebration, and it is not because the winner of the 2010 National Geographic Bee found the town on a map.
Loretto's St. Francis University can claim Aaron Clapham as a former student.
It only makes sense that a redhead would play for the Red Flash.
After playing for St. Francis for two years, the Christchurch, New Zealand native transferred to the University of Louisville in 2007. In 37 games for the Cardinals, he scored eight goals.
After his college career was over, Clapham moved to Australia and appeared for Dandenong Thunder in the Victorian Premier League.
A surprise selection for New Zealand's World Cup squad, the 23-year-old has emerged as a rising midfielder in the New Zealand Football Championship for Canterbury United.
When Andy Barron went looking for a school in the States to play soccer at, he found William Carey University in Hattiesburg, MS to be the perfect fit. As a midfielder, Barron played for the Crusaders from 2000 to 2003.
At William Carey, he eventually was named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American and graduated with a degree in business management.
After playing in Ireland and New Zealand, Barron returned to the U.S. to play for the Minnesota Thunder of the United Soccer Leagues First Division in 2008.
After only participating in 11 games for the Thunder, he came back to New Zealand to play for Team Wellington midway through the NZFC 2008-09 campaign.
Now 29, Barron made his debut with the All Whites in the first match of a two-game friendly versus Malaysia on February 19, 2000.
Californians remember Tony Lochhead from his days at UC Santa Barbara. With his appointment to New Zealand's World Cup team, Lochhead has become the first Gaucho to play in a World Cup.
From 2001-04, Lochhead started all 83 games he appeared in and set a school record for minutes played.
As a senior, Lochhead helped UCSB to the NCAA Championship game, where the Gauchos lost to Indiana on penalty kicks. As a senior, he was a second-team All-American and the Big West Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.
Lochhead was drafted 33rd overall in the 2005 Major League Soccer SuperDraft by the New England Revolution, but did not sign until the season already commenced. He was waived by the Revolution in April 2007.
Since his exodus from the MLS, Lochhead has played in Australia's A-League for the Wellington Phoenix.
As a left-back, Lochhead has the daunting task of attempting to keep New Zealand's opponents from scoring. He certainly won't get bored during the World Cup.
Jeremy Christie is proof that players are constantly being scouted no matter where on the planet they are.
Despite playing professionally since 1999, Christie entered this year looking for a team that would provide him with the playing time necessary to keep him a viable option for World Cup selection.
Christie found himself playing for FC Tampa Bay in the USSF D2 Pro League. That league is a temporary professional soccer league to last just one season.
The formation of the league was the result of a compromise between the feuding USSF and the North American Soccer League.
In the five games that Christie appeared in for FC Tampa Bay, he has recorded one goal and one assist.
Although it may seem like a fairy tale story that Christie is playing in the World Cup, his selection is more of an indication of the overall weakness of New Zealand's side.
Born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1983, Andrew Boyens came to the United States to play soccer at the University of New Mexico in 2004. In his three years as a Lobo, Boyens had 11 goals and six assists as a central defender.
The Lobos recorded 35 shutouts in the three years Boyens was at New Mexico. In 2005, the Lobos advanced to the NCAA Championship but lost to Maryland.
In 2004, Boyens was selected the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Newcomer of the Year. The MPSF voted him Player of the Year in 2006.
Toronto FC drafted Boyens in the first round of the 2007 MLS SuperDraft in 2007 only to release him in April of 2008. Later that year, he was signed by the New York Red Bulls and has played with the club since then.
Boyens is known for his superiority in the air, and he needs to display that skill and more for New Zealand not to be embarrassed in Group F.
Tim Brown's dream of playing in a World Cup looked to be in jeopardy when he suffered a fracture to his upper arm after falling heavily in a tackle with Vince Grella during the first half of the May 24 friendly against Australia.
Brown quickly had surgery to insert three screws to secure his damaged right shoulder.
University of Cincinnati fans received a bit of good news when Brown recently left New Zealand to join his teammates in South Africa. He played for the Bearcats from 2000 to 2003.
Brown's help lead Cincinnati to a Conference USA regular season title and an NCAA tournament selection in 2003. As a Bearcat, he earned Academic All-American honors as well as All-Conference USA and All-Ohio accolades.
After graduating from Cincinnati with a degree in design, Brown played for the Richmond Kickers of the USL Second Division.
The All Whites will receive a boost if their vice-captain and central midfielder is able to participate in South Africa. Not only could New Zealand use his leadership skills, but Brown's high work rate and defensive skills would definitely come in handy.
Beginning in 1997, Simon Elliott played two seasons with Stanford University. In those two years as a Cardinal, he tallied 13 goals and 12 assists.
In 1998, Stanford played the NCAA Championship but lost to the Indiana Hoosiers 3-1. In that particular match, Elliott scored the only goal for the Cardinal.
After appearing in three games for the Boston Bulldogs in the A-League, which is now the USL First Division, Elliott signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS in May 1999. For the Galaxy, he scored 10 goals in 122 appearances.
Elliott helped the squad win the 2000 CONCACAF Champions' Cup, the U.S. Open Cup in 2001, and the 2002 MLS Cup.
In early 2004, Elliott was traded to the Columbus Crew for a first round pick in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft. After two years with the Crew, he played with Fulham of the EPL from 2006 to 2008.
Elliott came back to the MLS to play for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2009 but was released by the club before the beginning of the 2010 season.
In order to preserve his chances of playing in this year's World Cup, Elliott trained with the Galaxy.
Despite no current club affiliation and recently celebrating his 36th birthday, Elliott is still considered the best midfielder for the All Whites.
Born in 1977, Nelsen came to the United States in 1997 to play for Greensboro College in North Carolina. In 1998, he led the Pride to the NCAA Division III Championship game.
After transferring to Stanford in 1999, Nelsen was named the Cardinal's Most Valuable Player as a junior and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American as a senior while playing as a defensive midfielder.
Nelsen was drafted fourth overall in the 2001 MLS SuperDraft by D.C. United. Playing as a defender, Nelsn was named team captain in 2003. He was voted a a member of the league's Best XI in both 2003 and 2004.
In four years in the MLS Nelsen tallied seven goals and five assists. He also helped D.C. United win the 2004 MLS Cup.
After the 2004 MLS season, Nelsen moved to the Blackburn Rovers of the EPL on a free transfer.
With Blackburn, he has scored five goals in 143 appearances and significantly enhanced his international reputation.
Not only is Nelsen New Zealand's captain, he is regarded as being the squad's best and most accomplished player. Nelsen is viewed as a star on a team that possesses precious few top-class players.