California-Born Michael Hoyos Making a Big Splash In Argentina
With the pain of New Jersey-born Giussepe Rossi's decision to play for Italy, and subsequently score two goals against the United States in last summer's Confederations Cup, still stinging, the fans of the United States Men's National Team could feel a sense of Deja Vu as another top prospect born in the United States seems to be leaning away from ever representing the USA.
Born and raised in California, Michael Hoyos attended Santa Margarita Catholic High School before moving with his mother and younger brother, Kevin, to Argentina when he was 15.
Although he has admitted to being a fan of Buenos Aires Giants Boca Juniors, Hoyos joined Estudiantes de La Plata, the capital of the Buenos Aires province, after a trial.
After coming through the Estudiantes system, Hoyos announced his arrival to the Argentina Public in January 2010 at the Summer Tournament held in Mar del Plata, when he smashed a 30-yard strike past former Argentina National Team goalkeeper Roberto "El Pato" Abbondonzieri in Estudiantes' 4-1 demolition of his favorite team: Boca Juniors.
Although regular playing time did not come for Hoyos during the 2010 Clausura, he did make five appearances as a substitute, getting a chance to play alongside the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron and Clemente Rodriguez, both members of Argentina's 2010 World Cup squad.
After obtaining his Argentine passport, Hoyos caught the eye of Argentina's Under 20 manager and 1986 World Cup winner, Sergio Batista, and was called up to the side to play in a hexagonal tournament in Paraguay.
In his first match in Argentine colors, Hoyos cut in from the right and blasted a shot from outside of the area into the top left corner to score his team's only goal just 15 minutes into a 1-0 victory over Uruguay.
Despite being held scoreless by Mexico in the following match, Argentina was the far superior side with Hoyos instigating a number of impressive moves and forcing a few good saves from the Mexican keeper.
Now, tonight in Asuncion, Hoyos and Argentina will take on Colombia in the Final of the tournament.
Although many regulars in the Argentina Under 20 set up such as Rogelio Funes Mori and Roberto Pereyra were left out, the Californian has a very good chance of making into Argentina's team that will play for the South American Under 20 Championship in January.
Also on the line in that tournament is qualification not only for the 2011 Under 20 World Cup (to be played in Colombia), but for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
These outcomes of the upcoming competitions will most likely decide Hoyos' final decision regarding who he will choose to represent at the full senior level.
Michael has stated that he is leaning towards Argentina, and the fact that he has moved to La Plata full time and comes at the recommendation of Batista, the interim coach of Argentina's National Team, does not bode well for the US Men's National Team's chances of seeing Hoyos in the red, white, and blue.
The current favorite to take over as Argentina's next manager is also Hoyos' current coach at Estudiantes, Alejandro Sabella, who could have the youngster in mind should he continue to make strides at both club and youth levels.
During Estudiantes' upcoming Aperatura campaign, set to kick off August 7th in Rosario against Newell's Old Boys, Hoyos will feel more confident about getting a regular run out with the first team after Bayern Munich's Jose Sosa ended his loan spell in La Plata.
Even though US fans should be proud of all Hoyos has accomplished at just 18, the question must be asked: How did a kid born and raised in the States until high school, slip through the cracks and end up at a club that has four times been crowned Champions of South America?
Since his move, Hoyos has received an invitation to a training camps with the US youth side, but turned it down, choosing to concentrate on Estudiantes.
Although no one can deny that Hoyos is extremely proud of his Argentine roots and was always likely to give his all to play for the South American country, there is certainly a feeling that the US did not do its best to lock him down as an American player.
In most other countries (Argentina included), talented kids are spotted at a young age and immediately signed up by the top clubs to come through the youth ranks and later brought into the inferior ranks of the National Team long before they make their first debut at the club level.
The way MLS is structured with a draft prevents clubs from signing players, causing one to ponder if players like Hoyos or Rossi would have left the United States had they been integrated into local club sides before reaching their teenage years?
The US can only improve as a footballing nation by snapping up the children of immigrants rather than allowing them to go back to their fatherland in pursuit of achieving their dreams.
It is not just the case of first or second-generation immigrants, but those born outside of the United States who come as children, only to leave rather than trying their luck with an MLS club.
Rogelio Funes Mori and his twin brother Ramiro moved to Texas from Mendoza, Argentina at the age of nine, where they won the Sueno MLS competition and a chance with FC Dallas.
Rather than sticking with the Texas side, the Mori twins went across the pond for a trial at Chelsea.
After not being able to make into the Chelsea system, the Mori brothers returned to Argentina and began a career in the youth system at River Plate.
Rogelio, now just 19, has already made big splashes with River, netting a hat trick against arch rival Racing Club last May, and should be one of the key figures at the South American Under 20 Championships in January.
There is now a very strong likelyhood that three players with strong ties to the United States will all be representing Argentina this winter.
Whether or not this was avoidable is up for debate, but US fans will surely be disappointed a better run was not made for such players.
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