US National Team: The All Foreign Born Eleven

Matt BernsteinContributor IAugust 29, 2011

US National Team: The All Foreign Born Eleven

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    As one of the world's largest melting pots, it makes sense that the National Team representing the United States of America has a large amount of foreign-born players that are eligible to play for them.   It's very important for the US to utilize this international talent, because it brings a different flare to the brand of US Soccer, as well as getting the players committed before they decide to jump to another country.  I decided it would be interesting to construct a squad for the US using all foreign-born players and thus this slideshow was born.  Please enjoy.

Goalkeeper- David Yelldell

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    Age: 29

    Club: Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)

    Country of Birth: Germany

    The 29-year old keeper begins a very large German influence on the list.  As the son of a US Serviceman and a German mother, Yelldell was eligible for both countries.  Yelldell received his first international CAP against Paraguay earlier this year and recently joined German Giants, Leverkusen, after a stint with 2. Bundesliga side Duisburg.  I would much rather see Klinsmann give his fellow German reps behind Tim Howard rather than the recent love affair he's been having with Bill Hamid.

    Reserve GK- Quentin Westburg

    Age: 25

    Club:  Évian TG (France)

    Country of Birth: France

    Relieving Yelldell on the all foreign-born squad would be French-American Quentin Westburg who has recently been starting for Ligue 1 side Évian TG.  Westburg has played for the US U-17 and U-20 teams.

Defense- Timothy Chandler

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    Age: 21

    Club: 1. FC Nuremberg (Germany)

    Country of Birth: Germany

    Timmy Chandler is perhaps the most talented player on the list and on the US back-line.  Like Yelldell, Chandler was born in Germany to an African-American serviceman and a German mother.  Since choosing the US, Chandler's story has been well publicized.  After making his international debut against Argentina and then getting his second CAP versus Paraguay, Chandler has been a cause of worry for many fans of the Stars and Stripes.  T-Chand was left off the Gold Cup Squad and removed from the August 10 squad because of injury, even though he played for Nuremberg the following day.  Although he has reassured his commitment to the US, fans can't help but wonder if he has gotten cold feet.  Klinsmann named Chandler to the squad for the September friendlies, hopefully meaning he stays with the US and gets CAP-tied next Summer.

Defense- Fabian Johnson

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    Age: 23

    Club: 1899 Hoffenheim (Germany)

    Country of Birth: Germany

    Fabian Johnson's name is one that has garnered much attention over the past week.  The Hoffenheim defender has played for the German U-19, U-20 and U-21 teams and just announced on August 20 that he'd be open to a switch to the US.  Low and behold, on August 25 his fellow German, Klinsmann, selected Johnson for the squad that will face Costa Rica and Belgium.  Although born and raised in Germany, Johnson was, as you've probably guessed, the son of an American serviceman and a German woman- making him eligible for the USMNT.  Although much unknown by US fans, the "New American" will now be closely followed at Hoffenheim and during the September friendlies.

Defense- Jermaine Jones

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    Age: 29

    Club: Schalke 04 (Germany)

    Country of Birth: Germany

    By now, it probably looks more likely that I'm drafting up a German B-Team than a US National Squad.  Jones addition to the list extends the streak of US players born in Germany to an African-American soldier and a German mother to 4. After appearing for the German U-21 squad and even suiting up for 3 friendlies with the German National Team, American fans were pumped when the German-born defender was cleared by FIFA to switch national teams in late 2009.  Jones did not recover from injury in time to be part of the 2010 World Cup squad and has since participated in several friendlies and the 2011 Gold Cup.  Unfortunately, Jones performance for the Stars and Stripes has been sub-par, leading to his absence from the September friendly squad.  Jones has also been lacking on the club side.  Jermaine was loaned away from Schalke in January of this year, and spent the second half of the season facing off with some of the best players in the world for EPL side, Blackburn Rovers.  Unfortunately for Jones, he was returned to Schalke at the end of the season and has seen been lucky just to suit up, seeing nearly no playing time, in the early 2011-12 season.  Although primarily a defensive-mid, the US has an abundance of foreign-born mids and a lack of defenders, making Jones a defender for the purpose of this article.

Defense- Gale Agbossoumonde

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    Age: 19

    Club: Unattached

    Country of Birth: Togo

    Thus ends the German portion of the list.  If you noticed that 19-Year Old Gale Agbossoumonde's club says "unattached" and wondered why is he on this list, you're not alone.  Unfortunately, the US has a thin foreign-born back-line as well as their regular Defensive pool.  The extremely talented Togolese refugee, who 's family moved to New York when he was 8, already has a CAP for the USMNT and has played for Swedish club Djurgården, but made some regretable decisions when it comes to signing contracts.  "Boss", as he's known, shunned offers from three top Spainsh clubs in 09, citing he was "not ready", and subsequently rejected several MLS offers for being too low.  He was then introduced to Traffic Sports, a Brazilian company that owns the rights of players and rents them out to the club with the highest offer.  "Boss" was told he would be payed well to play a few matches for Miami FC, their USL club, before being sent out to Europe in preparation of the U-20 World Cup.  After several loans spells in Europe, Agbossmounde claims he regrets signing with Traffic, sighting that he has to do "what they say, and play for whatever club they choose".  Gale was described in late 2010 by then U-20 coach, Thomas Rongen, as "physically and emotionally totally shot".  Agbossoumonde is currently on trail with Bundesliga side FC Cologne and has played for their U-21 side.  On the bright side, "Boss" is still a teenager and has been praised highly by every coach he has played for.  Hopefully, Agbossoumonde will return into the USMNT picture soon, possibly for the Olympic squad.

    Reserve Defense- Alfredo Morales

    Age: 21

    Club:  Hertha BSC (Germany)

    Country of Birth: Germany

    Alfredo Morales is very unknown to most US Soccer fans.  Morales is another German with US citizenship but has not represent either country at the youth or senior level.  Although he plays for Bundesliga side, Hertha Berlin, Morales has spent most of his young career on the bench or the reserve squad.  Agbossmounde beats out Morales for the final defensive spot due to his extreme upside and US Senior Team CAP.

Midfield- Mikkel Diskerud

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    Age: 20

    Club: Stabæk (Norway)

    Country of Birth: Norway

    "Mixx" Diskerud was born and raised in Oslo, Norway to a Norwegian father and an American mother from Arizona.  Diskerud has represented both Norway and  the US at the youth levels and announced in 2009 that he would play for whichever team gave him a Senior Call-Up first.  He was discovered by former U-20 coach, Thomas Rongen, in 2009 and made a stellar debut for the Senior Team in November 2010.  This being said, just about every US fan has anticipated him regularly playing for the USMNT in 2011.  Unfortuanatly, "Mixx" has been snubbed  from every US roster since the Paraguay friendly in March, from the Gold Cup to the recent September friendly announcement.  Diskerud's snubbing from both of Klinsmann's rosters has left many extremely surprised and wondering why Klinsmann has felt inclined to use so many MLSers in the midfield like Robbie Rogers and Jeff Larentowicz, instead of Diskerud who has been tearing up the Tippeligaen at Stabæk.  This has been especially strange, considering that Mixx still is not CAP-tied to the US and could still jump to Norway if he is continuously left off rosters.  Diskerud is another intriguing name that should be on the U-23 Olympic Team and hopefully on Klinsmann's rosters to come with World Cup Qualifying fast approaching.

Midfield- Stuart Holden

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    Age: 26

    Club: Bolton Wanderers (England)

    Country of Birth: Scotland

    The photo above this slide is of Stu Holden winning a header against Anotonio Valencia of Manchester United.  Yes, that Manchester United.  That was pretty much how the Scottish-born, Texas-raised Bolton midfielder was doing over the 2010-11 season.  That was until March 19 of this year when Holden's knee was injured in a tackle with Johnny Evans, of Manchester United.  Holden missed with final 2 months of the season and Bolton plummeted in the table.  This came almost exactly a year after Holden broke his leg in the World Cup tune-up against the Dutch but still played a limited roll in the World Cup.  Even though he missed the final two months of last season, Holden was still named the Bolton Wanderers player of the year.  That's pretty amazing, knowing that an American won the Player of the Year for an EPL squad.  However, the Bolton star is still out, but has started training with the club and eyes an October return- one that can't come soon enough for the Trotters.  The former Clemson Tiger and Houston Dynamo is now considered one of, if not the best player in the entire US Player pool.  Hopefully, Holden will pick up right where he left off when he returns later this season and will be ready to help Klinsmann and Co. for World Cup Qualifying next June.

Midfield- Benny Feilhaber

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    Age: 26

    Club: New England Revolution

    Country of Birth: Brazil

    Benny Feilhaber was born into a Jewish Austrian-Brazilian family in Rio de Janeiro, before moving to the New York suburb of Scarsdale at the age of 6.  The Brazilian-born mid was a walk-on at UCLA where he starred and played for the US at the 2005 U-20 World Cup in the Netherlands.  Feilhaber's club career took him to the Bundesliga where he played for Hamburg and the EPL where he played for Derby County for one season, before they were relegated back down to the Championship.  Benny had played for Danish side AGF Aarhus since 2008, but was sold to the MLS in April of this year, where he was assigned to the New England Revolution.  Benny has been an integral part of the US National Team since 2007 and was on the 2010 World Cup Squad.  An injured Feilhaber was removed from the Gold Cup Squad and has not been on Klinsmann's roster yet.  Feilhaber has played well in the MLS and will hopefully return soon to the Stars and Stripes.

Midfield- Freddy Adu

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    Age: 22

    Club: Philadelphia Union

    Country of Birth: Ghana

    I'm not going to use this slide to bore you with the story of Freddy Adu's career. Most of us know that Adu joined DC United as a 14-year old prodigy and jumped to Europe at age 17, where he was loaned by Benfica to a plethora of clubs before his career imploded.  However, in one of his most controversial acts as manager, Bob Bradley selected Adu for his Gold Cup Squad.  Bradley's move payed off as Adu had a spectacular Gold Cup performance.  Thus, beginning a new era in Freddy Adu's career.  Adu is now back where he should be, in Major League Soccer, suiting up for the Philadelphia Union.  The best part of Freddy Adu's resurgence is that he's only 22, young enough to start his career all over again.  Adu is still younger than the age when most MLS Stars decide to take their talents to Europe, which still could be in his future plans.  I believe that it would be smart for the Ghananian-born Attacking Mid to play a few seasons in the MLS and fully return into the USMNT Program before trying the Europe experiment once again.

    Reserve Midfielder: Let me know if you find one

    While midfield is by far the the most talented position among foreign-born Americans, there are five great mids (including Jones) and really none after that.  The best I could find would be the young Portland Timbers winger, Darlington Nagbe, who was born in Liberia.  However, he's still in the process of becoming a citizen and is therefore not yet eligible for the USMNT.  Please let me know if you find a talented foreign-born, US eligible mid and I'd be happy to put him on the list.

Forward- Juan Agudelo

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    Age: 18

    Club: New York Red Bulls

    Country of Birth: Colombia

    Juan Agudelo has a lot more going for him than most 18-year olds.  For starters, he's an MLS All-Star and has 11 CAPs and 2 goals with US Senior Team.  Not to mention that he's been featured in an Adidas ad and has played against the likes of Wayne Rooney, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi.  It truly has been impressive that Agudelo, who has been called "something special" by Red Bulls coach Hans Backe, has become a regular for the US National Team at such a young age.  Agudelo, who's family immigrated to the New Jersey from Manizales, Colombia when he was seven, is already CAP-tied to the US.  This means he won't leave the USSF hanging and jump to another country (Colombia) like another player from New Jersey, who's name will not be mentioned, did.  Agudelo now must play with the labeling of the "Next Big Thing" or ,dare I say, "Soccer Savior" pinned to his back.  Luckily, Agudelo is taking his time and maturing in the MLS before making a possible European move. 

Forward- Teal Bunbury

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    Age: 21

    Club: Sporting Kansas City

    Country of Birth: Canada

    If you're born to an American mother and a Guyanese father, and turn out to be a successful footballer, you would have two choices of national teams to play for.  Or you could be born in Canada to one of the most greatest Canadian nationals of all-time.  That's the spot that Sporting Kansas City Striker, Teal Bunbury, found himself in.  Bunbury was born in Ontario and then left the Great White North at the age of 2 to travel with his father, Alex Bunbury, as he played for clubs in England and Portugal, before settling in Minnesota at age 10.  Teal played NCAA Soccer at Akron and left early to sign a Generation Adidas Contract and be drafted by Sporting KC, he even had a trial in December 2010 with EPL side Stoke City.  Going back to the international side, Bunbury played for the Canada U-17 and U-20 teams and said it would be "wrong" to play for the US.  However, when the USSF came calling, Bunbury joined the Yanks against South Africa and Chile.  The Sporting Striker was selected by Klinsmann for the September friendlies and although not yet CAP-tied could possibly join Agudelo as the striker of the future.

    Reserve Forward: Yevgeni Starikov

    Age: 22

    Club: Tom Tomsk (on loan from Zenit St. Petersburg- Russia)

    Country of Birth: Ukrainian SSR (modern-day Ukraine)

    Yevgeni "Eugene" Starikov was born in Ukraine, but grew up in Southern California.  He has been playing for Tom Tomsk of the Russian Premier League.  The choice between Bunbury and Starikov was probably the most difficult of the list.  Although Starikov was called-up for the Chile game, Bunbury was chosen because of his 2 CAPs and one goal to Starikov's none and because Teal Bun-B has a more stable club situation.  However, Yevgeni is still young and playing in a quality league, which should earn him call-ups to come.

Conclusion

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    So, the real question is.....How would this team actually fare in a game?  In my opinion, the answer is good.  When you break down the players, all of them have been CAP'd (or soon to be, Fabian Johnson) and most are regulars or considered future stars. The fact that Stuart Holden, who (when healthy) may be the best American player the USSF has to offer, is on this hypothetical squad, really boosts this teams chances to win.  Holden would be joined by regulars Benny Feilhaber and Jermaine Jones, as well as future playmakers like Agudelo, Diskerud, Chandler and Bunbury.  Four of the players are even on Klinsmann's current squad for the upcoming friendlies.  All in all, I believe this team would have a chance to beat another "upper middle-class" international squad, such as the game against Ecuador in October.  The chances of ever having an all Foreign-born 11 are small, but it's important for the USSF to take advantage and pursuing the international talent that continues to become more and more available.

    Thanks for Reading!  Please give me feedback on what you thought of the list!