i have to admit that i have been overly focused on the USMNT in the last few weeks. it’s not like i don’t have my reasons though. i mean i am american, and i do support my own national team first and foremost. and for a change, the national team is relevant in the national sports landscape, so i’m getting way more news about the team than i had in years past.
but there is so much else going on with the upcoming world cup, let alone the rest of the world of football, that i’m beginning to feel a little one dimensional at the moment. so let’s change it up a little.
the story of this world cup (so far) can be easily summed up with one word: snubs.
there are some ridiculously major names that have been snubbed off their world cup rosters. i wrote a piece a while back that outlined the best players that wouldn’t be going to the world cup, but that was mostly about players whose teams didn’t qualify.
well we could easily construct another list just as long with even more great players who were simply cut from their country’s world cup squad. these are players like theo walcott and adam johnson from england (i’m still raging that capello didn’t take johnson, and i think he’ll regret it when he finally puts shaun wright-phillips in), pato and ronaldinho from brazil (not surprising though), zanetti and cambiasso from argentina (this is further proof of maradona’s lack of brain), benni mccarthy for south africa, and totti and giuseppe rossi for italy.
maybe we could get an “alterna-cup” with a team of these guys playing against my original column’s roster? i would definitely watch that game.
but what really interests me about this new list is the very last name i mentioned. the exclusion of villareal striker giuseppe rossi wasn’t a huge shock, but at the same time he performed really well for italy in the confederations cup last summer. remember his goals against the USMNT? i certainly do, and also certainly remember him celebrating like a 12-year-old little girl and rubbing it in our faces.
if you were wondering if i sounded bitter in that last sentence, you’re right. but why?
well just in case you didn’t know, rossi was born in new jersey to italian parents. after being snubbed by the US olympic development program at the state level (take this time to un-swallow your tongue), gio used his dual citizenship with italy to represent italians at the u-16 through u-21 levels. he’s also one of the hottest properties in europe right now, and i would be shocked if the yellow submarines don’t cash in on him this summer.
his desire to play for the full azzuri team was so strong that he turned down a chance to play with the USMNT at the 2006 world cup. needless to say, we seriously dropped the ball at the beginning of his career.
but his decision to turn down his birth nation left me hating him just a little bit… at least as a person. on the pitch, i think he’s a fantastic footballer and the most talented player our country has ever produced (sorry landon and clint… perform like he does at the level he does, and i’ll reconsider).
and that’s what really chaps my ass about the entire situation. you see, rossi is currently a fringe player for the italians. he’s still young (only 23) and has a fantastic opportunity to advance his game and make it into the 2014 tournament and beyond. but that’s assuming that another young player doesn’t crop up between now and then and steal his place, which is a very real possibility.
had he played for the US, he would be a guaranteed starter and one of the biggest stars of the show. we wouldn’t have to be freaking out about charlie davies not making the squad if that were the case. he would have gotten to play in probably three world cups, maybe even four. and if playing in the world cup is the ultimate goal, then his ship could possibly have sailed.
i do get why he did it, though. and i doubt that playing in a world cup is his primary motivation. if i could, i would rather play for a world class national side that has a chance to win world cups. the US is still years away from being considered that class of a team.
but i can still feel bitter, because he turned us down like a jerk.
so that’s why when i saw that rossi didn’t make italy’s final 23-man squad, i couldn’t help but smile. i know i should probably feel a little bad for him, as i would certainly feel crushed if i were in his position. but turning your back on my national team is something that i can’t exactly forget.
karma is a bitch sometimes, and i’m sure rossi is feeling the burn right now.
enjoy your couch like the rest of us, gio. and when you watch the USMNT play, i hope that you have a tiny voice in the back of your head saying, “what if… what if…”