Monday, June 23, 2014

Why there are so many German players on the 2014 USA World Cup Team

I've added photos and notes to an extent where I've now lost the original article.  I'll post it preliminarily, but return to edit it as soon as I have the source.  --rsb

Five German-Americans, 21% of the entire team, made the U.S. 23-man roster for the World Cup in Brazil.  There's also an Icelandic-American and a Norwegian-American, in addition to players of Colombian, Mexican, and Haitian descent. 

When he took over as coach in 2011, Jurgen Klinsmann said, "Soccer in a way reflects the culture of a country."  Three years later, he's taking a team to the World Cup that's fittingly diverse and multicultural.  The German-Americans are the biggest bloc of dual-nationals on the team.  Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, and Julian Green are all in Brazil.

This German influx isn't random, and it has little to do with Klinsmann being a German soccer legend. The U.S. has had tens of thousands of troops stationed in Germany for 60 years. Of the five German-Americans in the U.S. squad, four were born in Germany to American fathers in the military. The fifth, the Tampa-born Green, is also the son of a U.S. solider.

There's a large pool of U.S.-eligible players living in Germany and benefiting from the cultural and developmental advantages it has over the United States when it comes to soccer. Assuming coaches and scouts can identify and recruit German-Americans in Germany at a young age, it's a valuable pipeline for the U.S. soccer program.

Fabian Johnson (of Munich)  is starting for the U.S. in Brazil
Kevin Johnson/Getty Images

Has played for 1860 Munich (2006-09), Wolfsburg (2009-11) and Hoffenheim (2011-14), and in February agreed to sign with Borussia Mönchengladbach for next season.

julian green
 Julian Green was born in Tampa and at age 2 moved to Berlin.  He's 18 years old, and has just joined Bayern München last November.   REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad  
Because of the wealth of talent in Germany, these dual-nationals have a much better chance of playing regular, international soccer on the U.S. team. As a result, guys who have spent most of their lives in Germany — which all five of the players on the 2014 World Cup roster have — are committing to the U.S. more than ever.
 This German influence isn't new.  The U.S. captain at the 1998 World Cup, German-born Thomas Dooley, couldn't speak English when he committed to the U.S. team for the first time.  But since Klinsmann took over in 2011 the number of German-Americans has increased. Youth coach Thomas Rongen told the New York Times in 2011 that it's just a coincidence that more German-Americans are committing to the U.S. now that Klinsmann's coach.

Indeed, Klinsmann has been aggressive in pursuing dual-nationals from Mexico and Scandinavia and anywhere else where you can find a good soccer player with an American passport.  Clearly Klinsmann's celebrity status in Germany — as well as his boundless enthusiasm — are an asset when recruiting German-Americans.   But these charms are helpful no matter where a player is from, and it just so happens that the largest concentration of U.S.-eligible players in Europe is in Germany.

John Brooks   (20)  Hometown:  Berlin
Here he's just scored the go-ahead goal against Ghana in the first game of the 2014 World Cup.
Helped Hertha Berlin in 2012-13,  earn its promotion back to the Bundesliga.

Timmy Chandler  (24)   Hometown:  Frankfurt, Germany  Tore meniscus in left knee against Bayern Munich on Feb. 8, had surgery and returned to action April 26.

Jermaine Jones   (33)  Hometown:  Frankfurt    
Shown here after scoring the go-ahead goal against Portugal, in Game 2 in Brazil.

Made debut for German national team as a substitute against Austria on Feb. 6, 2008, then appeared against Belarus on May 27 and England on Nov. 19 — all exhibitions. Was among Germany coach Joachim Loew's final roster cuts for the 2008 European Championship, and in 2009 he asked FIFA for a change in affiliation last summer. ...(U.S. debut in October 2010.  Played for Eintracht Frankfurt (1999-04, 2005-07), Bayer Leverkusen (2004-05), Schalke (2007-14), Blackburn (2011) and Besiktas in Istanbul (2014).

No comments:

Post a Comment