Los Angeles Soccer: Giuseppe Rossi
April, 6, 2011
By Scott French | ESPNLosAngeles.com
The big news in MLS this week was 18-year-old D.C. United midfielder Andy Najar's decision to commit to play for Honduras' national team rather than for the U.S., choosing the country of his birth over the land he's called home since he was 13.
Last year's MLS rookie of the year said he followed his heart, and the decision makes sense: He's a green-card holder but would need at least two years to receive U.S. citizenship and become eligible for the Yanks; with Honduras, he can play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June and, if the Catrachos qualify, in next year's London Olympics.
Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena, whose team Saturday takes on Najar and D.C., says he hasn't followed the winger's situation, that he has "no background on this whole process with him and his thinking and the two federations that are competing for the player's services," but he's been in the middle of such a tête-à-tête, back when he was the U.S. national team's coach.
Arena and U.S. Soccer pursued New Jersey-born Giuseppe Rossi when he was an 18-year-old forward at Manchester United, back in 2005. Rossi's father moved him to Italy, to join Parma's youth program, when he was 12, and the player has gone from success to success and now stars for Villarreal in Spain.
Rossi resisted U.S. entreaties and committed to Italy.
"We did our best to convince him to play with the U.S.," Arena said Wednesday, "but his preference was Italy, and that's the way it goes."