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Giuseppe Rossi Will Be Playing for…..Nobody

Sports News - May 26, 2010

The best American striker – and a guaranteed starter against England on June 12 – was not destined to be Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies or (certainly) Robbie Findley.  The best American striker is New Jersey-born, rap-music loving, Playstation-playing Giuseppe Rossi.  Unfortunately, four years ago Rossi turned down the opportunity to play with the US to make himself available for Italy, where he father was born and where he holds a passport to go with his American citizenship.  Today Rossi was cut from the Italian team and will be watching the World Cup on TV.

“Off the field, I have always felt American. On the field I’ve always felt Italian,” Rossi told ESPN last month.  I guess he is set for a very American summer as he will not be seen on a soccer pitch for the next couple of months.

All gloating aside, this is bad news for Rossi.  Coming off a good year for Villarreal (a career-high 17 goals in 46 appearances), Rossi is out of contract and free to go to any team.  A solid World Cup appearance would have increased his demand and fattened his next contract.  However, being cut from the Italian team will not help his future plans.

Italian soccer is very provincial, and despite his solid season in Spain and a good performance in the Confederations Cup last summer, Rossi was viewed as a little bit of an odd-duck by the Italian soccer community.  His youth was spent in Teaneck, New Jersey and his training was as an academy player for Manchester United, and he simply never fully bonded into the Italian soccer society.

For the rest of the world, there is a lesson to be had here.  As Thomas Dooley found out in the 1990s, soccer players with American and foreign citizenships can catch a huge break by declaring for the US team.  The path to quality playing time in major tournaments is easier and America has always been judgment-free about where our players come from.  In fact, the US soccer community rejoices in having foreign-born players as a sign of America’s immigrant traditions. 

Had Rossi chosen differently, he would have been a sure starter for the US team.  He would be in South Africa right now preparing to play against England, and if he had played well in that game, the sky would be the limit as he looked to sign a new contract with a new club team.

Rossi is still young, and he still has at least one World Cup left in him.  However, the amount of World Cups in a player’s career is very finite, and to lose one will be a tough blow for Rossi.  It did not need to be, but Rossi chose the more perilous route and has been punished for that choice.

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  1. Joe-ness

    September 24, 2010 at 5:41 am

    He chose to play for a country that had more passion and love for the game. Who can blame him. Rossi’s other option was a country that had three-quarters less passion and relevance to it. As much of a US fan I am (and I would choose my country in an instant), he saw the golden opportunity for glory. Not bandwagon glory (maybe), but the glory and honor of representing your heritage.

    Though, it might of cost him the chance to be in South Africa with a team that just happened to flop (in both ways). In addition, watching the country he declined get farther than the one he chose. That’s a little ironic. Probably never saw that coming.

  2. Mike

    September 14, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Ya it sucks that he didnt play for the US but Lippi is a total idiot! So tell me again….how did the Italians do in the World Cup? Oh ya early exit with a bunch of over the hill has beens! A new Manager and young players like Rossi will again have the Italians playing for the Cup. Don’t think the US has a sliver of a chanse even with Rossi. Italy had the same problem as Brazil this year….idiot Manager who left some of the best players at home. Ego is a bitch…didn’t they fire Dunga as het got off the airplan…would have payed to see that go down!

  3. Danny

    June 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Your all haters. How can you blame a player for wanting to play for the national team who has a better chance of winning the world cup? The truth is Italian coach Lippi is an ass. He single handedly left the best Italian players home. Like Rossi, bolatelli, casino etc. As a result Italy came in last place and are eliminated in the first round. So, this is really a case of a stubborn hard headed Italian coach being a douche. Maybe Rossi would have got to play in this cup with USA true. However, if he ever wishes to win the tournament his hopes must lie with Italy in four years. In which our real talent will be on the field.

  4. Tracy

    June 5, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Jason – He holds duel citizenship but was raised in NJ (and if memory serves me correctly, his father did not take him to Italy until he completed high school in the US first.

    Not that it matters to the lot of you whom have chosen name calling (not you Jason *S*) – but this yet another blow to an already difficult year or him. The loss of his father earlier this year (whom Giuseppe was very close to – as much friends as they were father and son)

    I am certain that he is making decisions based upon the facts as we see them as well as circumstances that none of us may be privy too.

    To call someone a “traitor” over what is a career choice … really. Having known his father as a mentor and teacher, I know that Guiseppe was raised with a healthy attitude towards his country of birth. Holding duel citizenship does not make someone a traitor. And soccer is not about the politics of any particular country (and I love my country and am very proud to be an American citizen)

    But then, name calling is such a juvenile thing to do –

  5. Jason

    June 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    If you haven’t grown up in more than 1 country, you probably have no clue how you would feel or what choice you would make if you were in his shoes. I really wish he had chosen to play for the US and have no problem calling him a traitor in the name of rivalry when he plays against us, but in the end I cannot fault him for wanting to play for the country where he trained for many of his formative years with Parma and in the Italian youth system. I believe he was 12 when he moved to Italy which puts him at around 8 years of playing in their club & national youth systems before joining the full team.

  6. Justin

    June 3, 2010 at 3:25 pm


  7. UpTheBlues

    June 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I don’t get all the hate against Rossi. What’s wrong if Giuseppe chooses a much more talented team? He wants to win a World Cup, and that’s waayyyyy more likely to happen with Italia then the US.

    • Tim

      June 4, 2010 at 1:56 am

      Don’t they call that glory hunting?

    • skippy

      June 16, 2010 at 3:30 am

      Playing for Italia in a World Cup might never happen for him. Boyhood dreams are great. But, I think it’s safe to say that playing for the USA would have been the better decision for both his career and his paycheck.

  8. DCUDiplomat96

    June 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Dang why dont yall get off Rossi’s Nuts he is not even American(soccerwise) so who cares? really!

  9. Dima

    June 3, 2010 at 3:12 am

    I’m more upset at the Italians. He is easily one of the best players on their team and always elevated their play whenever he was subbed in. It’s sad that no matter how well he played he could never be a starter on their team, but to cut him? Ridiculous.

  10. hmmmm

    June 3, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Good point Jose. Rossi was looking to jump on a “glory bandwagon” that he knew growing up (lots of people do this; it is normal), but he was not thinking about what kinds of new things he could help create, something he could get in on the ground floor, as it were. Much harder to see the big picture when you’re chasing the obvious. The road less traveled and all that.

  11. jose

    June 2, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    the guy who brought pele to ny cosmos told pele that yeah he could go to real madrid and win another championship but he could come to the u.s. and built something that will forever be more important then just winning championships. thank god pele listened but rossi didn’t. if rossi played for us he would have been remembered and respected in u.s. soccer folklore but he chose to play for italy. im not a hater but i can’t feel bad for a decision he made when there are players that would do anything to play for the stars & stripes.

  12. A.R.M

    June 2, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Rossi’s beloved Azzuri have dealt him a devastating blow with financial consequences. Clearly, he should have made their team on merit, but the Lippi deemed him not Italian enough (with the support of the Italian public I am sure). Is anyone besides Rossi surprised by this cheap shot? Rossi’s naivete makes my blood boil. With us, he would have completed our side. Instead, he’ll be watching from Teaneck as we lose hard fought, would-have-won-but-for-lack-of-a-finisher games in South Africa.

  13. CA

    June 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I too remember that goal celebration at the Confed Cup. Maybe that’s why his snubbing makes me feel so good:)

  14. Alex

    June 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Rossi’s beloved Azzuri have delivered him a devastating blow with real financial consequences for him. Clearly, he deserved to make the Italian side on merit, but the Italian soccer gods deemed him not Italian enough. Is anyone besides Rossi surprised by this cheap shot? The naivete of Rossi makes my blood boil. With us, he would have completed our squad. Instead, he’ll be watching us lose hard fought, might-have-won but-for-lack-of-a-finisher matches from Teaneck.

  15. sergio lima

    June 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    He made a very stupid move. But, on the other hand, if he is that good and is free, why not bring him to one of the mls teams?

  16. dan

    June 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Serves him right!
    What the heck does it mean to feel italian on a soccer field? wtf!

    he is stuck with Italy now, no going back son

  17. J Huck

    June 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

    he deserved what he got.. another dumb italian.

    • UpTheBlues

      June 3, 2010 at 1:48 pm

      Dude he’s not Italian…he was born in NJ! fail

  18. Red Bull Domination

    June 2, 2010 at 8:30 am

    That’s what happens when your a traitor. Go to hell Guiseppe!

  19. man99utd

    June 2, 2010 at 7:23 am

    All this whinging about Rossi playing for Italy, but I see no one is losing sleep over one of America’s stars coming all the way from Aberdeen. No one seemed too concerned for Scotland’s WC chances when Stuart Holden chose not to play for the country of his birth. Isn’t it ironic that America wants someone that isn’t good enough for Italy. Almost like the current state of MLS.

    • Dan

      June 2, 2010 at 11:01 am

      the difference between Holden and Rossi is that Holden is an American Citizen vs Rossi who to my reculection is not a Itlain citizen. Holden was born in Scottland but was raised in the USA. Holden maybe from Scotland but he is an American now.

      • Eric Altshule

        June 2, 2010 at 1:53 pm

        Holden could have played for either Scotland or the US. Rossi could have played for either Italy or the US. Jose Torres could have played for Mexico or the US. In international soccer, many players are confronted with these options, and it is a little harsh to impute someone’s character based in the choice they make. That being said, the path towards playing in the World Cup is a little easier if you declare for the US. The competition for spots is not as strong and the likelihood of the US going to the World Cup is greater. I like Holden a lot as a player and as a person, but I am sure he chose to play for the US, in part, because the US is a lot more likely to go to the World Cup than Scotland.

        Rossi took a big gamble declaring for Italy, and that gamble has backfired. I don’t doubt his motives – he has strong ties to Italy and wanted to prove himself in one of the most skilled soccer cultures in the World. Frankly, it is a shame for him because I think he is a better striker than some who made it on to the Italian team. But that decision has cost him a chance at something glorious.

  20. ddtigers

    June 2, 2010 at 5:17 am

    He has the next WC and the next 4 years to prove himself so I’m sure he is not totally crushed. I remember how he enjoyed the goal against the US in the CC. That shows no respect and shows he really didn’t want to play at all for the US. Maybe I’m reading too much into this but that emotion showed me how father and son feel about their “2nd home”.

  21. Nick

    June 2, 2010 at 4:00 am

    Technically, if one of the USA’s players became “seriously injured”, we could replace them with Guiseppe up to 24 hours before the first match according to the FIFA rules.

    Not wishing for that to happen. But if it did, he’s a much more talented option than Brian Ching.

    • Dave C

      June 2, 2010 at 11:16 am

      Nick, the US could NOT call up Rossi as an emergency replacement because he has already played for Italy in full competetive matches, hence he’s tied to them for life.

  22. Howie

    June 2, 2010 at 2:27 am

    Interesting, but I’m not sure what this is doing on Maybe or would be a better place for it.

    • The Gaffer

      June 2, 2010 at 7:36 am

      Howie, he’s one of the best American strikers in the world. But he chose to play for Italy instead.

      MLS Talk covers US soccer, hence the article.

      The Gaffer

      • DCUDiplomat96

        June 3, 2010 at 12:33 pm

        Sorry I dont consider him American, hell he wears a italy shirt!!!

  23. jackson

    June 2, 2010 at 12:57 am

    dude your info is wrong. he still has 3 yr contract left w/villareal.

  24. Seybold

    June 1, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    I have no ill will toward Rossi, if his heart was set on Italy so be it.

    However, it is doubly ironic that not only will he be missing the World Cup, but he also missed a chance last year to play in the Confederations Cup final and semifinals, because he was playing for Italy rather than the USA.

  25. Adam Edg

    June 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Justice has been served.

  26. Dan

    June 1, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    It makes me think of a quote from the movie The Miracle Match where Wes Bentley was called a Krout and Wes responded by saying that “yes I am of German Descent, but I am an American and only an American.”

    Good movie. Rossi should watch that movie and start thinking about whether he made a mistake or if would rather be Italian.

  27. CoconutMonkey

    June 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    That’s a shame. Honestly though, I don’t know enough about Rossi or the Italian team to make an argument on whether or not he should have been selected.

    As for the whole traitor business. James makes a good point. I think there would be a lot less ill will if he chose to play for a less douchey team.

  28. The Gaffer

    June 1, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    It’s a shame that Rossi didn’t make the final 23 for the Italy national team. But I often wonder how different the story would have been if the USSF had tried harder to convince Rossi to play for the States a few years ago. To me, the USSF didn’t try hard enough.

    The Gaffer

    • Eric Altshule

      June 1, 2010 at 11:03 pm

      Gaffer – I am not sure I agree on this one. Clearly the USSF screwed up when it came to Neven Suboti?, who played for the US U-17 team but had a falling out and is now going to the World Cup with Serbia. However, with Rossi, I think the US and Bruce Arena tried really hard to get Rossi to play for the US, but it seems he had his eye focused on Italy from the beginning. Unfortunately for Rossi, the love was not returned, at least not for this World Cup.

    • Joey Clams

      June 2, 2010 at 6:54 pm

      Do you expect the USSF to suplicate?

  29. CA

    June 1, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    This makes me happy. He chose his side, and now he has to lie in the bed he’s made.

  30. mike

    June 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    he could’ve been the star of an eclectic US team, instead he chose to play for Italy and now he’s the ugly duckling. maybe he’ll come back to the States……… sit on the couch and watch the Cup

  31. Nick

    June 1, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    I dont’ hate Rossi, but ask me to shed any tears for him either. I’m an immigrant myself, but even if i had the ability I would not play or England ahead of the US.

    I think he made a poor choice and in the end is paying for that decision.

    • P.Colman

      January 12, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      if you chose to play england over the us…theres something wrong with you.England at least has tradition and history and substance to their lineup…. I love the U.S but who do they pay to qualify for world cups?At most “dangerous” Mexico?Then they play a bunch of islands..and i dont want to hear about spanish speaking central american team has ever won a world cup…itd be different if we’re speaking about south america who have real competition(brazil,argentina,paraguay,uruguay,chile…)

      Look at Dempsey,they only guy really putting USA names out there.No offense to Donovan, but he’s not doing nearly as much as Dempsey NOW,but he’s poster boy to Bradley.Soccer isnt about being “faithful” to past connections and so on and so forth.I think we’ve been jipped of having the best US squad possible bc of this favoritism,politics bull.That says A LOT about USSF.So i disagree w/ him having a sure shot at the starting line up here.(Ex.Adu…good,but verrry overrated=politics)I also dont think he got cut from the team bc of Italian favoritism..or else he wouldnt of have even been called up for the squad(and Italy also has an Argentine native playing for them).I think it was a lot of veterans last chance to play a WC, the team was going to be what it was at best w/ or w/o Rossi.The dynamic of the Italian team is definately going to change w/ the retiring of certains veteran players, which gives Italy a fresh restart and also allowing Rossi to effectively contribute his contemporary yet technical style of playing.

      I just see this all as…its kind of like when a young player turns down going to play for a European team in order to play for ..lets say..their argentinean club..and everyone calls them stupid b/c “they missed a great opportunity”.Which in fact really is a strategical move b/c they know theyre young and theyre allowing themself to develope whereever they are now instead of jumping the gun on a eauropean club contract and getting bench.A lot of young soccer players who were perspective million dollar babys jump the gun and end theyre career sitting on a fancy bench…

  32. Josh

    June 1, 2010 at 6:14 pm


  33. bradjmoore48

    June 1, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    “Not sure what to say about this. He’s good enough to get into the Italian team (or so I thought…) but guaranteed starter for the US and probably would’ve been a fan fav.”

    This is of course assuming he still spent his formative soccer years abroad and then came back to play for the US. While the US team might enjoy the fact that they have a forward who spent his youth plying his trade abroad, what does that say about US Youth Soccer Player Development in this country? “To be the best, don’t even try to learn to play here, go abroad, that’s your only shot.”

    The irony is amusing, the haters can gloat for the next four years, as is their right. I have noticed that the Rossi hatred stems from pure jealousy. Don’t fool yourselves, Rossi doesn’t owe anything to US soccer. Because of that, I have no problem with him not being on our side. If he wants to play for Italy and get cut, c’est la vie.

    • james

      June 1, 2010 at 6:49 pm

      In a world where most young stars move to play in a handful of countries, this approach just doesn’t cut it. Would we feel differently if he’d stayed in the Man U system and had still chosen Italy?

      I agree that there are issues with the USSF. But, there’s something to be said about playing for your home country, the country that accepted your father, enabling him to coach high school soccer in the US, etc.

      In the end, Rossi decided to gamble on his dream. He grew up admiring the Azzurri and had the means to play for them, so he did.

      The Rossi hatred does not stem from jealousy. Many of us despise the Azzurri because they play cheap, dirty, defending soccer and habitually ride their luck through big tournaments. We hate them because of 2006 and 2009. We aren’t jealous of them because they get Rossi, we hate Rossi because he’s sided with a team that went after McBride’s cheekbones in 2006. I know some US fans like Italy, but for those of us who do not, we see Rossi as a traitor who’s playing for a team that ranks just below Mexico in terms of how much many of the die hard US fans dislike them.

      • Cavan

        June 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

        Well said. I actully dislike Italy more than Mexico. Mexico is a respected, often bitter rival who routinely loses their cool. They don’t play dirty and cheaply against other teams quite like they do against our team.

        Italy on the other hand, except in the 1994 World Cup, that’s their MO. Italy is the embodiment of everything that garden-variety soccer haters use in their tirades. They’re the most cynical team in any competition. They do the most violent crap and ALSO the most acting.

      • P.Colman

        January 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm

        Rossi nor his family don’t have debts to pay the USSF or the US.It’s not like USA was like,hereee Rossi family..theres food water shelter a soccer camp and job.They came to this country legally so all theyre hard work is legit.I think saying they owe something is undermining all theyre efforts and success.Theyre intelligent individuals,loving and caring and despite Giuseppi’s success so far,theyre all still down to earth people.I think we use this Race card for or against us..depending how it will work for us.What most people dont know is that Giuseppi Rossi goes back to Clifton to sign autographs and help w/ his fathers soccer clinics(R.I.P F.Rossi)..he DOES give back to community,but to where it’s closest to his heart, which I think in turn shoes the kind of person and athlete he is.This is not a guy who you here about sleeping around with women or over drinking the night before a game like a lot of soccer players who became play boys.Im not saying every athlete should be a role model, but Giuseppi Rossi is a known player that you CAN let your kids look up to.And I agree w/ the other guy…if Giuseppi grew up playing soccer HERE in the states, went ODP and other such soccer clinics…then and only then should anyone be like “wtfff” about him playing for Italy.Give the kid a break,he’s not Italian enough over there and he’s not American enough over here.Why cant we just embrace a well-rounded person?He’s cultured!Stop hating people!!

        PS:I know what Im talking about,I knew the family personally and took Italian 4 years in CHS.2 years w/ Ferdinando and my last 2 years of Italian w/ his wife.I wish them the best and honestly one of the most genuine group of ppl Ive ever met!

  34. james

    June 1, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Rossi had the chance to be a real hero in the US. He could’ve helped paved the way and a striker of his class is exactly what the US needs. Instead, he wasn’t picked and will have to perform better if he expects to get picked four years from now.

    • Sam Davis

      June 1, 2010 at 6:07 pm

      He’ll have Balotelli and Borriello to contend with when the next tourney rolls around as well as I’m sure that those two will be in the picture.

    • Cavan

      June 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm

      The author mentioned the provincial nature of the Italian soccer community. Regardless of how well he plays, he’ll always have to contend with that. In that respect, I feel sorry that he’s learning that not every country regards immigrants as (relatively) positively as we do. Even though I don’t like his choice, he is a professional with only so much time to earn money playing soccer. It’s sad to see that his choice to subject himself to another country’s provincialism could cost him at the salary negotiating table.

      • Joey Clams

        June 2, 2010 at 6:50 pm

        He should have known better. Let’s not blame Italian culture for Rossi’s failure to impress enough to make the national team.

  35. EliMcQ

    June 1, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Damn, I feel sorry for him. But Eric Altshule is right, Rossi would be starting for the US (paired with Altidore, no doubt). I’m sure Giuseppe is gutted.

  36. Sam Davis

    June 1, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Not sure what to say about this. He’s good enough to get into the Italian team (or so I thought…) but guaranteed starter for the US and probably would’ve been a fan fav.

    The irony here is mildly amusing.

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