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Andy Najar Chooses Honduras Over The U.S.


Photo by thepeculiarcat

The United States lost a promising national team player today when Andy Najar officially announced he would represent Honduras in the 2011 Gold Cup and thus be eligible to play for their national team.  Najar, the 2010 Rookie of the Year in MLS, comes from the Central American country but has lived the past few years in Alexandria as he came up through the DC United youth system and attended Edison High School.

Despite the hope that Najar would eventually join Bob Bradley’s team, this decision made sense on multiple levels.  Despite living in Virginia the past four years, Najar would have had to maintain residency in the states for another few years in order to qualify as a citizen for purposes of playing for the U.S.  The residency clock would have stopped if Najar went to play overseas which, if he builds off a stellar rookie campaign, is a distinct possibility.  By choosing Honduras, he is eligible to not only play in the 2011 Gold Cup but can join the Honduras’ U-20 team and possibly play in the 2012 Olympics.

From a U.S. national team perspective, this is not a major loss in the short term.  Najar plays on the wings in the midfield and would be behind Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey on the depth chart.  Maybe eventually he could move inside, but it would deprive his team of a speedy threat on the wing and he fits more of an attacking role needing space than a distributor.  Long-term however it deprives the U.S. of a tantalizing option in the midfield.  Najar is the type of player the U.S. currently lacks: quick, works well by creating space, and a threat to score whenever he touches the ball.  Imagine the Russian World Cup in 2018 where a U.S. team captained by Michael Bradley has Mikkel Diskerud in the middle, creating scoring chances for Najar on the wing and Juan Agudelo up front.  That is a pretty entertaining scenario, one that had to have U.S. fans salivating.

In the end, losing Andy Najar isn’t as devastating to the U.S. as losing Giuseppe Rossi, if for no other reason than Najar does not play a position of absolute need.  But it does rob the U.S. of an intriguing option for the future and a playmaker who may one day be the kind of difference maker the Americans have sorely lacked.

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  1. carlos

    May 27, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Andy Najar would look good playing in the honduras soccer team!

  2. Bolacuadrada

    April 6, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I believe Andy Najar made a big mistake. I was born in Honduras and know what young players face when they want to succeed in a country where corruption rules. He will just be used and abused like a bunch of players before him. Some players were even left out of the last world cup for their polical views even though they were key pieces to the team. I expected him to leave his options open and play for the US if called. Besides, in the US he has a realistic chance to attend the world cup every four years, no to say other important competitions. Honduras will not likely attend another WC within the next 30 years and the most he will play is friendlies with the neighboring countries and Copa de Oro. He escaped Honduras as an economy refugee, why does he want to go back to subject himself to what goes on there? Who knows?

  3. Jason

    April 6, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I can understand Najar’s decision as well. It would be tough to wait for so long and Honduras is where he comes from. Rossi is a different situation completly and I still think he sucks for betraying America.

    • bradjmoore48

      April 6, 2011 at 9:44 pm

      Here’s where I think this thinking is skewed: Rossi would not have been nearly as good as he is now had he not gone to Italy when he was 13. If he had been brought up in the US Development academy system, or the college game, etc. (again, when he was 13, no MLS academies were around), I think we’d have another, at best, Jozy on our hands, capable but not fantastic. MLS has come a long way since then, but in the process they missed out on him. Yea, its a bit strange he spent his first 13 years in NJ and ends up playing for a team where he only ended up living for 3 or 4 years, but he owes US Soccer nothing in terms of his development. If he did, he wouldn’t be at Villareal and be arguably the best player in Spain not on Barca or Real Madrid. It’s a “you can’t have your cake and it too” situation, to say it was perfectly ok for him to develop into the player he is abroad, but when he turns around and says he doesn’t want to play for you, he’s a traitor.

      • bradjmoore48

        April 6, 2011 at 9:49 pm

        And yes, I realize using my logic Andy Najar should’ve chosen the US. Ultimately we are a nation of differing nationalities and so I don’t hold it against players who want to play for their’s or their parent’s country of birth. Plus the Rossi thing is water over the bridge at this point.

        Also, are USMNT fans also pissed at Rossi because we lack quality forwards? If Rossi played in midfield, would we really be that upset about him in Italy?

  4. Dave C

    April 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Just a minor stylistic quibble: “Andy Najar officially announced he would represent Honduras in the 2011 Gold Cup and thus be eligible to play for their national team.”

    He hasn’t announced that he would be eligibile to play for the Honduras national team – he was already eligble to play for them (and no announcement could change this). He has announced that he intends to play for them, and will thus become ineligible for the US team.

    Sorry for being a pedant!

    • bradjmoore48

      April 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      Not to mention Najar said absolutely nothing about representing Honduras in the Gold Cup. All he said was essentially, if they call me, I’ll be ready. He may not go to the Gold Cup, he may go to the U-20 World Cup if Honduras qualifies tonight. That’s up to the Honduran federation, Andy and DC Utd (he’ll only go to 1 of those 2 events, can’t be missing 2 months of MLS season)

      From his statement:

      Well, the time has come, and I thank all the fans that have been following me, and I reiterate that my desire is to play with the Honduras national team. If I get called up, with great pleasure I will go and represent my birth country and contribute my two cents.”

  5. Charles

    April 6, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I am fine to see him go to Honduras, not that he wasn’t welcome, but US has plenty of talent in the midfield and having a strong CONCACAF is definitely in the US interest.

    For the same reasons people hated seeing the HEX go, they should be ok with him and others to follow playing in Central America out of MLS.

    Competition in big games will help the US when they play in the biggest games of the World Cup.

  6. A. Ruiz

    April 6, 2011 at 2:32 am

    As a US fan, I’m glad Najar chose the country of his birth. He gained those quick skills and touch on the dusty fields of Honduras. Also, it would be hypocritical of me…seeing as how I disliked Rossi for turning his back on his country of birth.
    Also, to an 18 year old……..4 years is a long time. If he wants to play in Europe, international caps are a must. Look at Jozy, Bradley, Holden and etc, their stock only went up once he got caps.
    Even a lot of euro-snob (at the club level) Nats fans, discount MLS players until they produce for the national team.

    • alaboston

      April 6, 2011 at 5:55 am

      Good point with Rossi playing for Italy. Still, for Najar, at his position, just like with Steve Zakuani, playing for their country of birth just makes more sense. Both will be in top 11s for their national clubs consistently. It just makes no senes. Meanwhile Rossi, who should clearly make the next Italian World Cup roster, has struggled to find minutes for his national team.

    • alaboston

      April 6, 2011 at 8:35 am

      I agree whole heartedly, especially about the Rossi part. The US is stacked at midfield so he has a much more likely shot of always being in the Honduran 18, if not top 11 for most matches. Would I have been happy to see him with the US? Of course. Still, I get why he, and Steve Zakuani, ended up choosing to play for another country immediately. Meanwhile with Rossi, I’m not nearly as clear on why he chose what he chose.

      • Pakapala

        April 6, 2011 at 9:39 am

        What is not clear about Giusepe Rossi’s choice? Why people get on Rossi’s back for his choice? He did what Freddy Adu and I am sure some other american players have done in the past, except it is to the detriment of the US team, not the other way around.

        • alaboston

          April 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

          I understand that if a player could play for a World Cup winning team he should take it. However, with Rossi –and there is no doubt that he will be on Italy’s 2014 team– he has not gotten to play yet.

          If it were me, and I don’t have 1/1000000000000 of the skills either Rossi or Najar have, and I had the opportunity to (in Najar’s case) start for Honduras or maybe not even make the senior team for the US I’m going to Honduras. However if (as in Rossi’s case) I could start for the US or possibly not make the Italian squad, I’m staying in America.

          Now all of this will change as he starts getting more and more caps for Italy. Then it will just be me whining about it. I’m just for a player going wherever he can get minutes, and up until now Rossi has not received a lot of time (World Cup wise) for Italy, which from my understanding is why he went there in the first place.

          • Dave C

            April 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm

            Rossi hasn’t got to play yet???

            He might not have been in the 2010 WC squad, but he certainly has played for Italy on several occasions. As for whether he had a choice of making the US squad vs possibly not making the Italy squad, it’s not as simple as that. Firstly, his ommission from the Italy squad was somewhat of a shock, so he probably thought he was pretty much locked on for the WC. Secondly, he is probably thinking longer-term than simply attending the 2010 WC. He will have the opportunity to play in 2014 and maybe 2018, and will have the Euros of 2012 and 2016 to look forward to. And in each case, Italy’s ambitions (despite their poor performance in 2010) will likely be higher than simply taking part.

          • Pakapala

            April 6, 2011 at 5:47 pm

            I don’t know where you got this notion that Rossi has not been playing for Italy, he’s been playing for Italy since 2003 with the youth team. He has constantly gotten called for the u-20 team and even was on the olympic team in 2008. On the leading up to the 2010 world cup, he has been called to the squad. So it’s not like Rossi has little chance to play for Italy. Only (anti foreign-born players) politics could keep Rossi out of the italian squad.

      • Charles

        April 6, 2011 at 9:46 am

        Not clear ?!?!

        He won the World Cup !

        • alaboston

          April 6, 2011 at 11:25 am

          Rossi has not won a World Cup. He has not even played in a World Cup game.

          • Charles

            April 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm

            Oh, nevermind.

            That is part of the question these guys have to make. Do I play on Italy versus the US ?

            Do I play on Honduras vs the US ?

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