Thursday, December 29, 2011
Zimmerman Rocks the Boat...
The first and most important is simple: What does it mean to be American in the soccer world? The second is of lesser importance but still worthy of attention: are quality players being overlooked in favor of German-American players simply because they have their roots in Germany?
Before looking too deeply into these questions, a bit of context is important. Take a moment to read Preston Zimmerman's tweets and interpret for yourself (Mind the tweet timeline, bottom is where it starts).
Initial reactions and interpretations tend to be harsh however one point cannot be argued at all, that is that Zimmerman's comments are as honest as they come. It's very clear that while Zimmerman, who is USMNT eligible and put in time on the U-20 side in 2007 might be jaded, he's also very passionate about the team.
To his credit, he holds nothing back however he may have crossed a line in his delivery. Calling players "Fake American's" is a no win tactic in the end. He likely made few friends in the ranks of the national team and if he ever were to be called in, it's likely that the locker room could be off-put by his presence. Still, his points do warrant attention. And his honest approach is to be applauded.
Since coming into the squad Jurgen Klinsmann has mined Germany for USMNT elligible players, some of whom you may never have heard of (Fabian Johnson for one) and some of whom are recent discoveries (Tim Chandler). In that process it seems as though he's overlooked players like Herculez Gomez, Omar Gonzalez and Geoff Cameron in favor of the German borns. Seemingly though, he's rectified that with the January camp. It's the opinion of this writer that Klinsmann is doing precisely what he should be: looking everywhere for talent possible. That talent should be motivated and in it for pride above all else. Germany is what Jurgen Klinsmann knows best so it's only natural that his contacts and resources begin there. What else can supporters and detractors expect after his hiring?
America is a country that was founded on immigrants who look for a second chance. As long as a player is willing to suit up and sacrifice everything to wear the colors, it should be absolutely acceptable to everyone that they play, regardless of language or birthplace.
Zimmerman's point seems to be that players will settle for the USMNT only if they're unable to land on their desired national teams (his direct references being Germany). Fans and media must certainly be aware of the growing number of players being found eligible to play. With that awareness, caution is certainly allowed and encouraged but until given evidence to the contrary, no player should be considered a "Fake American" until evidence is presented.
While Preston Zimmerman's words might be considered out of line or a rant, they do bring to the forefront of conversation concerns that many have had...that is a very good thing. At the very least it gives fans a new perspective from which to look. At most it reaches Jurgen Klinsmann's ears and gives him reason to self evaluate. If he's doing that, it's all we can ask until World Cup Qualifying hits and results matter.
If you're not familiar with who Preston Zimmerman is, The Shin Guardian did a great write up on him in 2010 here.
Brian Straus of Sporting News sat down with Klinsmann a several weeks ago to look in to the very topic for which Zimmerman is so disgruntled. See what Jurgen has to say on his player selections and his vision for US Soccer here.