Thursday, December 29, 2011

Zimmerman Rocks the Boat...

If you were getting bored with American soccer news and the MLS off-season, then you certainly have something to catch your attention now. Today via twitter American soccer play Preston Zimmerman set a debate in motion that will likely be rolling around for a while. The young attacker wrote a diatribe that brings several issues to the forefront of conversation and there were two points that should be taken note of.

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).

 Preston Zimmerman 
Don't want anybody to take my tweets negatively or as criticism to make somebody look bad, I just have passion and interest in the US team
 Preston Zimmerman 
I hope the US team wins and dominates just as much as anybody else because it's my country and I want my country to be #1 and dominate
 Preston Zimmerman 
I know plenty of guys who are in the MLS and know what it's like to play for their country who deserve a look for the US team
 Preston Zimmerman 
 Kilinsmann just wants to let everyone know he's in charge, a US team needs to comprise of real Americans
 Preston Zimmerman 
People can bash me for whatever reason, but I hate seeing my country's national team being misused and disrespected
 Preston Zimmerman 
squeaking out 1-0 wins against CONCACAF villages isn't success.....
 Preston Zimmerman 
If Klinsmann was winning and very successful with his approach then my words would carry no weight, but I don't see any success
 Preston Zimmerman 
Am I the only one here who thinks this or are there others? People have to speak up when they don't like what's going on
 Preston Zimmerman 
But the college kids don't speak German and they don't have ties outside the US so they don't qualify for the US under Klinsmann
 Preston Zimmerman 
The kids in college are just as good, if not better, than some of the kids from the reserve teams getting invited to camp
 Preston Zimmerman 
But when the olympic team holds mini-camps in Germany with all 'european players' then something is wrong
 Preston Zimmerman 
I would just like to see true, real Americans who would live and die for this country representing our country
 Preston Zimmerman 
Don't mistake any of my tweets for jealousy, I never expect to be called in or involved with anything and it doesn't hurt my feelings
 Preston Zimmerman 
I try my hardest not to tweet US soccer stuff but there are some stuff out there that drive me crazy
 Preston Zimmerman 
Thats embarrassing when a good friend of mine says he met one of the guys @ the airport & he couldnt reply back in English as US Natl player
 Preston Zimmerman 
I see the team is calling in guys who are really germans who know they've got no chance of playing for germany so they'll settle with the US
 Preston Zimmerman 
Requirements to get on US National team under Klinsmann: Be a fake American, be born outside the US, have one US distant relative
 Preston Zimmerman 
I thought it would be cool getting Klinsmann as US National team coach, but I think it's actually worse than when Bradley was coach....

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. 


  1. This "mining in Germany" didnt start with Klinsmann, it started with Bob Bradley. He gave Chandler his first cap, and had Johnson and Danny Williams on the cusp of a national team call-up. Preston Zimmerman's rant is an attack on Jurgen Klinsmann from the get go, but he tries to steer away from that as the tweets go on. I think I'm pretty safe to assume those comments arent made if Bradley were still the head coach.

    Gonzalez, who by the way, didnt necessarily put aside the idea he'd consider Mexico if they called, Cameron, and Gomez arent being overlooked by German born players. Gonzo and Cameron are behind Boca, Goodson, Onyewu and Gomez is behind Altidore, Agudelo, Buddle, and Bunbury.

    My point is, and you vaguely state the same, that Klinsmann looks everywhere for talent, not just in Germany. You're scenarios are untrue. You can dig around Zimmermans tweets and say that he is making the same point, but this all reeks of a Klinsmann, German bias, and I cant believe nobody has blasted Zimmerman yet for his "fake American" comments.

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  2. Started WAAAAAY before Bradley. Can you say Thomas Dooley? And don't forget David Regis (OK, he was French).

  3. Don't forget Michael Mason and David Wagner. At least the new guys aren't from the second and third divisions in Germany.

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