10:30 AM

New Players from Abroad

The USMNT blog on Thursday posted excerpts from coach Bob Bradley's conference call with reporters. During the call he talked about two names that are getting considerable attention among the USMNT faithful: Jose Francisco Torres and Jermaine Jones. Both are players that could add new depth to the US midfield, given their natural talent and experience abroad.

Torres grew up in Texas and was recruited by Mexican club Pachuca. Last October he announced he wanted to represent the red, white and blue at the international level, and has since seen some time during World Cup qualifiers. He didn't play during the Confederations Cup, much to the ire of fans critical of Bradley's roster choices during the tournament.

Jermaine Jones is the son of an American serviceman and a German mother. Most recently he played a key role in midfield for German Bundesliga squad Schalke, which made it into the Champions League elimination round during the 07-08 season. During yesterday's conference call, U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said Jones could be eligible to play as early as August 2. Jermaine declared his desire to play for the U.S. after FIFA changed its eligibility rules for international players. If a player has dual citizenship, he/she can switch nations as long as the player didn't appear in official games. So, playing in a friendly is OK for switching.

Speaking of these new rules, another player in Mexico declared his desire to play for Team USA. Edgar Castillo, a left back at Tigres, was born in Las Cruces, NM and up until recently wanted to represent Mexico. Then he got wind of the FIFA changes and pledged his allegiance to the USMNT. More on Castillo in this NY Times article.

Part of me feels critical. Just because of some rule change, players who left for other opportunities abroad are now begging for playing time with the USMNT. But most of me applauds these developments. Our second half dismantling by Brazil last week reveled a lack of depth in our roster, so more talent and greater competition for playing time will make our team stronger.

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