With the United States being home to immigrants from around the world, it is unsurprising that many players are eligible to play for the United States Men’s National Team as well as other nations. At times, there are players who have to make a choice between playing for the U.S. or another country of their heritage. Here’s a look at five of the more prominent USMNT eligible players who chose to feature for another nation.
One thing to note about this list is that I did not consider players who have yet to make a senior international appearance, like Borussia Dortmund’s Jeremy Toljan, and therefore remain eligible for the USMNT. Additionally, several players who are commonly mentioned when discussing those that U.S. Soccer missed out on were not actually eligible for the USMNT. As this SoccerByIves article explains, Andy Najar, Vedad Ibisevic, and Yura Movsisyan were not U.S. citizens at the time they were being mentioned as potential national members.
Neven Subotic was born in 1988, in Yugoslavia. A year later his family moved to America and he would go to make 10 appearances for the U-17 national team and 2 for the U-20s.
Subotic signed for Borussia Dortmund in 2008 and spent a decade with the team. While he was considered one of the top Bundesliga defenders in his prime, since 2013 he has struggled with a variety of injuries. By the start of the 2015/2016 season, it was clear that Subotic had lost a step.
Subotic was eligible to play for the U.S., Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Serbia. He chose to represent Serbia in 2008 and has earned 36 caps, including 2 during the 2010 World Cup, but has not played for the Eagles since 2013. Subotic is currently a starter for Ligue 1 side Saint Etienne.
The story of Giuseppe Rossi is likely a familiar one to American fans. Rossi was born in New Jersey, to Italian immigrants, and lived there until age 12. He signed with Manchester United in 2004, but bounced around Europe on loan before joining Villarreal in 2007.
Rossi would have his greatest success with the Yellow Submarine (2007-2013), as he scored 54 goals in 136 appearances.
While undoubtedly talented, his career has been plagued by cruciate ligament injuries which resulted in him missing dozens of matches from 2011-2014. U.S. coach Bruce Arena invited Rossi to a 2006 pre-World Cup training camp, but Rossi declined the offer and would later debut for Italy in 2008.
He has managed to score a respectable 7 goals in 30 games for Italy, but due to a combination of injuries and bad form, he has never appeared at the World Cup or European Championship. Rossi is currently a free agent after appearing in 9 matches for Serie A side Genoa last season.
Thomas Delaney may be one of the lesser known names on this list, but he is a solid central midfielder whose been playing regularly for Borussia Dortmund since signing for the team this past summer.
While Delaney is typically deployed as a two-way central midfielder, he is better defensively than he is offensively. From 2008-2017, he helped FC Copenhagen dominate the Danish Superliga. In January 2017, he joined Werder Bremen where he was a regular member of the starting XI.
The 27-year-old was eligible for the USMNT through his paternal grandfather, but came up through the Danish youth system, earning a call up to their senior team in 2013. He has earned 32 caps for Denmark and scored 4 goals. He started in all 4 of the team’s 2018 World Cup matches.
Brede Hangeland, a retired centerback, is best known for his time in the Premier League with Fulham (2008-2014). The 6’6’’ defender was dominant in the air and instrumental in helping Fulham reach the 2010 Europa League final.
Hangeland was eligible for the USMNT after being born in Houston, Texas, but he spent little time in America before his family moved back to their home country of Norway. He made 91 appearances for Norway (2002-2014), serving as captain in 48 of those matches. Despite Hangeland being one of Norway’s greatest players, the Scandinavian nation did not qualify for a single major tournament during his tenure with the team.
At just 19 years old, Trent Alexander-Arnold is the starting right back for Liverpool. He’s also established himself as a regular in the England squad. This season Alexander-Arnold has helped Liverpool to a Premier League best 6-0 record, with just 2 goals conceded in league play.
According to a New York Times article, he was eligible to play for the USMNT through his maternal grandmother. Alexander-Arnold has impressive pace, crosses the ball well, and is a solid 1-v-1 defender.
If all goes well, he could become the best right back in the world and be a fixture in the Three Lions defense for the next decade.