Both the U.S. and Mexico were in similar situations regarding a talented native son who also had connections to other countries.
Guiseppe Rossi is to the U.S. what Nery Castillo was to Mexico earlier this year. Rossi was born in the States and left the country as a teenager to pursue soccer abroad. Castillo was born in Mexico and was in Europe by his late teens. Both players established themselves on strong clubs and left their home country's national teams salivating at their respective prospects.
But where the tales differ is here: Castillo chose to play for Mexico while Rossi has yet to make the same choice.
Now, I must admit I was wrong about Castillo. Sure, I knew he had talent but I thought he wasn't worth the effort and wasn't worth the headache. If he wanted to play for Mexico, fine, but if he felt the urge to play for another country, why bother trying to persuade him otherwise? I mean, either you want to play for your home country or not, right?
Well, it's not that straightforward. Castillo probably felt a tug between Mexico and Uruguay, land of his roots, and Greece, where he played professionally. In the end, he chose Mexico and El Tri will reap the rewards for years to come.
Rossi is a talent, no doubt. He's got a good soccer lineage and is making his mark in La Liga. It's not unreasonable to think that he could be to the U.S. on the field what Castillo has been to Mexico. Castillo has brought a new style of play to El Tri and hasn't followed the mold of many of Mexico's former players. Having virtually no connection to U.S. Soccer, Rossi would in essence be a foreigner on the U.S. team, foreign in the sense that all of his soccer skills have been developed overseas.
But is he worth the struggle? Should Bob Bradley continue to pursue him when he's made it clear that he wants to play for Italy, however unrealistic that may or may not be?
And should Bradley, at least partially, be remembered for his ability or inability to cap Rossi?