Why Americans Should Root for Giuseppe Rossi

by Robert on May 26, 2010 · 6 comments

The name "Giuseppe Rossi" makes American soccer fans shake their head in disgust and Italian fans smile in anticipation.  The 23 year old striker has made the Italian national team provisional roster and, even if he is only a reserve in this World Cup, he will likely star on future Azzurri clubs that will need an infusion of youth.  But in an alternate world, he could have led an upstart American club deep into the World Cup this year.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Rossi was born in New Jersey to Italian immigrant parents.  He grew up in a bilingual household and as a teenager moved with his father to train in Italy. He trained with Parma in their youth academy, being nicknamed "America".  He participated in the various Italian youth national teams, and in 2005, as ESPN relates in their story about Rossi, U.S. national coach Bruce Arena offered him a spot on the team for a friendly in Scotland.  Rossi turned him down in 2005 and his successor Bob Bradley down again in 2007, instead concentrating on making the Italian national squad.  In 2009, he fulfilled his lifelong dream and made the Azzurri roster.

His first international goal was in a victory over Northern Ireland in June 2009.  His next two cemented the hatred of many American fans:

Since the earliest the U.S. and Italy can meet in the World Cup is in the semi-finals, it is unlikely that Rossi will have the opportunity to recreate his magic against the country of his birth.  Still, there is a visceral hatred of the young player in the U.S.  A search of "Giuseppe Rossi traitor" (the fourth choice that comes up when you type his name in Google) yields over 3,000 results including a "Giuseppe Rossi is a Traitor" Facebook page.  If he continues to improve and become the player many think he will become, U.S. fans will be haunted with "what ifs" for many years. 

But I would argue that U.S. fans should root for Rossi, not despise him.  His family truly represents the American dream - immigrants who make a life for themselves in the U.S. and whose success allows their child to chase his own dream.  Rossi first learned soccer in the American soccer system - his father coached the sport at Clifton High School, a prep powerhouse. But he became a complete player in Italy's youth system, and I think that because Italy formed him as a player, it makes sense for him to want to play for Italy. 

Even though he is Italian on the pitch, off the pitch he professes an admiration for the country of his birth.  As he told ESPN, "the TV I watch, the websites I visit, the music I like - it's all from America."  He embraces the American lifestyle and is unashamed of his American background.

Americans fans should direct their anger over Rossi elsewhere - at the U.S. Soccer Federation.  Rossi notes that he grew up watching Italian soccer and seeing the Italian national team play Ireland in the World Cup at Giants Stadium was a defining moment for him.  He fell in love with the Azzurri that day, a dream that has led him to making the squad in 2009.  Even the prospect of playing extensively for the U.S. team could not derail him from his dream of wearing the Italian blue.  The U.S. Soccer Federation must make it a goal (no pun intended) that such talent begin to fall in love with the red, white, and blue.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bradjmoore48 May 27, 2010 at 11:51 am


I don’t think directing the blame at the USSF is fair in this circumstance. Rossi was given opportunities to play for US, he declined, what more could they do? Ban Italian soccer matches from being shown on US TV? Not likely. Plus, keep in mind, when he was a kid, the US had only just qualified for their first WC in 40 years, and at that US Soccer exposure was at a low compared to now. The only way most Americans got into soccer was likely through international leagues. The USSF is certainly trying to correct this now, since they know about 400 American kids (or at least dual citizens) are plying their trade in leagues abroad. But you win some, you lose some, not all 400 of those kids will end up in US training camps.

For the record, I don’t think of Rossi as a traitor, and I don’t care about “what ifs.” Rossi is an Azzurri, pure and simple, let’s leave it at that.


2 Robert May 27, 2010 at 3:13 pm

brad -

Good points, and I agree with you. My point was to tell those who hate Rossi that he shouldn’t be scorned because of his choice to play for Italy. In fact, it makes a lot of sense based on his background.

I meant the term “blame” loosely meaning that the US national team could not compete with the Italian national team for an Italian-American in 1994. I think (hope?) this will change and when the next Rossi watches the 2010/2014/2018 World Cup he will fall in love with the American squad. But I don’t advocate setting up a “USSF are Traitors” Facebook page.

And the hatred is asinine, but it’s out there.


3 Keith May 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm

If he does not want to represent the country that gave his family a better way of life, send him and his parents back to Italy. People come to get a better life for themselves and wave their flags and talk of how proud they are of their home country. I got no problem with immigrants, but once you move here, you should learn our language and assimilate to our culture. If not, send them back to a their home land that they are so proud of they left to find a better life.


4 bradjmoore48 June 1, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Keith - you seem to be forgetting that that is EXACTLY what Rossi and his father did when he was 12. He spent his formative soccer years in Parma’s youth system, then was at Man U, where he was loaned out to Newcastle and Parma, and now is at Villareal. He also was on Italy’s youth national teams. Do you see any US interaction in there? Rossi doesn’t owe anything to US soccer, period.

The Rossi hatred, from what I’ve seen, has been pure jealousy.

Of course, none of this matters much now that he was cut from the Italian national side for the WC. The haters are allowed to gloat for at least 4 years


5 Nick June 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Nobody is jealous. I am happy he didn’t make the Italian squad because it’s just funny. He doesn’t deserve to make the Italian squad because he isn’t good enough. With his injuries, and his form, I wouldn’t want him starting in a week for the U.S. squad. That’s first off.

Second off, He moved to Italy at 12, what about the first 11 years? Don’t call yourself an American, and don’t say “New Jersey will always be home” if you’re going to, from the very beginning, diss the U.S. in every public chance you got. People aren’t angry because he is good, Americans have pride in our country and we believe there is a certain pride in representing our country. Every chance he got, he dissed the U.S. the only way he could which was by choosing Italy over the U.S. in soccer. It didn’t have to be soccer, it could have been baseball, basketball, etc. The fact that multiple times he chose Italy over the U.S. when his roots are in America and he is the person he is today because of his time in the U.S. Maybe not his development in soccer, but his development as a person. You’re development as a person begins when you’re one day old! He flat out wouldn’t be the same person if he were to have been born in Italy and gone through Italian school systems. Whether his development would have been better or worse doesn’t matter, the fact of the matter is that he would have been a completely different person. People just see him as somebody who just wants to take advantage of the American systems. Dunno if I agree with that, but that’s why people don’t like him. There’s more than soccer fans that are angry at Rossi, so obviously it has not to do with his soccer ability but rather that he’s seen as a trader to the U.S. Especially in the time where Baby Boomers are a large part of shaping our society, “Spies” and “Traders” is a VERY VERY negative term. People think if America good enough to raise you, it’s good enough to play for and represent. My grandparents and parents are Japanese, does that mean I feel this strong desire to go work in Japan and represent Japan in what I do? HELL NO!! I am an American, I went to American schools, grew up with American friends. If i had the chance to represent my country, it would be as an American for an American company.

Nobody is jealous though. I could care less because I’m not even sure he would make the team better. He’s hurt and out of shape. Maybe he gets around the U.S. team, thinks he’s entitled, and plays selfishly? Who knows? I’ve never seen him play with the American squad so there’s nothing to be jealous about. I just think it’s funny he’s going to be sitting his ass on the couch just like every other football fan in the world. He’s no different than you or I this World Cup when he could be playing for a U.S. squad that has a legitimate shot at making it to the quarterfinals because of their draw. If you get past the group stage, anything can happen. He could have been apart of a potential exciting American run.


6 amanda June 14, 2010 at 3:51 pm

it’s total bull that anyone is mad at giuseppe.
every athlete knows whether they deny it or not if they had the choice to play for a bigger and better team they would regardless of the sport.
european soccer is better than american and it will be for a very long time.


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