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Subotic switches allegiances
by Paul Kennedy, December 29th, 2008 7AM



[SERBIA] Neven Subotic, one of the most sought-after young defenders in the world, has informed U.S. Soccer that he will be switching allegiances and play for Serbia at the senior national team level. Subotic, who represented the USA at the 2005 Under-17 World Cup, joins the list of U.S. youth system products who have decided to represent a national team other than the United States at the senior level.

Subotic, a Bosnian Serb, moved to Germany as a child and then later migrated with his family to the United States. He was discovered by a U.S. U-17 coach playing in a park in Bradenton, Fla., and played for the USA at the 2005 Under-17 World Cup in Peru.

He later returned to Germany to play for Mainz and was signed by Bundesliga power Borussia Dortmund this season. He has been rumored to be heading to Italy's Napoli during the January transfer window.

The Serbian soccer federation said Subotic made the decision "to return to his roots." He could have played for the USA, Bosnia or Serbia. The German soccer federation was eager to draft Subotic, but he was ineligible according to FIFA regulations. A player who has represented one country at the youth level may switch allegiances until his 21st birthday as long as he was eligible to play for his new team at the time he played for his old team.

Serbia coach Radomir Antic hopes to pair Subotic with Manchester United star Nemanja Vidic in the center of Serbia's defense.

New Jersey product Giuseppe Rossi plays for Italy, and New Mexico youth star Edgar Castillo represents Mexico after a stint in the ODP system.

Ramon Nunez was a youth star for the Dallas Texans and in the ODP system but never had U.S. citizenship. He plays for native Honduras. His situation is similar to that of Colorado prep star Roger Espinoza, who was called into the Catrachos' national team camp, beginning Thursday in Florida.

Castillo and Nunez were both involved in recent transfers. Castillo joined Mexico City power Club America from Santos. Nunez, who began his career in MLS, signed with Mexico's Puebla from Olimpia.

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