Will German player pipeline produce for USA?

[USA CONFIDENTIAL] Four players born and raised in Germany played for the USA in its loss to France on Friday and five are on the current roster. Six more German-bred players are in the U.S. U-23 national team camp. The trend recalls Tom Dooley’s great contributions of nearly two decades ago, but also raises some questions.

Dooley, like the current German products in the national-team fold, was born to a German mother and an American father, who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Dooley first stepped on U.S. soil at age 30 and quickly became a key part of the national team as a strong, smart defender who also attacked and scored goals. He was the only player who started all U.S. games at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.

Perhaps because German soccer declined in the following years, no more Dooleys found their way to the U.S. program. But starting in the 2000s, German youth development rebounded, its national teams again produced successful and exciting teams – and U.S. Soccer began scouring German soccer for American-sounding surnames.

Of the four German-bred players U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann put on the field against France, two – Jermaine Jones and Timothy Chandler -- made their debuts under Klinsmann’s predecessor, Bob Bradley, who also capped German-bred keeper David Yelldell.

Jones is the oldest and most accomplished of the German-Americans. The 29-year-old earns an annual salary of more than $5 million from Schalke 04, according to German media. He played three times for Germany, in 2008, but remained eligible for the USA because the games weren’t part of official competition.

In the 66th minute of the 1-0 loss to France, Jones replaced Kyle Beckerman at defensive midfielder to earn his 13th U.S. cap.

Chandler, a 21-year-old, made his seventh U.S. appearance against France, starting at left back.

“He still has to learn a lot of things,” Klinsmann said. “He knows that. And there's a lot of upside in his game that can develop. But for right now, he has that starting position. It's his. And he's moving along in that process."

Danny Williams, 22, made his third U.S. start against France, and Fabian Johnson, 23, debuted on Friday in the 71st minute, replacing Williams.

Johnson, in theory, should be the most promising of the young German-Americans. He lined up alongside Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil in a midfield that led Germany to the U-21 European Championship title in 2009 on a team that sparked talk in Germany of a golden generation.

The fifth German product in Klinsmann’s current squad that on Tuesday faces Slovenia is Alfredo Morales, a 21-year-old Berlin-born defender who made his Bundesliga 1 debut for Hertha Berlin in August.

There’s a big difference between the current crop of German players vying for national team spots and Dooley, who was head and shoulders above the talent for his position that the U.S.-bred pool had to offer at the time.

Dooley starred for Bundesliga and German Cup winners Kaiserslautern when he joined the U.S. team. None of the current German-Americans come close to what he had accomplished.

Even Jones, despite his huge salary, has been in and out Schalke’s starting lineup because of injuries and a clash with previous Schalke coach Felix Magath led to a loan to Blackburn Rovers. He recently regained a starting role under Coach Huub Stevens.

And Jones is a rugged defensive midfielder who’s been getting yellow cards in half the games he plays for his club. He doesn’t display qualities unique to what the USA has been producing on its own.

In fact, none of the German-Americans being auditioned right now for Klinsmann’s team have displayed extraordinary talent.

Of course, all the other German-Americans who broke into Bundesliga lineups at a young age should be given a close look. Any American citizen, regardless of where he grew up, should have an equal opportunity to serve the U.S. national team. That’s not the issue.

It also makes perfect sense for U.S. Soccer to continue its scouring for foreign-based American talent. During his tenure as U.S. U-20 coach that ended in 2011, Thomas Rongen identified more than 400 teenage American players in foreign countries. They might find some who turn out as great for the USA as Dooley and Dutch-American Earnie Stewart and end up helping the USA reach a higher level.

But so far, the German pipeline isn't delivering players significantly more promising than what can be found within U.S. shores.

28 comments about "Will German player pipeline produce for USA?".
  1. David Mont, November 14, 2011 at 7:22 a.m.

    This is the new USSF player development strategy -- send as many US servicemen to Germany, hope they make children there, and, as importantly, don't bring those children back to the US.

  2. Luis Arreola, November 14, 2011 at 10:04 a.m.

    Maybe we should look into a Mexican pipeline of players. Its closer.

  3. Fernando Paz, November 14, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.

    Hey they can't forget the italian pipeline we have soldiers,sailors and airmen over there he'll I might have some offspring running around on their soccer fields right now as I write.

  4. cony konstin, November 14, 2011 at 11:16 a.m.

    Klinnsman must look everywhere to find players. Our US national team will continue to be competitive. The problem is that in the end these players that he is looking at are not special players. We need impact players to take our team to the next level and they don't exist. So, meanwhile we need to create a master plan in how we develop future impact players that can get us to the top. This to me this more important than searching for foreign born US citizens. It is a project that we need to start immediately so that in 20 years we will have a mass of talented players to represent our national team.

  5. Walt Pericciuoli, November 14, 2011 at 11:45 a.m.

    The foreign born American player will not lead us to the promised land.If they had been selected by their country of birth full national squads,they probably would have done so gladly.So for now,we are able to tap into second tier national players.Not good enough to lift us to elite status, but still better than anything we are producing now in the US youth system.I agree with you Cony, its' a sad state of affairs that needs to be fixed.

  6. Ron Singh, November 14, 2011 at 4:35 p.m.

    If they want players with experience training at foreign clubs, US Soccer should start encouraging some of the DA clubs to send their top U14 - U18 players to sister clubs in Europe. Most DA clubs have relationships overseas.

  7. cony konstin, November 14, 2011 at 6:01 p.m.

    I believe we need to start with our back 4. We need 4 defenders who can get forward. At this point in time our back 4 are never very good in getting forward. So klinnsman should consider the idea of converting attacking players in become defenders. Here are 4 guys that could be converted. Beasley left back, Nate Jaqua and Eddie Johnson center backs and Chad Barrett Right back. I believe these 4 guys would be better than anything that has been put out there in years. Why? Simply because these guys have more skill than any of the players that have been playing in the back for the US for the last 10 years. Klinnsman needs to think out of the box. Looking at foreign born US players is nothing new. Bora did this in 1994. That is why agree with Ric. We need to seek and ye shall find with our local kids. Another out the box thought. Why doesn't Klinnsman create an all foreign born US team, an all Latino US born team, and an MLS/European base team and have them play each other to see who would win and who would play a prettier game.

  8. Bret Newman, November 14, 2011 at 6:50 p.m.

    LOL! Who do you think we are Cony, BRAZIL! But since we're on the subject, don't forget about Kenny Cooper on D. I think he is the biggest (size) forward we got.

  9. Manuel Trejo-von Angst, November 14, 2011 at 6:52 p.m.

    @Luis Arreola
    commented on: November 14, 2011 at 10:04 a.m.
    Yeah because all of those world titles Mexico has captured. /sarc There is a reason they are turning towards the German kids, they are in a system that actually produces champions. I'm not saying not to look at Mexico but if I get to pick one, I'm picking Germany.

  10. Luis Arreola, November 14, 2011 at 11:50 p.m.

    Lets see. Mexico in the last year has won the gold cup, U17 World cup and U23s won the Panamerican Olympic gold medal. They took 3rd at U20 World Cup and have only lost to Brazil in over 10 friendlies. They are USA's neighbors and seem to be taking advantage of signing and scouting the Hispanic talent here. Before Germany I would look at Mexico because of all these latest facts, then Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile. If I absolutely had to go overseas I would first go to Spain. Germany has done very well but its not logical to jump these options I just mentioned. Mexico is finally structurized to produce to produce the best and they are starting to show it.

  11. cony konstin, November 15, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.

    Spain won the world cup for several reasons. Implementation of futsal in Spain was a big factor and a second factor is that every player on their team can attack including the goalie. We must implement futsal throughout the US and we must stop playing anti football at all ages. Our coaches need to learn how to play attacking soccer. That means who ever is in charge of coaching in the US must revolutionize the way we learn and play the game. That person also needs to create a style of play that reflects our culture. Again I stress that we need to start to think out of the box because what is inside the box is max out.

  12. cony konstin, November 15, 2011 at 11:16 a.m.

    Super Man calling Luis a racist is not kosher.

  13. Luis Arreola, November 15, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.

    Stuper, why is it your comments are always filled with ignorance and untrue info. Mexico beat Argentina in Panamerican championship. Brazil and Uruguay were also there. There is no doubt Germany has a good track record but it is racists like you can not accepto the fact that Mexico has now been doing things right as far as player development is concerned in the last 5-10 years. This is why they are now enjoying all this success this past year. Ignorant racists like you think that trying to copy English style of play or pursuing German players is better Thanh tapping into the best player resource you have. Hispanos

  14. cony konstin, November 15, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.

    This is a major problem with soccer and society in the US. We are a divided nation that has not learn to tap into our number one resource which is our people, because of ignorance, racism, and allowing the status quo to rule the masses. That is why we need a soccer REVOLUTION in the US. It time for the status quo to go away and inject new blood with a new vision. We are not Germans or Hispanics. We are USONIANS -- People of the United States of America. Yes my mom is Mexican and my dad is Greek. But I am a USONIAN and I respect my parents and all other heritages. That is why we need to develop the USONIAN WAY and not the German, or Hispanic Way. What makes our nation so beautiful is that we have every culture, race, color, and religion that exist thoughout the world. That is why we can create a very unique style of play. We just need to put our energies together to create a new way for US soccer. I call it the USONIAN WAY because I feel very strong about what this word means to me. In the end it is all about opening ourselves to positive change.

  15. cony konstin, November 15, 2011 at 3:27 p.m.

    Super Man who care about any of these countries. They got their own problems. We need to focus on our nation. Like I said before we have incredible resources right here at home. We just need to think out of the box.

  16. cony konstin, November 15, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.

    Mike W. Soccer America needs to establish the first symposium to help revolutionize soccer in the USA. Soccer America has been the heart and pulse of socccer in the US for many years. It is time that Soccer America start to turn up the heat and shake up the foundations of soccer in the US.

  17. Luis Arreola, November 15, 2011 at 3:58 p.m.

    Stuper, who has had the best results in the last year? As much as you want to argue with me you end up agreeing with what I say. Since it bothers you so much that I mention Mexico even though the facts are there and your comebacks are weak with ignorance and untrue statemehts we can go a little bit more south. At least you agree that there is more to learn from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay probably cause you assume I am Mexican. There is more to learn from them if you want to base it on history overall than Germany.

  18. Luis Arreola, November 15, 2011 at 4:10 p.m.

    Cony, all I'm saying is that if we are going to look to Germany for help we should instead go much closer for several logical reasons. Whether anybody likes it or not a great part of the soccer culture in USA is Hispanic. It is no secret that there are few or maybe no bigger soccer culture than the Mexican Americans and absolutely no bigger than the overall Hispanic culture combined. Why do we insist on looking overseas for answers? I agree with you completely. Lets concentrate on what is here at home and what has been up until now knowingly untapped. Money and race have always been a problem in this country but has been overcome before and will again with this new soccer craze in USA. Why? Because we can freely state our concerns strong enough to the point where it becomes difficult to be oppressed or ignored. Then the truly great soccer culture will be exposed in the USA. Lets just hope it happens sooner than later.

  19. Kent James, November 15, 2011 at 5:48 p.m.

    It doesn't matter the country they come from, nor their race, what matters is if they can play. I'm sure Klinsmann is scouring the German leagues because he's got connections there (and because of the US bases there, there are many potential US citizens). Given our proximity to Mexico and the immigration links, there are more likely to be players eligible for the US there than there are almost anywhere else, so it should not be an either/or debate. We should be looking at both Germany and Mexico. But more importantly, we should develop players here (and if they're foreign born, but grow up here, let's get them citizenship!). Cony's emphasis on futsal for all is a good start. The strength of the US is in our ability to mix people of all races and cultures, and if our national team can mix various soccer cultures, then we will become a force on the international soccer scene. Here's to hoping it's sometime soon....

  20. Luis Arreola, November 15, 2011 at 8:14 p.m.

    You talk about the men's latest success only ignoring the future players and talent of both countries. Mexico's "overall" success has been greater than Germany's. I am talking about 2 "world cups". So you tcan better understand this as I can see you lack perspective, the best U17s and U20s of each country go to these to prove they have the best young talent for years to come. This is why the USA is having a hard time looking for new players because of ignorant thinking like yours where no one was worried of the future talent that would come and hope for the best with these old guys. Spain was first establishing their youth dominance before taking it all

  21. cony konstin, November 15, 2011 at 8:52 p.m.

    The interesting thing about Germany's success is that they are not using 100% German born players. 100% German means that their mom and dad are only German. Their success has come from using Turkisk and other foreign influences to form the German National Team. They also have a Brazilian. Again that is what make the US so unique. We have a cornucupia of cultures. Again I stress that Soccer America formulate the first soccer symposium to help change soccer in the US. We need radical change. Just look at Occupy America. Young people in the US want radical change. Our soccer is a reflection of our society. People are hungry for innovation and creativity. I am bored to death watching the US play. They are so predictable and one dimensional. If the coach and players are not going to create a work of art then don't step on the field. We miss you Pre. We need a Prefontaine in soccer.

  22. Luis Arreola, November 15, 2011 at 9:28 p.m.

    Cony I agree with you completely. Soccer is an art of expression and creativity. What I point out is an inevitable truth. There are things that nobody likes to say and try to avoid talking about but everybody sees. Basketball was started in USA by white people. Black people had a hard time getting into the pros even though it was clear that they had the most skill and talent to go along with superior physical ability. It was unnecessarily a racial standoff but eventually the best prevailed. Same with baseball. Are there great white BBALL players in Usa? Of course. But the truth is "mostly" black people are better at it. The same is with soccer and the Hispanic community in USA. There are just too many people trying too hard to prove otherwise. Are there great white soccer players in USA ? Of course. But will you ever have 11 to be the best for USA? No. Not even 1/4 if you ask me. I see this white vs Hispanic rivalry all the time with slurs between players as young as U12. Everyone knows it. Germany has had many Polish players as well.

  23. cony konstin, November 16, 2011 at 10:41 a.m.

    Luis that is why we need radical change. We need radical thinkers to shake up the old foundations of soccer in the US. 37 years ago I put together an all Latino team of u19 players that were winning games 18 to 0, 16 to 0, 13 to 0. Finally our opponents complained to the league that I was using players that were over age so the league told me that I had to show up with each player's birth certificate to proof the other team that my players were not over age. We have come along way since but we still have along way to go. It should not be about race but strictly about talent. I stress this again. The beauty of the US is our diversity of people. Hopefully one day we will see the reflection of that beauty on the field. Meanwhile the good fight continues.

  24. Luis Arreola, November 16, 2011 at 3:50 p.m.

    Keep sending your message. New bloggers need to read your input on soccer life to inspire them. I started my own club 3 1/2 years ago and am doing things completely different and radical from everyone else around here. I purposely carry 1-2 subs on my top teams, I always play at least 2-3 up an age or 2, I give all the committed kids at least 20+ games a season not counting tournaments, we play a free style soccer where everyone is allowed to overlap into an open space on the attack, my top defenders and goalies get nominated to mid or forward on a 2nd team to develop to prove they can possibly be better at these new ppositions. Everyone is expected to at least withstand a full game at a high energy but creative and fun pace a day. We are now pretty well known locally for the most athletic and exiting players around. 9 of the first 10 players that I at least had for 3 years are playing for top "Academies" clubs in Chicago. Go figure. They have dropped their level. ????

  25. Karl Ortmertl, November 18, 2011 at 12:30 a.m.

    There are lots of German players because the US has large military bases in Germany. With over a thousand military bases around the globe occupying most countries, one would think that we'd have a lot more players from all over the world to chose from.

  26. Robert Kiernan, February 24, 2012 at 10:40 a.m.

    Well OK... Back to the article at hand... clearly Fabian Johnson is more than a flash in the pan and saying or implying that he is no better than the 23 year olds with all of ONE season under their belt in MLS is rather asinine. But the fact remains that talent or no talent here... we are set up to produce AMATEUR COLLEGIATE players... not professionals, and until there is a change by MLS in moving away from depending on 22 year old rookies who after playing say three seasons will, if good enough turn tail and LEAVE to play in Mexico or in Europe for better pay and stronger competition... that long term just makes those produced and trained here a bit too long in the tooth to compete with others, the Germaricans for sure, who have turned PROFESSIONAL in their teens like it is common nearly everywhere else on the planet... if we don't face this fact we are playing with one leg ... you simply must realize that our whole "pay to play" system is aimed at the upper middle class suburban kid and his family... and that it isn't simply racism at play here, although it does exists, but at least a matter of CLASS and INCOME...
    I've said it before, but while we talk of Latinos being overlooked, and I assure you if they are not well heeled they indeed ARE being overlooked, but how many ASIANS are in this country... now go look at ALL the MLS rosters and tell Me just how many are you seeing not getting to the National Team, but to a professional level HERE... answer no damned many! No our ODP is a joke, to get to that all important third field is more about politics than about ability... and don't but into the mirage that is the so called "Academies" here... fact is if and until those teams that wish to have their own "Academies" finally have the right to SIGN the next Messi or PELE rather than having his contract have to go through Garber and the folks running the League, well they only have so much true self interest in finding and developing said player... change that and you very likely change how a potential great player gets found, developed and possibly sold on to a richer club... while still having the ability to suit up for the USA. ...


  27. Robert Kiernan, February 24, 2012 at 11:06 a.m.

    In regard to Cony Konstin's call to switch up attacking players into defensive players, well that indeed can be done... but the four he mentions are now all too long in the tooth to be expected to successfully manage that feat and frankly I tend to doubt that their respective teams...all MLS which has a rather thin bench at most all of their teams would be thrilled with this move... but Beasley WAS tried at LB and was frankly a disaster there, he's turning 30 in May and that simply is way too old to start looking at him as a likely long term LB... Jacqua never impressed me as that much of a finesse player, he got things done through work rate and shear size, but then this always looked a case of a centerback converted to Striker in the first place, but again he's 30 years old and that is simply too old to switch now...Eddie Johnson is nearing 28 now and his game has been overly reliant on speed...but his touch has always been suspect even before the toe injury that limited his game for a good deal of his stay in Europe...I can guarantee you that Seattle didn't trade away two players to see him convert to a Stopper... so that simply ISN'T gonna happen... and Chad Barrett who is the youngest of these players is just short of 27 now... still on the edge of being young enough to make the squad but RB isn't like LB... we have other real candidates to play there and I tend to doubt that the Galaxy wish him to play there so it's not likely to happen...
    Simply put, our Senior side is getting a wee too old and any likely player being groomed for pushing out some of the established but aging starters is gonna have to be younger than any of these guys... which is why it is important to watch what develops with the u-23 Olympic side... because they are the most likely ones to push for a place in the Senior side over the next two years. ... (ICE)

  28. Robert Kiernan, February 24, 2012 at 11:08 a.m.

    All MLS except Beasley's...

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