In recent years, the switch of association has been
a mechanism U.S. national team coaches have used to beef up their rosters.
Jurgen Klinsmann convinced Aron Johannsson, who played for Iceland’s U-21 team at the 2013 European Championship, and German youth international Julian Green to switch allegiances, and both went to the 2014 World Cup.
In 2017, Bruce Arena added former Mexican U-20 keeper Jesse Gonzalez and Kenny Saief, who played two friendlies for Israel after spending eight years in its youth system, to the U.S. roster at various stages of the Gold Cup campaign.
But there's no guarantee that switching national teams -- a decision that cannot be taken back -- will work out.
Californian Jonathan Gonzalez discovered that when he filed a switch of association to play for Mexico but has yet to be called up new El Tri coach Tata Martino and wasn't released by Monterrey for the 2019 Under-20 World Cup, or for that matter the U-23 Toulon Tournament after the Liga MX playoffs.
On the American side, only Jesse Gonzalez has been called up by new national team coach Gregg Berhalter in 2019 -- and that was as a last-minute call-up as the No. 3 keeper when Zack Steffen was a late scratch for the March friendlies against Ecuador and Chile.
Johannsson, whose career has been wracked by injuries, was released by German club Werder Bremen at the end of the 2019-20 season, Green is playing in the German second division, and Saief was sent back to Anderlecht after his short-term loan at FC Cincinnati was a failure.
That makes Tyler Boyd's competitive debut for the USA, a month after his switch of association was approved, so special. The New Zealand-born winger was a bright spot in the USA's 4-0 win over Guyana to open the Gold Cup.
Boyd, 24, was something of a late bloomer, breaking in on loan at tiny Tondela in his third season in Portugal in 2017-18 and enjoying a great second half of the 2018-19 season, again on loan, at Turkey's Ankaragucu. His two breakout seasons came after New Zealand failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, losing to Peru in a playoff, so the All Whites never had a chance to call him up for a competitive match.
Boyd, who was born in New Zealand to an American mother and spent part of his youth in California, showed against Guyana just what Berhalter said before U.S. debut against Venezuela on June 9 he liked about the newest addition to the national team: “He’s a very dynamic runner. [He likes] to run behind the line, a vertical-type player [with] good finishing."
Indeed, Boyd filled a void that has been otherwise lacking on the national team -- consistent play down the right wing -- and was clinical on his two goals on a night when poor finishing cost the USA a much bigger win -- double figures, like the U.S. women achieved a week earlier, should have been possible -- against Guyana's Golden Jaguars, who were making their Gold Cup debut.
“Just a dream come true,” Boyd said afterward. “It’s been years and years of work to get to this moment.”
Photo: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire