When it became known Jurgen Klinsmann would be in Seattle this weekend, a lot of people asked why. Eddie Johnson was unlikely to play. Brad Evans was out, and there were few other players in the team that looked like good candidates to be call in to the senior national team.
Maybe he was there to see DeAndre Yedlin? Are there Revolution players that could be called in?
Turns out the reason was more obvious. Or, the reason he gave was a more straight-forward one.
Talking to the press at CenturyLink, Klinsmann said his main motivations for the trip were to connect with the team, take in the game, and check out the facilities and hotel ahead of the team’s June 11 World Cup Qualifier against Panama.
Believe him? Sounds plausible enough to me. It’s not like it takes a huge commitment to fly from Southern California to Seattle these days. Besides, remember those conclusions bout the roster we harped on, above? Not exactly a lot of pickings, once you take Johnson and Evans out of the equation.
There is, however, this central midfielder from Seattle you may have heard of, one whose international career was put on hold the he came to the U.S. in 2007. It’s Osvaldo Alonso, a player who’d love to play for the United States, until the Cuban government clarifies his status, he’s ineligible.
[Alonso’s eligibility] is more like an administrative and governmental issue which we have no influence on it. I wish I could have brought him into January camp, and he knows that. Obviously, I’m in touch with Sigi and Adrian here all the time. He deserves a chance. He deserves a possibility, but it’s not in our hands, unfortunately. If Cuba is not giving a clearance, it’s not giving us a bit of help, FIFA is kind of strict in those matters.
There are a select few circumstances that allow a player to represent one country in international play after he’s been capped at senior level by another. One of those situations comes up when a player is no longer eligible to play for his first country.
Alonso appeared 16 times for Cuba before defecting, so he’s tied to them unless Cuba says otherwise. If Cuba says he’s eligible to come back and play, then he is. And as Klinsmann noted, FIFA’s unlikely to step in and influence matters.
Look at it form Cuba’s point of view. To them, this guy is defector, somebody who left the team while they were travelling in the U.S. They may see him as somebody who could come back and play, and while that’s a ludicrously thin way of looking at things, they’re under no obligation to write him off.
You rejected our country and we’re just supposed to sign off on this? Oh, okay. Let me put this application in David Brent’s secret filing cabinet … and it’s gone.
More from Klinsmann:
[Alonso] has a role similar to Kyle Beckerman of Salt Lake. Those two guys as No. 6’s in the league have shown tremendous consistency and the highest quality … He would have been part of our January camp, but unfortunately, we can’t bring him in.
Other items of note from Klinsmann’s chat with reporters, as relayed by Joshua Mayers:
- Further explaining the trip, Klinsmann said his staff are going “all over the place connecting” with teams and coaches.
- Klinsmann mentioned the nine-hour time difference between Seattle and Europe as being a “tricky” factor when scheduling the national team in the Northwest.
- Playing on grass “plays a vital role.” Seattle made it happen. Portland didn’t.
- He’s aware of DeAndre Yedlin, Seattle’s first-year right back. Then again, he follows all the U-20 and U-17 players.