With everything that has transpired since last week’s U.S. Men’s National Team debacle, American soccer fans can use a pick-me-up.
What better could there be than perhaps another young star-in-the-making? Dare I say, the next Christian Pulisic?
[ MORE: Bruce Arena is out as USMNT manager ]
Perhaps, but it’s way too early to say that.
His name is Alessandro Cupini, a 10-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri that is about to complete a dream that a soccer player of any age would be thrilled to achieve.
Less than two weeks ago, Cupini and his family announced that the Kansas City Fusion midfielder/striker would be accepting a spot in the AS Roma academy starting in the Spring 2018, after having trained with the club for the better part of two years off and on.
Pro Soccer Talk had the opportunity to speak with Cupini’s father, Eddie, ahead of his son’s big move to Italy.
“This is something that Alessandro has worked really hard for,” Eddie Cupini told PST. “There are times where I tell him that he needs to take a step back and be a normal kid, but he doesn’t have any of that. He’s an incredibly hard-working and driven kid that does more than most people regardless of his age.”
Alessandro — who recently turned 10 years old — isn’t the typically American youngster though, according to his father.
“There are times where I wish Alessandro would take a break and be a kid, but that’s just not in his desire,” Cupini said. “We built him a mini stadium downstairs where he trains basically every day after school. As soon as he gets home from school he’s doing work down there and always looking for other kids to come over to practice with.”
That’s where the comparisons to Pulisic can be worked into the conversation.
Pulisic followed a very similar path to the professional level when he left his hometown of Hershey, Pennsylvania at the age of 16 to sign with Borussia Dortmund. Now, he’s U.S. Soccer’s most promising star as the USMNT looks to rebuild.
“We’re very familiar with Christian’s story, and he’s certainly somebody that Alessandro looks up to,” Cupini said.
Cupini is already on the radar of U.S. Soccer and the Olympic Development Program (ODP), which helps identify young talent in the United States starting at the Under-12 level.
However, because of Cupini’s Italian heritage and his unique opportunity to move to Italy next year, Alessandro could potentially have the chance to represent either the USMNT or the Azzurri in the future.
“It’s a long ways away and we’re taking things slow in that regard,” Cupini said in regards to his son’s international plans. “We’d certainly be willing to explore our options, but I think it would be a real dream and his main goal to play for Italy.”
New Jersey-native and former Italy international Giuseppe Rossi made a similar career choice when it came down to choosing a national team. Despite living in the United States for much of his youth years, Rossi appeared for a number of Italy’s youth teams before holding a stint with the senior side from 2008 to 2014.
Prior to making the announcement that Roma would be where Cupini will ply his trade next year, the young American also had the opportunity to train with Italian academies Empoli and Atalanta.
“My father is from Rome, so for Alessandro to have the opportunity to play for his hometown club it was almost a no-brainer,” Cupini said. “We were very grateful to the other clubs for the chance Alessandro had to train with them, but Roma is a club that is very close to our family.Follow @MattReedFutbol