Nigel Reo-Coker: US National Team Player?
By Simon Allen
January 19th Sky Sports reported that Nigel Reo-Coker was being looked at by New York Redbulls.
“Reo-Coker is married to an American and would consider a move Major League Soccer”
Two days before that, my friends at Prost Amerika reported “ (Reo-Coker's) agent believes he would be eligible for the US Mens National Team after a short period of residence although FIFA may have to be involved.
Reo-Coker earned 23 caps for England's U21 team and was released by Bolton after they were relegated in May 2012. It's a curious rumor to have Reo-Coker linked to MLS. In the 2007 European Under 21 Football Championships, Reo-Coker was part of the squad that famously lost to Netherlands on penalties 13 to 12. Reo-Coker missed his shot. I'll save my opinion on Reo-Coker's performance and how he might be used in New York for another day.
The most intriguing part of this rumor is that the USA National team coach, Jurgen Klinsmann may have spoken to the player and said that he would give him a shot on the squad. If you think about, this isn't as far fetched as it reads. Klinsmann has brought in American players who have previously represented Germany and Mexico. So why not an Englishman?
The USA National team, throughout history, has had it's fair share of foreign born players from 1950 World Cup legend Joe Gaetjens to 1998 World Cup flop, Frenchman, David Regis. Then there are players that most fans think of as American as apple pie like Stuart Holden (Scotland) or Benny Feilhaber (Brazil) and there are players that no matter what they do or don't do can't seem to get passed the hyphenated phase of their career.
On the flip side there are players like Andy Najar. Najar was born in Honduras and raised in America. DC United fans would have loved to see Najar play for the US but instead he chose to play for his country of birth. Famously, there's New Jerseyan Guiseppe Rossi. Often vilified for his decision to play for Italy when most USA fans would have loved to see him don the jersey of his birthplace.
American soccer fans also have a split personality when it comes to naturalizing players. Some feel that MLS is producing enough quality players that there is no need to scour the world to fill up a roster. On the other hand there were DC United fans in 2008 that wished that Fred, an uncapped Brazilian, would get a shot at the Nats. Around the same time, some Real Salt Lake fans were hoping that Yura Movsisyan would change his mind about playing for Armenia and even Frenchman, Sebastien LeToux came out and said he would accept a call up from the US National team to widespread acceptance from Seattle Sounders faithful.
Back to Nigel Reo-Coker. If the rumor is true and Jurgen Klinsmann is thinking about placing him in the National squad, what message does that send to MLS and US Soccer?
Perhaps that MLS is not producing quality players? Or perhaps it's Klinsmann lighting a fire under the players on the National Team? I want to hear your opinion on this. I think Reo-Coker would do well at NY Redbulls. He'd be reunited with Gerard Houllier and enjoy American Top Flight Football. Would he actually do well on the US National team is another story. Let me know what you think.