U.S. Soccer can’t lose players because they can’t pick up the phone.
Recently, the subject of dual nationals and the United States Men’s National Team has hit fever pitch. Young players like Sebastian Soto, Julian Araujo, and Sergiño Dest have been the target of interest from other national teams who are looking to bring in these players and others who have the eligibility to play for them. However, in the case of the United States, there’s one main issue that has been keeping these players listening to all offers: no one from the team is contacting them.
Julian Araujo is one example. He recently was visited by the sporting director for Mexico, as the 18-year-old has both American and Mexican citizenship. And while Araujo has said he hasn’t closed the door on any of his opportunities, he mentioned point blank, that he hadn’t heard anything from USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter or “anyone else.” That’s an issue for a program that needs to be utilizing its entire player pool to determine who will form the core for the next decade as we move towards hosting the 2026 World Cup.
Forward Sebastian Soto has recently been approached by Chile as a possible addition to their player pool, despite Soto starring for the U.S. U-20s at the U-20 World Cup this year. Defender Sergiño Dest, who has recently moved into the Ajax first team, has been gaining interest from the Netherlands. Back in early 2018, the USMNT lost midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez to Mexico via a one-time switch. And despite the interest or success from other nations, there’s one common theme: these players are not hearing from the USMNT.
In this day and age, it’s so easy to remain in contact with people. Whether it be through a phone call or text message, email, Facebook Messenger, Twitter or Instagram DM, WhatsApp or Snapchat, there are endless ways to keep in touch. The problem for the USMNT is that it seems like they’re not doing any of that. Of course, there have been a recent win in the dual national department with the one-time switch of Tyler Boyd to the USMNT. Last year, they reached out to players like Kik Pierie and Jordan Siebatcheu. Still, one of the most important tasks for Berhalter, sporting director Earnie Stewart, and the rest of the USMNT program will be to expand and improve the player pool. While they may be doing some of that, players are saying their recruiting game is either nonexistent or subpar.
Players want to know where they stand. They want to feel wanted, like they have the chance to play and be a part of the retooling of the United States Men’s National Team. They won’t know that if there’s not contact from someone at the program to let them know where the team sees them fit in the puzzle, what they need to work on, even if it’s to say “hey, you’re on our radar.” That should be the standard for each player in the player pool, whether youth or veteran. The players need recruiting, and they want to feel comfortable with the program, the coaching staff, the direction of the program, and where they fit in that direction. Put in the work to give them that direction.
The USMNT shouldn’t lose these players or others due to the inability to pick up the phone. As we enter the fall, which includes 2 friendlies and CONCACAF Nations League group play, Gregg Berhalter will have some decisions to make on whether to bring in some talent to evaluate or to load up the A roster and go for it all. What should also happen is ensuring that the players are all on the same page and know what their role will be. If they’re not going to be involved on a particular match, let them know what the thought process is and whether they’re going to feature down the road.
Hopefully, the USMNT can improve at communicating their interest to these dual nationals. Send a text, make a call, or slide into their DMs. We shouldn’t lose them because we decided they weren’t worth picking up the phone to let them know that they’re a part of our future plans.