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Imagine – A Call From Pires

Jozy has got to and will go down as the first American soccer player to be out and out signed by professional soccer club in Europe, and by a team in La Liga at that.

Sure there were and are other players who laid the ground work for Jozy let’s say: Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel, Eric Wynalda, Claudio Reyna, Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride and so on. However, Jozy Altidore is the first player signed at a young age who Villarreal truly wants to develop and believes that he will be a star.

Why Jozy’s the first MLS developed star:

  • Joining top European club who will play in Champions League and was second in La Liga
  • Signed at a young age
  • Will play for the United States national team unlike Rossi who will play for Italy
  • He’s humble and a fighter on the pitch
  • Scores goals and beats people on the dribble – he’s dynamic
  • He's got the smile

There is Freddy Adu of course, who’s now showing what a star he just very well may become quite quickly now, and although he too joined a class club in Benfica, it’s not La Liga and not in the cailiber of Villarreal at this point in time, Villarreal finished second in the table last year.

The question is, will Jozy be loaned out as has been talked about? He really doesn’t care. He just wants to play and gain experience. But if he’s not loaned out, if he steps on to the big stage and makes an impact in La Liga and the Champions League, soccer in the U.S. will change forever. How many kids will then want to be Jozy? Be like Mike will change to Be like Jozy. It's one thing for Beckham to come to the MLS but it's very different for young kids to see a U.S. player shining overseas.

There’s a teammate of Jozy’s at Villarreal, Giuseppe Rossi, who’s played for Parma, Manchester United, and Newcastle. Rossi is also from Jersey like Jozy, but Jozy’s the first MLS player who was on the radar of European teams while he was playing in the MLS and at international youth tournaments and then got scooped up. He's the first player to really have all this attention drawn to him while he was in the MLS and then signed. His transfer fee nearly double the previous ones - at 10 million dollars.

Jozy also said he’s going to keep writing his blog for the NY Times, perhaps throwing in some Spanish I’m sure. He was happy to get a call from one of the Villarreal players, a World Cup winner at that:

I didn’t see any of the team’s players, but I did get a phone call from [Robert] Pires who welcomed me.

Extra: Who’s the next American to join the European ranks? There are rumors about Brek Shea who plays for FC Dallas. I haven’t seen him play, but what was interesting were some of the comments in the SI piece, about how players are always from somewhere else.

One commenter pointing out the international flavor of United States national team players:

  • Jozy Altidore-Haitian
  • Freddy Adu-Ghanan
  • Dominic Cervi-Italian
  • Ouchi Onyewu-Nigerian
  • Lee Nguyen-Vietnam
  • Sal Zizzo-Italian
  • Quentin Westberg-French
  • Donovan – Canadian (parents both from Canada)


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