Most U. S. soccer fans have probably not heard the name Michael Hoyos. And they probably won’t be able to hear it in the future without cringing.
Hoyos is an 18-year-old midfielder who was born in Fountain Valley, CA to Argentine parents. A few years ago, he moved with his mother and younger brother Kevin to Argentina, eventually finding his way onto the youth team at Estudiantes, a storied club in Argentina’s top division. And now, Hoyos is making appearances with the senior team. At age 18. In one the biggest leagues outside of Europe.
So why the cringing? It seems Hoyos is going the way of a fellow dual-citizen, New Jersey-born Giuseppe Rossi, who famously shunned the U.S. Soccer program for glory and plaudits with Italy (not to mention two goals against the U.S. in last summer’s Confederations Cup). According to Yanks Abroad, Hoyos has been invited into Argentina’s Under-20 camp.
Hoyos now appears to join the growing list of top-notch players who prefer their ancestral homelands to the Red, White and Blue, a list that also includes Serbian defender Neven Subotic.
This distressing trend can be firmly laid at the feet of the United States Soccer Federation, which has done a poor job of recruiting these dual-citizens to the program (and, in the case of Subotic, outright insulted him). Sure, overtures were made to Hoyos, but you’ve got to SELL the program. Soccer in this country will never inspire like it does the world over. The U.S. Men’s National Team will never generate the passion one sees in the stands when the Azzuri or Albicelestes take the pitch. So you have to do more than just say, “Hey, wannna play for us?”
Or be doomed to watch kids from Orange County score on us in big tournaments.