CONOR DOYLE CALLED TO IRISH U-21 TEAM
RECAPS
EXTRA TIME
BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday it was announced that US U-20 international forward Conor Doyle was called in to the U-21 national team for Ireland.

In a lengthy interview with the Herald of Ireland, Doyle admits that he is undecided about his international future and would like to play with Ireland's U-21 team before making his decision.

Doyle, 19, was born in Texas and lived there his whole life but he has an Irish passport through his father who was born in Dublin.

Last summer, Doyle unexpectedly signed with Derby County and immediately began seeing time for the English Championship team. Prior to that, he had never represented the US or Ireland at any level.

During the fall, US U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen repeatedly tried to call Doyle into U-20 camps only to have Derby deny his release. In December, Derby allowed Doyle to play for the US in a camp. In January, they would again release Doyle for the biggest US U-20 camp of the cycle.

So now after participating in two US U-20 camps, Doyle confesses that he is undecided even though Rongen has seemed to indicate that Doyle is likely part of his plans for the talented U-20 team moving forward.

This will present a difficult dilemma for Rongen and it will be interesting to see how he handles the situation.

One possible path for Rongen to take would simply allow Dolye to play for Ireland and trust that he will end up choosing the US after he compares the two camps.

The benefits to this would be that it would show the trust Rongen has in his players and the confidence he has that they will prefer him in the end.

The drawbacks to this approach are obvious. In a cycle where a significant percentage of the team are dual nationals, how can you let one player play the field when everyone else is committed to the team?

When it is important to build a team on and off the field, what happens when one player isn't there to integrate with the team but is there to compare it with another setup?

Another approach Rongen could take is to let Doyle know where he stands with the US U-20 team which probably leans toward being included on the World Cup qualifying roster.

He could then tell him that if he plays for Ireland, he won't be allowed back with the US U-20 team this cycle. It would be telling him he's on the World Cup qualifying team and then asking if he is in or out.

Doyle's US U-20 teammates probably don't appreciate him playing for the US while getting ready to suit up for another team. There is the famous story of Sonny Guadarrama several years ago who left the US U-20 program to play for Mexico.

After suiting up for El Tri, he tried to return to the US team and Rongen let the US team vote if he should be allowed. The team voted against allowing Guadarrama to return.

We could see the same scenario unfold here. At this late point in the cycle Rongen and the US players need to know they can count on each other and Doyle has had enough time to think about it.

This would benefit the team because it could demand commitment and reward those talented players that have made the choice to represent the US unwaveringly. Rongen has shown a lot of respect to Doyle and at what point does he demand respect in return?

Obviously a hardline stance like that could alienate Doyle and only increase the chances that he will play for Ireland for the rest of his international career.

Rongen clearly doesn't want to be in the business of developing other country's talent.

This US team is talented and many good players won't make the rosters for qualifying or the World Cup. A coveted roster spot should probably go to the good players who are firmly behind the Stars and Stripes.

Right now Doyle is battling Adrian Ruelas, Jack McInerney, Soony Saad, and Tristan Bowen for a roster spot and any of those players would accept a call up to World Cup qualifying without hesitation.

Are there other dual nationals conflicted on this team? Yes. Alexander Zahavi is in the final steps of deciding whether to file his one –time switch but he lived most of his whole life overseas and represented Portugal first. He's also not openly weighing offers to rejoin Portugal.

Doyle's situation is unique in that he's trying to suit up for two teams in a short period of time just to compare and make a decision on his international future.

But this doesn't make sense.

A single youth national team camp shouldn't tell you how comfortable you are representing that country. In other words, a positive experience at an Irish U-21 camp in February 2011 won't tell Doyle how he will feel in 2021 in playing for the senior team in World Cup qualifying.

Doyle's decision should be easy. What country does he want to help win the World Cup? He shouldn't be factoring in coaches and teammates because they come and go over the course of a career. With the one-time switch available to him, he can change his mind if he makes a mistake or if he falls out of favor with one program after a long period of time.

But making this whole process a long and drawn-out affair is unnecessary because he's been recruited by each team for several months now.

It will now be up to Rongen as to how long he wants this charade to continue.

On a side note, YA has a policy of only covering players that are committed to the US Soccer program. We are going take a hiatus on covering Doyle until he indicates he is done playing the field and plans to only play for the US. Fortunately we should know quickly as preparation for US U-20 World Cup qualifying will begin in less than two months.
Captain10
Friday February 11, 2011 7:37 pm
I'm an American that grew up in Brasil and I can understand being conflicted about which team to play for if the opportunity arises. Conor's situation is a little different since he grew up in the US, but the turmoil is the same. It may depend on how he was raised and the emphasis on his father's culture.

I respect Doyle's desire to gather more information and select the best option, but Conor needs to understand the risks in exploring other opportunities also. Rongen needs to be up front with him as well -- I would hate to see Conor be convinced not to play with Ireland's U21 team and then be left off the World Cup roster for the US. That would surely affect our recruiting in the future.

Regarding other countries tapping our player pool, I think that's fine, because we certainly do that too! We need to make sure that we offer better futures for our prospects so we can retain them (and that means much better coaching than we have now!)

I believe ALL players need to play for the shirt and love of the country, but we currently have one Full National Team player (Altidore) that does not put his hand over his heart when the National Anthem is played -- and I have a problem with that. If they don't 'feel' it for us, then go somewhere else to play.
Alex
Monday February 7, 2011 3:14 pm
Look at Teal Bunbury....You win some you lose some. For Teal the usmnt is clearly a better choice. For conor, leaving could be a better choice, but its possible that maybe it wont be. But it's not like he is doing something illegal, FIFA allows this sort of thing. Don't hate on the kid for exercising his choice. It's his career, he's is going to do what is best for him. I can't fault him for that.
Sean
Saturday February 5, 2011 10:52 am
He has to play for Ireland. He's a professional. If he chooses Ireland, that means he will go through the qualifying process every two years for Ireland, for the WC and the European Cup. If he chooses USA, he has the ridiculous Gold Cup and WC qualifying every four years. With Ireland, he gets to take on Europe's best, as well as a few minnows every now and then. With USA, it's all minnows except Mexico, and he doesn't get any better. He's a pro. He'll bein the premier league in 5 years, and he has to do everything he can to get better as a club professional so he gets paid and makes a good living. Playing for USA at this stage means the MLS is the next stop. Choose Ireland. Just look up Subotic; he's played against top national teams consistently, unlike the silly scheduling doen by Team USA over the last 5 years.
Ed C.
Thursday February 3, 2011 10:26 am
lots of good comments from both sides here. what is dual-nationality afterall?? his father was born in dublin - he wasn't. a LOT of americans have foreign blood (all of us??) but being born and raised in the USA makes you american. subotic wasn't born in the USA. rossi was. rossi, ya gotta love the guy, would be a great asset to the USA but hell, he chose the better team!

so yes, if doyle was really irish, lived in ireland, then i could see him 'testing the waters' over there. what if his other passport (which am sure he doesn't own yet) was a french or greek one? chances are that with his life spent in texas, he wouldn't speak those languages. problem solved!

he's american born and bred. if he cannot accept that and wants to give ireland a shot, let him stay there. you don't mess with texas and you don't mess with the USA soccer program!
David
Wednesday February 2, 2011 11:08 pm
I have sympathy and patience for dual-nationals who grew up between countries. But I can't understand how guys who were born and raised in the USA could aspire to any other shirt.
Woody
Tuesday February 1, 2011 8:26 pm
I say to hell with him and go play for the potato farmers.

The only benefit I see from playing for Ireland would help him with his professional career in the UK. I think I've got my facts straight on that one. The sad part about this is we have lost a few players like this now, and it is becoming somewhat frustrating to watch.

Well I suppose after his career and his days of playing footie, he'll decide to come back to the USA and retire in Florida, California? Typical, I guess that will be just lovely for him.
james
Monday January 31, 2011 9:06 pm
@James I think people are saying at the national team level it is not acceptable to "test the waters". you wear the colors at 19 years because of pride for your country. I can understand feeling conflicted for nationalities but becoming a mercenary at this age and putting national teams essentially in competition for your services is unacceptable. Drop him.
james
Monday January 31, 2011 12:03 pm
i wasn't gonna say anything, but this is ridiculous. would you people calm down. he's just testing the waters and looking at his options. at this level that usually includes playing so one can see the quality available. my god , the attacks he's receiving just for going to a camp...
Ben H
Monday January 31, 2011 11:26 am
He is a young kid and he sees the growing depth in the US squad. He is playing the field to see if he has better opportunities with Ireland. It is the same reason Jermaine Jones is now wearing the stars and stripes. I don't think we should over react. It maybe hard to understand for people with one clear nationality, but just because somebody is conflicted doesn't mean they are disrespecting the US. If his fling with Ireland conflicts with a call-up to one of Rongen's camps then he should make the kid decide where his loyalties lie for this cycle. The US is multi-ethnic and our soccer program has benefited from that diversity. Lets not throw the kid under the bus for one decision.
RalleeMonkey
Monday January 31, 2011 12:19 am
Bye Connor.

Tonnnnsssss of NT candidates are going to have dual citizenship. If a guy has been called up; asked to play, then chooses to represent another country, then "see ya."

We can't have more than half of our players switching back & forth. And, wearing the shirt must be valued. It's disrespecting the other dual nationals that are committed to the U.S. to allow the kid mess around like that. Our talent pool is growing geometrically, losing one kid isn't going to break us.

And, I agree w/ the editorial decision to drop coverage of Doyle.
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