BRIAN SCIARETTA - Friday, May 20, 2011
In the last few days there are been lots of reports saying that Italian club AS Roma are interested in acquiring an American player to join their club next year. The driving reason for this is that the powerful club has come under new American ownership lead by Thomas DiBenedetto.
So far many American names have been rumored and the most notable have been Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Juan Agudelo, Timothy Chandler, Sacha Kljestan, and Brad Guzan.
I have no doubt that such rumors could very well be accurate, but is it a good thing for American soccer?
While it is tempting for American soccer fans to hope that at least one of these players gets picked up by such a prestigious club, transfers under these pretenses are not a good thing.
What is actually in the best interest of American players is that they find themselves at clubs where they wanted by the coaches and the technical directors for their ability to help a team. While owners run clubs, all successful clubs leave their on-field decisions to the coaching staff and technical directors. If owners meddle into these roles, it creates chaos, rifts, confusion, and disharmony.
A big club having an American on the roster without the support of the coach or technical director is a recipe for disaster. The player could never see the field and interest in that player's development is not a priority.
Furthermore it could hurt the club. Right now with Italy's strict limitations on the number of non-EU players a team can acquire in a given period of time could handcuff a technical director's plans of bringing in the right players for a particular coaching style.
Also there are several other potential pitfalls that surround such deals. It could foster player resentment knowing that the American was just brought in for the appeasement of the owner. Also, the head coach could come under pressure from an owner for not playing the owner's personal pick.
If any of these players are wanted by AS Roma for their talent and the true belief by the coaching staff that they can give the team a better chance at winning, then it makes sense. But with all the headlines that that the American owners want at least one American player to be on the team for no other reason than his nationality, alarm bells should be sounding.