CHAD WINGER - Friday, October 23, 2009
Recent press reports have been stated that Bob Bradley has been in contact with Leeds United's Bradley Johnson. The young midfielder is having a fine season, having scored six goals from just twelve starts in League One.
I spoke with Johnson, and while he confirmed that he has had contact from the coach and that the US brass has been impressed, there is a potential stumbling block that stands in the way of him playing for the US - he's simply not American.
Some have cited FIFA's "Circular 901" which outlines eligibility to play for national teams. Under part C of this document, which reads: c) His grandmother or grandfather was born on the territory of the relevant Association; Johnson would appear to qualify as his grandfather is American.
This would be true, but for the minor detail that Johnson does not get recourse to American citizenship and/or a US passport based on heritage as is so common in Europe or other countries around the world.
FIFA enacted this rule in 2004 when Brazilians Ailton, Leandro and Dede were issued Qatari passports ahead of qualifying for World Cup 2006 in order to prevent players from becoming mercenaries for international soccer. In other words, FIFA requires each international player to conform to Circular 901 in addition to having had legal citizenship.
It may well be possible that with a player of obvious potential, the USMNT is looking further ahead to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but barring marriage to an American and getting the "David Regis" fast-track to a passport, Johnson will not be donning the US shirt.