For all the attention paid to the host of dual nationals currently playing for the United States World Cup team, none of those contributors are technically immigrants. Vox.com actually did a very good job of dispelling this growing myth by showing that every player on the current squad was either born a U.S. citizen or with the right to obtain that status.
But that lack of immigrants on the current roster doesn't mean the United States can't benefit from immigrant players. By the next World Cup, in fact, several promising players who aren't currently eligible could help raise the United States' hopes. Here are a few of them:
Easily the highest profile of the potential Americans, the 17-year-old midfielder has yet to make a senior team appearance for Arsenal but is considered one of their top young prospects. Zelalem was born to Ethiopian parents in Germany but was raised in the United States; he moved to England after signing with Arsenal. He is currently playing on a German passport, but can still switch allegiances to the United States, as he has not represented another country in a FIFA-sanctioned tournament. The last reports in May said his father was close to obtaining U.S. citizenship, which would make Zelalem eligible for citizenship himself and thus able to represent the Stars and Stripes.
For Love of Country
For Love of Country
The Portland Timbers midfielder is considered one of the top talents in Major League Soccer. He is also, despite having lived in the United States virtually his entire life, actually a Liberian citizen. His family fled the war-torn country when he was just five months old and settled in Ohio, where he eventually became a college star at Akron. He married an American citizen in 2012, though, and is apparently on pace for U.S. citizenship by 2015.
The Gambian-born Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder moved to the United States as a 15-year-old and was eventually adopted by a Texas family. He played for Gambia prior to moving, but is still eligible to make the switch and could become a U.S. citizen by 2016. The 19-year-old has only made 12 starts during parts of two MLS season, but has already scored nine goals and displayed some real creative flair.
Another promising MLS youngster who moved to the United States as a child. Born in Uruguay, the 19-year-old only obtained his green card last October, which means he probably can't be eligible to play for the United States before the 2018 World Cup unless he marries a citizen before then. That seems unlikely. Further complicating Fagundez's ability to rep the U.S. is that he's the kind of talent who could draw interest from European clubs. If he transfers away from the New England Revolution in the next couple years, he might not meet the requirement that immigrants must have lived in the United States for 30 months while pursuing citizenship.