US Men’s Soccer: Team USA Turns To Latinos For November Friendlies [VIDEO]

Alejandro Bedoya
United States' Alejandro Bedoya leads a contingency of Latino players who will be playing for team USA this month REUTERS/Tony Gentile

You might not recognize the United States Men’s National Team when they take the pitch for their two November friendlies against South American powerhouse Colombia and the Republic of Ireland. That’s because US Coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, has added an influx of Latino talent over the past four weeks and he has adopted a strategy of pooling talent from anywhere and anyplace.

When the United States takes the pitch this Friday against Colombia, there will be nine Latino players on the team. There are familiar faces like LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez and Real Salt Lake’s goalkeeper, Nick Rimando, and then there are a number of new faces who will be auditioning for team USA’s World Cup run in 2018. Among the new players are Greg Garza (Tijuana Xolos), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Joe Corona (Tijuana Xolos), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake) and Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes).

“We are looking forward to young players that bring a lot of energy to the table and really enjoy what they are doing,” said Klinsmann last month. “They want to prove a point, but all in a team context.”

In addition to recruiting talent in the MLS, Liga MX and in Europe, Klinsmann has grabbed talent from the most unlikely of places for November matches. Mexican-American Miguel Ibarra will be on the roster against Colombia and if you don’t recognize the name, that’s because most don’t. But we assure you, Ibarra is the real deal. Ibarra plays for Minnesota United FC in the “North American Soccer League,” a heavily underdeveloped lower level league across North America. When Ibarra takes the pitch on Friday, it will be the first time in United States Men’s Soccer  that a non-MLS domestic league player has been on the field since 2005.

Klinsmann has also returned home to his native Germany to recruit another Latino star, Alfredo Morales. Morales plays for FC Ingolstadt 04 out of the Bundesliga. He is of German, Peruvian and American descent who Klinsmann convinced play for the U.S. back in 2012 when he wanted an opportunity to play in the Olympics.

“Our national teams are a mirror held up to the country itself; increasingly diverse with people of many varied backgrounds and experiences contributing to one, united cause,” said a spokesperson for the USMNT supporter group The American Outlaws who have adopted a new slogan in Spanish, “El Equipo de Todos.” “It is in the spirit of that diversity, and, specifically our Hispanic players and fans, that we dedicate Alfaro’s work to them.

We have to admit that Klinsmann’s incorporation of more Latino players and international stars with American backgrounds not only makes the game more exciting, but expands the talent pool and identities for millions of Americans from all backgrounds and ethnicities. Like the country itself, diversity reigns supreme. Thankfully, Klinsmann took October’s Hispanic Heritage Month to heart in his addition of mostly Latino players.

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Michael Duarte

Michael J. Duarte is a Los Angeles based writer. Born and raised in the City of Angels, Michael did his undergraduate work at the University of California Santa Barbara and a graduate program at the University of Southern California. Michael was awarded the Paul Lazarus Screenwriting Scholarship Award in 2004 and the Corwin Writing Award for his feature screenplay, "Chasing 4:00" in 2005. In addition to Sports writing, Michael is an avid marathon runner and fan of the Magic Bullet blender.