Kansas City Wizards forward Sunil Chhetri (L) battles for the ball against Colorado Rapids midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy during the first half of their 2010 U.S. Open Cup qualifying round at Stanley H. Durwood Stadium on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri April 13, 2010. REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

India's place in the soccer world fascinates me. The sheer size and population of the country juxtaposed against its inability to produce players of much quality or a national team capable of making a dent internationally is simply stunning. Along with China, who appears to make more of an effort despite their slow improvement, India is a "sleeping giant." There are, in small ways, parallels to the state of the game in United States, past and present.

Perhaps India needs a player to capture the nation's attention, preferably in a visible league somewhere abroad. With only a few Indians having ever played outside of the country (most recently Bhaichung Bhutia at Bury FC), the strength of the league almost doesn't matter; MLS, while not equivalent to the world's top competitions, would serve nicely. This is America, after all, and regardless of the league's place in the international pecking order, visibility is relatively high.

Despite his best efforts, Sunil Chhetri has not become that player. Disillusioned in Kansas City, where he has hardly played, Chhetri is reportedly looking* (this is not confirmed) to get out of his contract, and is angling to join the India National Team's training in Portugal ahead of the Asian Cup. If true, this is a sad turn of events for a player who might have lifted his country's soccer reputation had he scored a few goals for the Wizards.

Whether or not Chhetri extricates himself from Kansas City, and whether or not he was really given a chance to prove himself there, India is still without a player doing anything of note abroad. If the problem for Chhetri is that he's simply not good enough to play here, then India may have to wait. Chhetri appeared to be the the best hope.

It's not exactly over for Chhetri, especially if he's unable to get out of his contract, but it's hard to imagine Peter Vermes giving him much playing time moving forward.

News is relative. In US soccer circles, Chhetri's plea for his release is hardly noticed, save for a few Wizards fans. In India, although the sport is far from the national obsession that cricket is, Chhetri's frustration and his short appearance against Manchester United (Sunil Chhetri v. Manchester United) are big news.

As a matter of seeing a player from a nation outside the norm make a mark and perhaps give rise to an Indian explosion of Wizards fans, I had high hopes for Chhetri. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it will end well.

*At the behest of someone more familiar with things in KC, I've changed the language here and changed the link. As of now, the only thing confirmed is what Chhetri said directly to MLSsoccer.com.

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