Ireland Still An Option for Doyle

Thursday, December 09, 2010 | View Comments

In addition to Giovanni Trapttoni's initiative scouring America for players with Irish-sounding names, Ireland's Under-21 coach has his sights on a player plying his trade much closer to the Emerald Isle: Conor Doyle.

Doyle, who was born and raised in Texas and has a Dublin-born father, is in Florida with the US US-20s.  That doesn't mean he has decided for whom to play his senior international soccer, however.

From Irish Central:

"I can play for the USA or Ireland, so a definite decision hasn't been made yet, but I am honored to be called up…I can't wait to get out there, it's a real privilege and it will be a great experience."

If I was forced to put money on it, I'd bet that Doyle ends up in the US pool at some point. It's not a slam-dunk, however, particularly if Doyle knows he has a better shot at playing time with Ireland (yes, I know the US is short on strikers right now, but that  could in relatively short order).  I can't help but wonder what the reaction might be should a promising young American playing in Europe (even if it is second division) choose to play for another country.  After playing for the US U-20s and being more "American" than "Irish", would Doyle get the junior (maybe junior-junior) Rossi treatment?

Not that I'm attempting to rabble-rouse.  It helps Doyle that he's off most fans' radars, playing in The Championship; those of us with too much time on our hands and an Americans abroad obsession knows he's there, but the average American fan (read: the ones that know about Rossi) might not.

I defended Teal Bunbury's decision in the face of Canadian criticism (though I can't defend how he conducted himself in the months ahead of his call-up), and if Doyle chose Ireland, I'd defend that choice as well.  We're past the point where playing for your National Team is a simple matter of pride and patriotism.  Players are as much mercenary (though they're locked in after a certain point, obviously) in the international game as they are in the club realm.  It's not a matter of money and contracts, but it might affect where they can play and how much they'll be paid.  Playing in a World Cup or a Euro is a resume-builder.  Not every player thinks of their choice in those terms, but all of them are aware of the reality.

Again, I'm not really worried about losing Conor Doyle to Ireland, but his continued keeping-open-of-his-options at least leaves a bit of doubt.

After last month's friendly in South Africa and the number of dual-eligibility players who appeared to declare their American intentions, the dam on US success in that area has either broken or seems to be on the verge of doing so.  Names like Diskerud, Agudelo, Bunbury, etc., plus the number of youth internationals who are accepting US camp call-ups give the impression that American fortunes when it comes to players with a choice are changing/improving.

Of course, the Republic of Ireland isn't Italy, and Doyle isn't Rossi.

But every time a player chooses to play for someone else, particularly if they show promise in any measure at all, it will sting.  That is Rossi's American legacy.

For the record, Doyle has three appearances in all competitions for Derby County this season and has yet to score.  Oh, and his Wikipedia page is marked for deletion, whatever that means.

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