Former US youth player Teresa Noyola has decided to leave the American system and represent Mexico internationally. The Stanford product is not doing it for patriotic reasons, but rather because she has philosophical differences with the tactics the US team plays.
Although many of us can agree with the underlying reason for her decision this is still a pretty weak justification for turning your back on a federation that has invested time and energy into developing you as a player.On U.S. youth programs, when push comes to shove, coaches in the U.S. will resort to a more direct game, in which they don't really see a place for me. With Mexico, what I've seen is that the coaches promote keeping it on the ground and commit to breaking a team down with combinations and skills, even if the going gets tough. It fits right in with how I think soccer should be played, and how I try to play my game.
If this was a men’s player this would be major news. Since it’s not – and since Noyola was a borderline prospect – it will likely go by with little fanfare.
It shouldn’t. It’s frightening to see how easily players make decisions like this. One gets the impression that Noyola decided to represent Mexico much in the same way she shoes to go to Stanford. It wasn’t an exercise in pride and honour but rather a cost-benefit analysis.
This is not to say that she doesn’t have every right to do it. She does. The rules are what they are. This isn’t an issue of legality, it’s a test of character. To me, Noyola has failed.
There are legitimate reasons to switch countries. Unfortunately the FIFA rules don’t allow for it to happen. If a player immigrates to a country and settles there then most of us can understand that they might feel a connection to their new home and want to represent it as thanks for the life it gave them. In the 1980s, the hockey player Peter Stastny decided to represent Canada in a Canada Cup using that very reason. Canadians loved him for it and no one thought twice about his choice.
Why FIFA doesn’t use Olympic rules to determine eligibility is beyond me. If you area citizen of a country you should be able to represent it. If you’re not, you shouldn’t.
The other side to this story is that Noyola is right. The US does fall back to long ball tactics far too often and it’s why Germany has overtaken them as the best women’s football team in the world. As the World Cup draws nearer we will likely revisit this issue. Today, however, we will simply shake our head at Noyola’s decision.