NEW YORK — The news came out on Tuesday that New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara had been called up by the Ireland U-21 team for a couple of European Championship qualifiers.
Meara won’t be going — the club refused to release him — but it does suggest that the Yonkers, New York, native has pledged his international future to Ireland rather than to the United States.
If he does eventually suit up for Ireland, he will be the latest in a line of recent US/Canada-born players to represent the country of his heritage rather than his birth.
Arturo Alvarez (El Salvador) — After representing the US at various youth levels, the Houston native determined he wasn’t in the senior side’s plans, and switched allegiances to his parents’ homeland. The former Earthquakes and RSL midfielder, currently with Portuguese club Paços de Ferreira, has 20 caps and one goal for El Salvador.
Brede Hangeland (Norway) — The Fulham center back’s father worked in the oil industry, and Brede was born during the family’s two-year stint in Houston. But the moved back to Norway when he was a toddler, so even if it was technically possible Hangeland could’ve suited up for the USMNT, chances were slim. To date, he has 73 caps for Norway.
Owen Hargreaves (England) — The one that got away from Canada. The Calgary native had multiple international options and went with the highest-profile one: the Three Lions. A hard decision to criticize, given that he was with England for both the 2002 and 2006 World Cup, while Canada have not qualified since 1986.
Steve Purdy (El Salvador) — A native of Bakersfield, California, the Portland Timbers defender, whose mother is Salvadoran, was called in to the Salvadorans’ 2011 Gold Cup team and made his debut against Panama in the quarterfinals. He now has 5 caps, and scored his first international goal against Grand Cayman last fall.
Giuseppe Rossi (Italy) — Born in New Jersey, the crafty striker joined Parma’s youth side when he was 12, and later suited up for Manchester United, Newcastle, and his current club, Villarreal. He was courted by multiple US coaches, but chose Italy in 2008, earning 27 caps and scoring 6 goals so far for the Azzurri.