in soccer, patriotism can be tricky. Thanks to stretchy “citizenship” rules, a pro born in one country can play for a different land in international competition, while talent migration gives youngsters tangled roots. As the Timbers kick off a new season, we present five players with elastic identities. (Note: sports are cruel and rosters are subject to change.)
USA ⇒ Nigeria
The muscular (and, some say, callipygian) striker hails from Oklahoma, but Nigeria-born parents make him eligible for that country’s national team. He scored for the Super Eagles against Catalonia—no, not legally a country, but that’s another story.
USA ⇒ japan ⇒ switzerland
The teenage midfielder (and triple citizen) was born in New York, grew up in Tokyo, and played for a Swiss team. Can he take on teammate Sal Zizzo’s Italian food cart with a pizza/sushi/fondue bike delivery service?
Costa Rica ⇒ USA
Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Wallace moved to Maryland when he was 9. In 2011, he scored a goal for Los Ticos against the USA—causing Timbers fans to erupt in emotionally conflicted hurrahs/jeers.
Canada ⇒ England ⇒ USA
Born in Toronto to British parents, our newest midfielder split his youth between Chicago and England. He’s now a regular player for Canada’s national team. We can’t wait to ask him for tips on jet lag recuperation.
Congo ⇒ NoPo
Raised in Kinshasa, Mwanga emigrated as a teen and ended up at Portland’s own Jefferson High School. No word on whether he and fellow Timber Brent Richards (Camas High School) argue over local-roots bragging rights.