In the wake of the United States failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup following, of all things, a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago, the productivity and very culture of American soccer has filled the headlines for the past two days. From Taylor Twellman’s excoriating top to bottom rebuke of all facets of US Soccer to every arm chair GMs “hot takes” about how Iceland qualified and the US didn’t, it seems everyone has an opinion on how to direct Sam’s Army.
As an American, I suppose I should be up in arms too, but for a variety of reasons, I simply have little to no emotional attachment to the US Men’s National Team. Whether it’s due to my Italian heritage or simply the fact that, you know, I’ve literally written hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of words dedicated to the Italian game, the Azzurri hold my heart. Call me a hipster if you will, but that’s just how it is.
Here's the full Taylor Twellman rant: pic.twitter.com/3YOAQrTKmY— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) October 11, 2017
However, after listening to Twellman’s credible and completely justified rant, as well as several others like it, I noticed a common theme, the notion that Americans were beginning to infiltrate the youth academies of virtually every club in Europe. This, of course, got me thinking...umm, what about Roma?
As far as I know, Roma’s American dalliances consisted solely of Michael Bradley and an ill-fated attempt to sign Deandre Yedlin. That’s it. Not even a random goalkeeper. Nothing.
Well, it appears as though I was wrong. Dig this:
That is nine-year-old Alessandro Cupini, an ambidextrous midfielder/forward who lists Paulo Dybala and our very own Francesco Totti as idols. Cruise on over to the kids Twitter account (which is suspiciously active and self-promotional for a child this young), and he’s verified it himself, to the extent a nine-year-old can confirm anything other than blue Jolly Ranchers being “lit”. Cupini currently plays/trains for Fusion Academy KC and will make the move to Roma at some point in 2018, reportedly as soon as July.
So, apparently this was news back in August, but you’ll have to forgive us, we were sort of busy covering Monchi’s first summer in charge to notice such an under the radar signing. Cupini has, quite naturally, been compared to America’s current crown jewel, Christian Pulisic, who is obviously the current gold standard for American talent.
Honestly, I’m not quite sure what to make of this “news”, such as it is. Kids this age get snapped up by European clubs all the time, so the chances that he’s one day teaming up with Cristian Totti to help a 30-year-old Gerson win his fourth Scudetto with Roma is pretty slim. Hell, the chances that he, or any other kid signed at this age in any sport, makes it to a top pro league is infinitesimal.
Still, considering all the attention suddenly heaped on America’s talent development system, it’s an intriguing move. Certainly the salient point of all the US Soccer debate over the past couple days, and really the past few years, is that if you want to be taken seriously as a footballing prospect, you need to get your spoiled ass to Europe, pronto.
So who knows, maybe he never makes his name with Roma, maybe he’s sold to Juventus before he reaches puberty, or maybe one day he back channels his way into Italian citizenship and wins the World Cup.
Either way, we’ll try to keep tabs on him.