BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, September 21, 2011
With the number of German-American players in the Bundesliga increasing in recent years, FC Kaiserslautern forward Andrew Wooten could soon be the next to join this group as the club now has him training consistently with the first team.
Wooten, 21, received news earlier this month that he was invited by Kaiserslautern head coach Marco Kurz to join the first team for training. So far in his first few weeks, Wooten has found the increase in the level of play to be significant but he is motivated by the challenge.
"Practice has been very good so far with the first team," Wooten told YA from Germany. "It is much harder than with the second team but I am trying to do my best to make it onto the first team."
Wooten also recently received a boost in confidence through positive feedback from Kurz who has praised Wooten's effort so far in practices with the top team.
At this point, Wooten does not know when he will make the leap to the first team but he is optimistic it will come sooner than later and he is confident he can do well in the Bundesliga.
"I feel like I've been doing a good job and I've talked with the coach and he thinks I am doing a good job," Wooten indicated. "He said I just need to keep working hard. I'll keep doing my best and I hope sometime soon I will be playing for the first team."
"I think I can make the jump," he added. "It's a big challenge for every player. I've played a lot of games for the second team. I believe I can play in the Bundesliga."
Wooten played last year for Kaiserslautern's U23 team and had a successful season where he scored 15 goals. Last May his contract with FCK expired but he decided to return to the club because he felt it offered him the best chance to see minutes in the Bundesliga.
Wooten began the season again with the U-23 team and has so far scored twice. Now with the Bundesliga in sight, he is very happy with his decision to return.
"I came back to FCK because I felt it was the shortest way to make it to the Bundesliga," Wooten analyzed. "Here at Kaiserlautern, everybody knows me. It's a lot harder for me to do my best with a new team."
Wooten was born in Bamberg, Germany and is the son of a German mother and an American father who was in the US military and he is the lastest in a growing number of American players who are born in Germany but have their US citizenship derive from a parent in US military.
US national team players Timothy Chandler, Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, and David Yelldell along with US Olympic team hopefuls Daniel Williams, Terrence Boyd, John Anthony Brooks, Alfredo Morales, Jann George, and Jerome Kiesewetter all have similar backgrounds.
Wooten's ties to the United States are strong. He speaks English and he lived for the United States for a year when he was a teenager. It's a time he remembers fondly.
"I lived in the United States for one year with my father," Wooten recalled. "I lived in Virginia and it was a great time."
Should Wooten begin to succeed in the Bundesliga, questions will likely arise about his international preference since he is a dual citizen. For Wooten, the question is an easy one and he is emphatic in his desire to play for the United States over his native Germany.
"I'd rather play for the United States," Wooten said bluntly.
Wooten is particularly interested in the US Soccer's recent decision to hire Jurgen Klinsmann as head coach of the national team. He grew up playing forward in Germany at a time when Klinsmann was both a legendary former player and a popular coach for the German team at the 2006 World Cup.
Wooten is optimistic for the future of the US team under Klinsmann and he hopes that one day he will have the opportunity to play for him in the years ahead.
"I think it was a good move for the United States," Wooten concluded. "He was a good player and he really knows the game. I think he's a very good coach."