The special relationship between Scotland and the USA hasn’t been as prosperous as it once was due to leaders Donald Trump and Nicola Sturgeon struggling to acquaint, however football is still keeping this transatlantic link buoyant.
The year is 1946, Hitler has been dead for no more than a year, the Cold War is still tepid, and a young Hearts winger would do something that would dwarf any of the aforementioned historical events.
On January 23, Jimmy Walker made his Scotland debut – ultimately his only appearance – in a 2-2 draw with Belgium in front of 46,000-strong Hampden crowd. What makes it so seismic is that he remains to this day, the only US-born player to play for Scotland’s men’s national team. Born in Detroit, Michigan, the exiguous winger – standing at 5ft 7 – achieved very little on the field for Scotland, but still remains profound.
From the down pouring Scottish rain to the Reign of Seattle.
Rachel Corsie captains the Scottish Women’s National Team, SWNT, with 94 caps to her name. She has plied her trade for Seattle Reign in the USA’s National Women’s Soccer League, NWSL, since January 2015 and won the NWSL Shield in her first season. Out of their 21-woman squad, only four players made more starts than her 14, and she remains a regular fixture in the side.
One of her Scottish ex-teammates incited a storm while playing for the ‘reign’.
Kim Little joined Seattle Reign in November 2013 and she too won the NWSL in her first season. She was also the top goal scorer in the league with 16 goals in 23 appearances and secured three out of a possible five Player of the Month awards, which allowed her to win the Most Valuable Player Award come the end of the season.
In her second season, she finished joint-second top scorer with 10 goals but she did manage to finish top of the assist charts with seven – Little was the only non-American in the top 10. It’s fair to say that Little’s form in the US translated to the SWNT; a third of her 48 goals came from her time in America.
The midfielder also has 18 individual honours to her name, including: BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year, Professional Footballers Association Women’s Footballer of the Year, Football Association Women’s Footballer of the Year and the aforementioned NWSL Most Valuable Player.
Of the 19 Scots to play in the MLS (Major League Soccer), only five lasted longer than a couple of years and two – Calum Mallace and Sam Nicholson – are still there. Although, Danny Wilson and Johnny Russell have recently moved to Colorado Rapids and Sporting Kansas City respectively.
Scottish players have won five Conference Championships (CCs) and five MLS Cups. Of the CCs, Adam Moffat has won the most with three, but his sole MLS Cup is dwarfed by Paul Dalglish’s two, which he won consecutively with Houston Dynamo in 2006 and 2007. Dalglish hung up his boots in 2008 to go down the coaching path where he has had mixed success with a total win percentage of 43%, and won the United Soccer Leagues, USL, Premier Development League Coach of the Year in 2013.
John Spencer, also, joined Dynamo as the assistant manager in 2006 and remained there until 2010; during his spell at Houston he won two MLS Cups in his first two years as well as winning the 2008 MLS Reserve Division as head coach for the Dynamo Reserves.
Spencer was hired by the Portland Timbers in 2010 to become their first ever Head Coach until he was sacked in 2012. He then reprised his assistant roles at Colorado Rapids and most recently San Jose Earthquakes, where he was sacked again in 2017.
Father and son, Bobby and Jamie Clark, have also both spent an elongated period of time coaching in America. Bobby spending 16 years involved at ‘The University of Notre Dame’ before retiring in 2017; Jamie is currently Head Coach at ‘The University of Washington’ for his eighth year.
There are plenty of Scots who have dabbled in a variety of American teams: from Colorado, to Portland, Chicago to Houston. However, in Scotland, since the beginning of the Scottish Premier League, SPL, era (1998) to the current Premiership era only eight Americans have played in the Scottish top flight: six for Rangers, one for Hearts, and one for Celtic.
DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu each won six trophies during their time at Rangers. Five of the other players have failed to win a trophy but Claudio Reyna won two while he was also at Rangers.
Unusually, Dominic Cervi spent four years at Celtic, and did not make a single competitive appearance for their first team. Although, he did go out on loan spells to Dundee and Morton. He made seven appearances for Morton and none for Dundee.
Football is often referred to as a universal language. Hopefully our leaders hold the same opinion.