With FIFA 12’s release right around the corner it’s high time we start talking brass tax, and by brass tax I mean cover athletes. While Wayne Rooney was already revealed as a global cover athlete, and a few countries had their particular athletes revealed, there were one or two spots open for the North American version of FIFA 12.

Some speculation was done as to who might grace the cover — names like Chicharito and Clint Dempsey were being tossed around — but neither of those players  made the cut. Gamers were close when they guessed that a Mexican national star would be on the cover, it just wasn’t the one we all were thinking it would be.  Oh, and the other cover athlete? It’s Landon Donovan again.

Clearly a strong indicator of FIFA 12’s marginal popularity in North America, this year’s iteration is once again sporting US National Team treasure Landon Donovan on its cover, who is joining MLS and Mexican star Rafael Marquez and Wayne Rooney. Being well known in both the US and Mexico, it does make sense that Marquez would be featured on the cover, but seeing Landon again is a bit of a head scratcher.

FIFA 12 NA Cover Athletes Revealed

While other EA Sports titles like Madden are constantly agonizing over keeping the cover athlete fresh and “of the moment” (they even went as far as passing that decision-making torch off to the fans in a tournament vote), FIFA 12 is simply playing it safe for its North American version — and arguably doing the same in other regions with aged star Rooney taking precedence over younger hot shots.

It’s not something to get too worked up over, FIFA is still all about the core soccer experience, but it’s just something to consider.

What do you think of the three cover athletes for FIFA 12? Do you think Landon Donovan and Rafael Marquez are good choices to join Rooney?

FIFA 12 releases September 27, 2011 for the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, and PS2.