Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Learning About Cuba... and Having Some Food

Being the coach of the Cuban national team comes with an added challenge -- every so often players defect and you never get to select them again. Since 2005 no less than ten players have defected from either the senior or Olympic teams. While it's too soon to know if any of the seven Olympic team members who defected this year will amount to anything, there are two previous defectors that many teams in CONCACAF would love to have.

Osvaldo Alonso defected during the 2007 Gold Cup tournament. After being low-balled by Chivas USA he signed with the Charleston Battery, who also signed defector Lester More. Alonso had a huge year for the Battery, scoring a total of seven goals while patrolling the midfield. His standout play led to him being named a finalist for the USL1 Rookie of the Year award.

Maykel Galindo defected after the 2005 Gold Cup and signed with the Seattle Sounders. After slightly less than two seasons in the land of Starbucks Galindo signed with Chivas USA. Although he's been injured for large swatches of this season, his blistering pace helped him score 12 goals in 28 regular-season matches last year.

Would adding these players back into the Cuban national team make them locks for a World Cup berth? Probably not, but it would certainly make games against them more difficult and add some spice to the qualifying process.

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