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What next for the Cuban defectors?


Five Cuban players walked out of a Tampa hotel, hoping to find freedom, and for some, a chance for a better fate for their soccer playing careers. Two more players followed their lead a day later.

What will happen next? For team captain Yenier Bermudez and goalkeeper Jose Manuel Miranda, who were definitely impressive against the U.S. national team, I have to imagine both will get good looks from MLS clubs, or does MLS make the players spend time passing through the USL ranks as they get their political asylum situations in order?

Cuban defectors have had mixed results relating to MLS. Rey Angel Martinez one season with the Colorado Rapids while Maykel Galindo has emerged as one of the top forwards in MLS. The last two Cuban soccer defectors, Lestor More and Osvaldo Alonso, have yet to break into MLS despite trials with Chivas USA. More recently signed with the Charleston Battery while Alonso has been on trial recently with the Columbus Crew.

What do you think will happen next for the Cuban defectors? Will they become MLS stars in a few years? USL stars? Will they fade into oblivion? Share your thoughts below.


  1. Well they’d most likely be better citizens than most of us because they actually know what it’s like to not have the privileges that Americans have. And it has nothing to do with them being good at soccer. If five Cubans from the Cuban National Tiddlywinks Team defected, I’d say good for them as well. The situation sucks, and to say that they don’t deserve the same opportunities as you or I because they happened to be born in a different country is asinine.

    But I don’t want to hijack Ives’s blog and turn it into a political discussion, so I’m not saying anything else.

  2. Then why don’t we just open the borders and allow anyone who wants to come to stay? People try to enter our country illegally all of the time, including Cubans. What is so special about these seven Cubans that we should allow them to stay and not everyone else? Is it just because they are good at soccer?

  3. “Obvious”, I’d be curious to see if you would have the same attitude if you were born into the same situation as these players. All they’ve done now is give themselves the same opportunity that young people in many other countries have and the ability to take better care of their families.

  4. These people should be deported, not rewarded with the ability to make big money in professional sports. You’ve got to play by the rules.

  5. It’s a crazy and unexpected story but whether it’s their soccer career or simply their future lives, hope things aren’t too disappointing. It all sounds daunting and scary but there will be chances and those who will give you better opportunity out there.

  6. @Posted by: Danny | March 14, 2008 at 09:30 PM

    Cuba being a communist nation is the least of the problems the US has with Cuba. Comparing them to China is apples and oranges. Oh and BTW, Cuba has trade realtions with just about every other nation on earth. The US embargo isn’t to blame for Cubas problems.

    back OT: whatever they end up doing, I am pretty sure they will make more than the $8 a MONTH they were making in Cuba.

    Anyone wanna complain about Dev salaries now?

  7. Even if they don’t succeed at soccer, their prospects are better here. But there are a lot of soccer teams around the world.

  8. They’re all here for good, obviously. All will get looks from pro teams at some level.

    Unfortunately I think only a couple of the 7 will get MLS deals, and who knows what the chances are of any becoming successful.

    I wish them all the best of course. Just don’t know what I see for any of them.

  9. Oh, and what about that late comeback by the Haitians! Down 1-0 with 3(?) minutes left and come out with a 2-1 win. Wow.

  10. What next for the Cuban defectors?

    “You’ve just defected from Cuba, what are you going to do now?”

    “We’re going to Disneyland!”

  11. You could almost feel the fear. I couldn’t imagine fleeing to another country at a young age. No matter how big of a community there is of the same nationality, the uncertainty is daunting.

    But there could be a high reward for their decisions, and that’s why people take risks.

    Excitement is also mixed in there. Excitement for what the future could hold even when things don’t look clear.

    Bermudez and Miranda should be able to lock on to a USL side before joining the MLS. If it doesn’t work out for them or the other members of the Cuban 7, I’m sure they’ll be able to play in a domestic league of another country in the Americas.

    What you hope is that no one tries to take advantage of their talent and youth.

  12. This is a crazy story. I have to wonder when the day will come that the U.S. lifts its sanctions against Cuba. We obviously don’t have problems dealing with communist countries. Look at our relations with China and Vietnam if you want proof of that. We should be working with Cuba and stop punishing them.

    As for these players, I think they’ll all make their way to play somewhere. I’m not sure of it will be MLS or another league. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some make their way onto rosters in countries like Costa Rica or Honduras. Why not? They’re young and talented. They have a future somewhere.

  13. Ives, I think it will take some time for them to adjust to the fact they they have left their homes/families with uncertain futures. I don’t really think it matters what happens to their careers in soccer right now. I am happy they are here, the many people I have spoken to from communist countries have described it harsh amongst other unpleasant things.

    I was at the game and Jose Manuel Miranda did look good; athletic, quick, well positioned. He has a future playing somewhere for a living.


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