Olympic Qualifying, USA vs. Cuba: Tougher Than One Might Think

No. – Name – Pos. – D.O.B. – Club
1 – Jose Manuel Miranda – GK – 22.08.1986 – Matanzas
2 – Erlys Garcia Baró – DF – 28.07.1985 – Ciudad Habana
3 – Yenier Bermudez – DF – 08.10.1985 – Cienfuegos
4 – Raicel Mazquia Pozo – DF – 17.09.1985 – Pinar del Río
5 – Yendry Diaz – DF – 06.05.1987 – Matanzas
6 – Alianni Urgelles – MD – 25.06.1985 – Guantánamo
7 – Liván Vasconcelos – MD – 03.04.1987 – Matanzas
8 – Francisco Alexei Carrazana – MD – 23.12.1985 – Cienfuegos
9 – Roberto Linares – AT – 10.02.1986 – Villa Clara
10 – Yordany Alvarez – MD – 24.05.1985 – Cienfuegos
11 – Enrique Villaurrutia – MD – 24.04.1985 – Cienfuegos
12 – Arael Arguelles – GK – 30.04.1987 – Cienfuegos
13 – Eder Roldan – MD – 17.08.1987 – Ciudad Habana
14 – Armando Coroneaux – MD – 02.07.1985 – Camaguey
15 – Juan Carlos Martinez – DF – 30.12.1985 – Villa Clara
16 – Loanni Cartaya Prieto – DF – 12.11.1985 – Ciudad Habana
18 – Yasnier Rosales – AT – 12.07.1987 – Granma
19 – Leonel Duarte – AT – 22.08.1987 – Ciego de Ávila

A lack of information on many of the players is easily overcome by taking a look at the Cuban national team and their results over the past couple of years.  A definite standout is Leonel Duarte, who has featured the most of the Cuban national team, scoring several goals at that level. His key is his versatility – he has featured in both the defense and offense all at the age of 20. Still waiting for his prolonged chance with the national team is prolific youth level goalscorer Roberto Linares Yalmicida who has the pace to give projected centerbacks Ianni and Nathan Sturgis (who we did see get burned a couple of times at last summer’s U-20 World Cup) significant problems.

Defender Yenier Bermudez saw some time in the senior squad’s Carribbean Round of Qualifying for last year’s Gold Cup. Between Bermudez and Yendry Diaz, the Cubans hold a little bit of experience in the back but nothing fully capable of stopping a target man as imposing as Altidore.

The last line of defense, Jose Manuel Miranda, is more than capable if he has the proper protection in front of him. Miranda has already been touted as a better younger version of the current national team keeper Odelin Molina.

Enrique Villaurrutia saw time in the midfield in Cuba’s 2-1 loss to Mexico during the Gold Cup, while Leonel Duarte started the contest and made an impression on the Mexicans. You might have seen the talented Osvaldo Alonso lining up for Cuba if he hadn’t of defected during 2007’s Gold Cup. Alonso was recently on trial with the Columbus Crew and looks to latch on with a USL or MLS team by the end of the preseason. Regardless, Cuba coasted through two rounds of qualifying beating Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, and Bermuda among others along the way. Leonel Duarte scored 6 to make things relatively easy, but the key has been Roberto Linares Yalmicida who had 10 goals through qualifying. If Yalmacida and Duarte can mesh, they can exploit Piotr Nowak’s only projected weakness – his central defense. Therefore, in recap…

Players to Watch Out For…
Leonel Duarte (FW)
Roberto Linares Yalmacida (FW)
Enrique Villaurrutia (MD)
Jose Boudy Miranda (GK)

I’m sure everyone is only thinking, how many defections and with what MLS team will the defected end up???

3 Responses

  1. I remember when Rey Ordoñez defected in 1992 when I believe playing in the World University games in Niagara Falls (story holds that he jumped over the fence and was gone, not sure how true that is). Nonetheless, he did defect.

  2. Bang up preview, Breton. Wish I had time to watch this one…but my other duty calls. Can’t wait to read the report.

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