A Cuban soccer player has gone missing ahead of the Nations League match against the United States on Friday night at Audi Field, the latest apparent defection by a player from the men’s national team.

Yonaidis Garcia, a 22-year-old defender, left the delegation shortly after its arrival in Washington on Thursday, according to ADN Cuba, a news website, which cited an anonymous source.

Concacaf, the governing body overseeing the competition, on Friday afternoon said in a statement that it was notified by the Cuban Football Association that Garcia “will not travel with the team to the stadium” and would not be eligible to play Friday. It deferred any further comment to the Cuban federation.

AD

Garcia played for Cuba’s under-23 squad in Olympic qualifying but did not appear in either of the senior team’s two Nations League matches against Canada. He was included on Cuba’s 40-man preliminary roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup this past summer but did not make the final cut.

AD

During the Gold Cup, four Cuban players defected. Last year, 12 left the team during an under-20 tournament in Florida. Four years ago, several players went missing.

The last time the senior squad played in Washington, exactly 11 years ago for a World Cup qualifier, two players ran from the team hotel in Crystal City and did not return.

Since 1999, more than 50 Cuban soccer players, most notably longtime MLS midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, have defected while on duty in the United States or Canada.

Read more:

AD
AD