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.
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.
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.