MLS Rumor Mill: Defected Cuban Striker Yosniel Mesa to Portland Timbers?

Posted In Rumors - By Joey Samuel On Thursday, June 16th, 2011 With 0 Comments

Every time that the Cuban national soccer team travels to the United States, it is almost a certainty that a player or two will defect from the group and not return to Cuba. They do this because it is impossible for soccer players to seek a professional career in the sport that they love. This year was no different, as 30-year-old striker Yosniel Mesa broke off from the Cuban team after their 5-0 loss to Costa Rica in their second game of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Mesa left the Cuban camp because he, like many defectors before him, wish to play professionally in the United States, and it appears that there is interest in his services from several clubs.

El Nuevo Herald of Miami is reporting that Mesa is currently training with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL, previously known as Miami FC. With the large Cuban population in southern Florida, a move to the Strikers would make a lot of sense for Mesa. However, the report also suggests that Mesa is attracting at least one suitor from another level up on the American soccer pyramid:

A menos de una semana de haber escapado de la selección cubana en Charlotte, Yosniel Mesa empezó a entrenarse con los Strikers, el jueves en el estadio Fort Lauderdale.

Al mismo tiempo, los Timbers de Portland, el equipo de expansión de la MLS, entraron en contacto con Mesa para invitarlo a sus entrenamientos.

“Todavía estamos en el proceso de tramitar sus documentos para normalizar su permanencia en Estados Unidos”, afirmó su tío Julio, quien le viene brindando apoyo. “Por eso es preferible que no viaje a Portland hasta que consiga su permiso de trabajo”.

The above reports that while Mesa currently trains with the Strikers, he has also received an invitation from the Portland Timbers to train with them. His uncle Julio goes on record saying that they are still in the process of acquiring Mesa’s permanent residency documents, and for that reason it makes more sense to wait until he has his work permits before traveling to Portland.

The article also includes another tidbit, as it mentions that Mesa met former USA international Marcelo Balboa when he did his interview with Univision about his defection. Balboa is currently working with Univision as part of their Gold Cup coverage. Apparently, Balboa told Mesa that he could get him in contact with Fernando Clavijo, director of football operations of Traffic USA, an agency group that owns the Strikers. Balboa helped Mesa work with Clavijo to arrange the opportunity to train with Fort Lauderdale.

As the article mentions, Clavijo was the former head coach of the Colorado Rapids, and during his time there he was given a tip about Maykel Galindo, who had also then recently defected from Cuba. He didn’t end up signing Galindo, but it gave him experience with defected Cuban players, which seems to be coming into play here once again with Mesa.

Whether Mesa ends up with the Strikers, moves on to train with Portland, or goes somewhere else, there certainly seems to be serious interest in him. Other Cubans have found much success in Major League Soccer, such as Galindo and Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.

About Joey Samuel - Joey Samuel is an editor of The Allocation Order. He is also an editor at The Brotherly Game, SB Nation's Philadelphia Union blog. Follow him on twitter @joeysamuel.

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