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Cuban Player Talks

In an exclusive interview with the Insider, one of the two Cuban players who left the team's Virginia hotel with the intent of defecting tells his harrowing tale. Read the story. Share your thoughts in the comments section.


By Steve Goff  |  October 13, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  CONCACAF  
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Next: Golazo!

Comments

There's always been a part of me that thinks it's a bit selfish to abandon teammates before a big game. On the other hand, when it comes to your career and future. I can't blame someone for looking out for number 1.

Posted by: J. | October 13, 2008 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Incredible!

Posted by: strago | October 13, 2008 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Excellent work, in between this and the Crayton story, that's some mad multitasking on your part Steve. My hat's off to you sir.

Posted by: Section 130 | October 13, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Who knew you could catch a cab in Crystal City? Great work, as usual, Steven.

Posted by: Seth|NYC | October 13, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Its unfortunate that the situation in Cuba has come to this for so many. I can't imagine what Alcantara must be feeling right now. Of course the political standoff with the U.S. has only created more tension between the two countries and there is no end in sight to this almost 50 year debacle.

Posted by: sbg | October 13, 2008 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Anyone know anything about the players in question and what their prospects are for pro soccer in the US?

Posted by: JDO | October 13, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

my club team is short a few players - any idea where I can find the runaway cuban to recruit him?

yet another example of how someone will risk it all to live in america - something that too many of us take for granted

Posted by: dcu in iraq | October 13, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Steven Goff: soccer, foreign travel, international incidents. Is there something he doesn't write about?

Excellent work.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | October 13, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

The juxtaposition of both articles on Sports p3 really illustrated the contradictions in America. On the left side is an article about someone coming here in search of freedom. On the right is an article that shows that the shining city on the hill still has some filthy neighborhoods.

"Little pink houses for you and me."

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | October 13, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Excellent observation above, I-270. That struck me when I opened the dead-tree edition, too.

Posted by: Stevan in Gaithersburg | October 13, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Where's Janet Reno when you need her?

Posted by: Hoost | October 13, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Wow, with the mass defections the U-23 Cuban team saw not too long ago with the mass defections from the Men's team, it is only a matter of time before they will be losing 10-0 instead of 6-1.

Posted by: GLD123 | October 13, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"I ran and ran and then told the taxi driver to 'Drive me far away,' " he said. "I was so nervous. I didn't know where we were going, but I knew I was in a free country and everything would be okay."

Wow. Just...wow. Great reporting.

Posted by: Colin | October 13, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

A forward you say. Get him a tryout.

Posted by: VirginiaFan | October 13, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Great work Steven! It's incredible the two defectors didn't know about each other's intent. I'm impressed that he is willing to speak with a reporter so quickly after this huge event in his life. He obviously felt very safe speaking with you. Congratulations.
David

Posted by: David | October 13, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Great reporting yet again, Steve. Don't let Karen DeYoung steal you away from us!

Posted by: Joe Doc | October 13, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

amazing this stuff still happens, ain't it?

Posted by: northzax | October 13, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

amazing this stuff still happens, ain't it?

Posted by: northzax | October 13, 2008 12:37 PM

=========================

No, it's not amazing at all. It has happened consistently throughout the many decades that Marxist totalitarian regimes have imprisoned people. The USA (among other Western democracies) has been and remains a place that people who have been deprived of their freedom under such regimes are, quite literally, dying to to get into. For all those on this blog who blather about the literacy rate in Cuba, etc., etc., please consider that.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 13, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

PS -- Great reporting Mr. Goff.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 13, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Great scoop, Steve. You do wonderful work.

Posted by: Bill in Md. | October 13, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

""For all those on this blog who blather about the literacy rate in Cuba, etc., etc., ""

And for all those who blather on about what such a horrible place Cuba is, please remember to check the tags of origin on your clothes, toys, etc. If it says China, remember you are complicit in perpetuating oppression, slavery, etc. The fat elephant does business everyday with the Reds and Chavez. You don't seem to care

Posted by: oh what a wanker what a wanker | October 13, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to freedom buddy. Freedom to have your phones tapped, to have the goverment spit on the constitution, to torture people.

Freedom, yeah right.

Posted by: | October 13, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for checking in, Barack.

Posted by: Joe Doc | October 13, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous Dude and Wanker Man:

You are "free" to enjoy your "freedom" in Cuba or Venezuela. I'll take mine, warts and all, in the US of A. Just leave your passport at the door, and we'll use the vacant spot(s) for a winger and/or central defender with speed. Don't let the door hit you in the a*s on the way out.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 13, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

And yes, the Guantanomo Bay folks are really just so happy . . not to mention Abu Gharaib!

""The USA (among other Western democracies) has been and remains a place that people who have been deprived of their freedom under such regimes are, quite literally, dying to to get into""

Posted by: take your blinders off | October 13, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

OWNTF --

That wasn't the point the poster made. Don't default to silly patriotic blather and ignore the actual issue. Why do we continue to isolate Cuba while other totalitarian states are treated differently? Do you know or care? Or is this just another opportunity to spout ridiculous jingoistic BS?

Posted by: BS from OWNTF | October 13, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I like it when people criticize the US government. It reminds me of why I'm happy to live here.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | October 13, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I don't wnat to get involved in any political battles on Cuba policy, but man, can't everyone agree that this guy did something gutsy. Man, to just run and not look back, start a new life in a new country, learn a while new language, and not know when you will see you family or friends again. Pretty brave. Makes you love this country, red or blue.

Posted by: T. Henry | October 13, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

osvaldo alonso played the whole game in the open cup final for the battery, he walked away from his team during 2007 gold cup.

not sure if this was covered then

Posted by: Atl | October 13, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Ay, 270, ne'er truer words hath been bespoke . . er . . something like that . . .but failure to recognize and, if possible, address the sins of our government make us no better than the revisionist history of the Stalinists.

Posted by: delantero | October 13, 2008 8:54 PM | Report abuse

fantastic piece by Libby Copeland in the Wapo about mudslinging politics.

""Or Abe Lincoln. According to an 1864 edition of Harper's Weekly, Lincoln was disparaged as a "Filthy Story-Teller," a "Buffoon," a "Usurper," a "Monster" and a "Land-Pirate," whatever that is. His enemies also described him as "A Long, Lean, Lank, Lantern-Jawed, High Cheeked-Boned Spavined Rail-Splitting Stallion," which actually makes Lincoln sound kind of hot, except for the "spavined" part. (We looked it up. It invokes horses with diseased joints, or more generally, decrepitude and decay.)

Posted by: que viva la revolucion | October 13, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Obama is in favor of continuing the embargo. So am I.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 14, 2008 2:44 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to freedom buddy. Freedom to have your phones tapped, to have the goverment spit on the constitution, to torture people.

Freedom, yeah right.

Posted by: | October 13, 2008 4:09 PM

____________________________________________

Thank you, Mr. de la Rocha.

For what it's worth, I think this article illustrates the relative freedom in which we, as Americans, do live. Perhaps we have not struck an ideal balance just yet between security and civil liberties, perhaps we still have a long way to go before we are a paragon of equality and justice for the world to behold, but that does not change the fact that people the world over are willing to go to great lengths and make great sacrifices to enjoy the benefits of being a part of our imperfect society.

Posted by: Jamie Z. | October 14, 2008 2:56 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like you are both interested in getting a)elected by trying to win Florida and b) continuing failed policy that only serves to inflict severe human costs on the Cuban people . . . of note to you . . . the Cuban government is still around and c) makes you both hippocrites (China?)

""Obama is in favor of continuing the embargo. So am I.

Posted by: OWNTF | October 14, 2008 2:44 AM ""

Posted by: same old failures | October 14, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I really don't feel like getting into the politics of it. I'll leave that to the rest of you who are interested.

I have had the chance to meet a couple of the guys who defected a couple Gold Cups ago. I had the chance to get to become friends with one and he's spent time with my family in our home. Defecting isn't easy. It's really hard. Dude is happy to be playing, even if it is just the USL1 & MISL. But he misses his family. Especially at holiday time, like last Christmas. We were worried about him. We made sure to invite him over to visit during that time. He sends most of his money home to his mom and family who lost their state jobs because he defected to support them (the family having to pay a price is very common). When his NT plays he misses the guys and the chance to wear the jersey. Dude isn't really a political sort of guy. He just talks to you about what his life was like. He's like to go home to visit but is afraid to.

It is easy to sloganeer a la Tom Morello or one of the hardcore anti-Castro types... Everybody, clearly has a right to their own opinion.

All I'm saying is it's really easy to talk out of your *ss about how great things are there or how terrible things are there. Most of us have never been because we can't go legally. I'll take a guy sitting in my living room telling me about the complexities of his life over some overromaticized Rage of the Machine (or even worse Audioslave) song or some guy who hates Castro so much that he doesn't realize that there is still some sort of beauty of life there even with the complexities that they cubanos who live there face.

I wish this guy the best. It was a pleasure watching the Cubans give it there all on Saturday night. The players and their staff did the best that they couold, even while clearly outmatched which is what true competitors always do and for that they have my great respect.

Posted by: yankiboy | October 14, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

yankiboy,

Interesting comments. I'm posting late to this, so probably no one will read it, but as the son of an early 60s emigrant, I see both sides of the argument. I only wish there was a chance to visit for myself now, as well as for my family that left.

Thanks to Mr. Goff for an excellent article.

Posted by: teamn | October 14, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

@teamn: I got to read to comment.

I was late posting (still licking my wounds from my Puerto Rico Islanders losing the USL1 Championship on Sunday).

I would really love to visit myself as well. One day, hopefully i will have that chance.

Posted by: yankiboy | October 15, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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