Five Things To Know About: Cuba

Presented By Thorne
The U.S. Men’s National Team looks to advance to the knockout phase of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League when it goes for a win against Cuba on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Cayman Islands (7:30 p.m. ET; FS1, UniMás, TUDN).  

Before the match, learn five things about
Los Leones del Caribe.

Footballing History

Founded in 1924, the Asociación de Fútbol de Cuba officially affiliated with FIFA in 1932. The National Team first competed in qualification for the 1934 FIFA World Cup and achieved its greatest success when the Caribbean nation represented the region at the 1938 FIFA World Cup in France.

That appearance in France continues to stand as the baseball-mad island’s top achievement in the game, though Cuba has been one of the more competitive teams in Concacaf’s Caribbean region. Los Leones del Caribe have taken part in nine Concacaf Gold Cups, advancing to the quarterfinals in 2003, 2013 and 2015.

Cuba also won its lone CFU Caribbean Cup in 2012.

Here and Now

Having ended 2018 on a high note with qualification to the Gold Cup and League A of the current Nations League, Cuba has had a rough go of things in 2019, registering a 2-7-1 record this year. That said, they will come into Tuesday’s match riding some momentum after a two-game set with Nicaragua where they drew 0-0 on Nov. 7 and earned a 1-0 victory three days later.

Nations League in Focus

Cuba has had a rough go of things in the inaugural Nations League, dropping their away results 6-0 to Canada (Sept. 7 in Toronto) and 7-0 to the USA (Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C.).

Due to stadium issues, Cuba has been forced to play its home Nations League matches at Truman Bodden Sports Complex in the Cayman Islands. While the venue serves as a neutral site, Los Leones del Caribe did keep things tight in their first match there, falling just 1-0 to Canada on Sept. 10.

While Cuba has already been relegated to League B, they still have the opportunity to play spoiler for the USA on Tuesday night, with a draw or win being enough to prevent the USMNT from advancing to June’s knockout round.

History with the USMNT

Dating back to 1947, the series with Cuba is the USMNT’s third-longest against Concacaf nations behind only Canada and Mexico. The USA holds a commanding 11-1-1 advantage against Cuba, with the Caribbean side earning its only victory of the series in that initial match, a 5-2 win during the 1947 North American Football Confederation Championship in Havana.

Since then, the USMNT is on a 12-match unbeaten streak that dates back 70 years to a 1-1 draw during 1950 World Cup Qualifying. The USA has won each of the last 11 meetings with Los Leones del Caribe and has outscored the island nation 45-11 all-time.

Current Roster

Cuba head coach Pablo Elier Sánchez named a 21-player roster for Tuesday’s match. Notably, striker Luis Paradela plays in the United States, featuring for Reno 1868 of the USL Championship.

Goalkeepers (3): Nelson Johnston (Santiago de Cuba), Elier Pozo (Pinar del Rio), Sandy Sánchez (Delfines del Este/DOM)

Defenders (7): Yosel Piedra (USAC/GUA), Erick Rizo (Santiago de Cuba), Dario Ramos (Artemisa), Felipe Hurtado (Santiago de Cuba), Dariel Morejon (Villa Clara), Manuel Cruz (Camagüey), José Almelo (Pinar del Rio)

Midfielders (9): Aricheell Hérnandez (Independiente/DOM), Karel Espino (Artemesia),  Aníbal Álvarez (Ciego de Ávila), Jean Carlos Rodríguez (Pinar del Rio) , Lazaro Monzon (Villa Clara), José Pérez (Ciudad Habana), York González, Rolando Abreu (Santiago de Cuba), Randy Reve (Santiago de Cuba)

Forwards (2): Maikel Reyes (Pinar del Rio) Luis Paradela (Reno 1868/USA)