24 players invited to MLS Caribbean player combine

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By DAN KARELL

Looking to further their growth and reach in the Caribbean, Major League Soccer has invited 24 players from 16 different nations to the first-ever Caribbean Player Combine.

Set to take place from Jan. 2-4 in St. John, Antigua & Barbuda, the combine will offer the players, ranging from 18-to-24-years old, a chance to make it to the MLS Player Combine from Jan. 10-14 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Nearly all of the players set for the combine have earned caps for their senior national teams, and a few have played in the USL Pro division before, including Antiguan and Barbudan duo Quinton Griffith (Charleston Battery and Stefan Smith (Charlotte Eagles).

MLS is partnering with the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) to set up this three-day event, which will be watched by numerous scouts from around the league.

Here’s a full look at the 2014 Caribbean Combine roster:

CARIBBEAN PLAYER COMBINE ROSTER

Name – Age – Position – Country

Damian Bailey – 22 – M/D – Anguilla

Quinton Griffith – 21 – M/D – Antigua & Barbuda 

Stefan Smith – 24 – F – Antigua & Barbuda

Leroy Oehlers – 21 – D – Aruba

Drewonde Bascome – 21 – M – Bermuda

Ramon Sealy – 22 – GK – Cayman Islands

Quinton Christina – 18 – F/D – Curacao

Malcolm Joseph – 20 – D – Dominica

Delbert Graham – 20 – M – Dominica

Vladimir Pascal – 21 – M – Guadeloupe

Steven Davidas – 21 – M – Guadeloupe

Jean Ismael Voltaire – 19 – D – Haiti

Luckner Junior Horat – 19 – D – Haiti

Kemar Lawrence – 21 – D/M – Jamaica

Kendall Allen – 21 – D – Montserrat 

Joseph Marrero – 20 – M – Puerto Rico

Samuel Soto – 21 – M/F – Puerto Rico

Jose Sandoval – 22 – M – Puerto Rico

Jamal Francis – 20 – GK – Saint Kitts and Nevis

Eden Charles – 20 – M – Saint Lucia 

Stefano Rijssel – 21 – F/M – Suriname

Miguel Darson – 20 – D – Suriname 

Kavon Ceasar – 19 – D – British Virgin Islands

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What do you think of this list? Know of any of these players? Glad to see MLS reaching out into the Caribbean?

Share your thoughts below.

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58 Responses to 24 players invited to MLS Caribbean player combine

  1. Northzax says:

    Question: if they make the actual combine, does that make them draft eligible? Or are they free agents?

  2. beto says:

    interesting.. you never see these nations produce anything good but plenty of immigrants from these islands make it big in the USA, England, France, etc.

    maybe a little infrastructure like this could be whats missing, and a gold mine for MLS.

    • TomG says:

      “You never see these nations produce anything good?” you’re an a$$. Get a clue.

      • Brant says:

        Beto was perhaps a bit indelicate in his brevity, but the fact remains that very few players from any of these nations ever set the footballing world alight.

        Most of the quality players from these nations have traced heritage back to family living there, but they grew up as the children of immigrants elsewhere. I don’t see how pointing out simple facts makes one an “a$$”

        However, if you took “you never see these nations produce anything good” to mean literally *anything* as opposed to an in-context reference to footballers, then I suppose your righteous-anger-reflex is bound to go off, eh?

        • Dennis says:

          Stern John from T&T did not move to the US until he attended Junior College at Mercer CCC in NJ. He was a prolific scorer for Mercer and for the Columbus Crew before moving to england for a 1.5 million pound transfer fee. He also scored 70 goals for the T&T national team. Beto was trying to make a point, but John is a counter example.

      • Jake says:

        I think he was referring to the national teams of these countries. If so, he’s correct.

      • Ian says:

        Wow, relax. The Internet is always producing either vile, inhumanity or hair-trigger sensitivity. Can’t we just talk to each other like grown-ups without assuming the worst?

      • beto says:

        somebody having a bad day? ya i meant in terms of national teams or pro footballers. of course they are beautiful countries with many great people and culture but who was the last St Lucian or Antiguan born and developed pro soccer star?

        My point was that countless international stars are either immigrants or children of immigrants from the islands and maybe by providing some framework for similar guys to go pro could uncover a future star.

        just a few examples of guys from these countries that when given the opportunity to play in a more developed structure of a youth football system turned into stars:
        Anelka, Gallas, Henry, Clichy, Saha, Syvestre, Abidal, Maurice-Belay, Remy (Guadeloupe & Martinique) , Ferdinand, Defoe (St. Lucia), Hensky (A&B), Zamora (T&T), DeRosario (Guyana), Wright-Philips (Grenada), Cole (Barbados), Altidore (Haiti), Campell, Lennon, R. Sterling, G. Johnson (Jamaica), Gullut, Rijkard, Seedorf (Suriname), and even more MLS-pro’s (Piquione, Findley, DeLeon, Wallace, S. Johnson, S. Cunningham), the list goes on … personally i think some of these guys are crazy for not playing for their island’s national team! – at least not in the non-cap-tying Gold Cups

        • STX81 says:

          THe Carribean as a whole can and has develped some talented footballers historically. Here a short list:

          Dwight York – Trinidad and Tobago
          Shalrie Joseph – Grenada
          Shaka Hislop – Trinidad and Tobago
          Edgar Davids – Born in Suriname

          A lot of people from the Caribbean get recruited to play for other countries if they are good enough and eligible. (Like the NBA’s Tim Duncan who is from the US Virgin Islands but he represents USA internationally) So it not just that these countries (or territories) aren’t good enough to develop people.

          PS: Altidore is born in Jersey. De Rosario is from Toronto. Findley is from Phoenix. Defoe, Hensky, and Zamora are born in the UK. A lot other others you listed were actually born in the countries they represent.

          • Krucian says:

            Now if only we can get the USVI federation to produce the soccer equivalent of Tim Duncan!

            • yankiboy says:

              Why, so the talent can decide to rep the US?
              Just saying’ that it’s an uphill battle…

              • STX81 says:

                @yankiboy: Yes people born Puerto Rico and USVI can rep the US. Thats how it is for some Caribbean islands. And for the players, the possibility of international success can drive them away from playing for their birth nation. Similarly Canada would love to have Jonathan de Guzmán and Owen Hargreaves.

            • STX81 says:

              Yes!! VI Massive!!!

          • Matt says:

            “As the French soccer team gets ready for Italy in the finals of the 2006 World Cup, the French are grateful for the presence on the squad of eight Caribbean-born and second generation Caribbean migrant players who have made a tremendous contribution to the team’s success.

            From Guadeloupe are Lilian Thuram and Pascal Chimbonda while Florent Malouda hails from French Guiana. Thuram is the most capped player for France with 118 caps and is currently considered one of the best defenders in the world. He currently plays for Juventus F.C.

            Pascal, 27, wears the number 21 shirt for the team but is signed to the Wigan Athletic, a Premiership side. It is his first major international debut but he is able to play at either centre-back or right-back.”

            Those are the Carribean born. 2nd generation of course included players like Henry, Saha, etc.

      • Swabb says:

        Please qualify your comments Sir……..

  3. Amit says:

    Would the Puerto Rican players count as U.S. players in terms of MLS rules. I figure the rest of the players would take international slots. If the Puerto Rican players do not hold the international tag, they might be just that much more appealing to an MLS team.

    • downintexas says:

      hmm, I could see MLS making them non international slots, for a few years until this gets up and flying.

      • Mike says:

        People from U.S. territories are granted U.S. citizenship, they are therefore domestic players on MLS Roster Rules. They can choose to play for either federation, but are cap-tied like any other dual national once they play meaningful minutes.

        Examples include RSL/Puerto Rico keeper Josh Saunders and LA Galaxy/Guam defender A. J. DeLaGarza .

        • yankiboy says:

          Thing about Saunders is that after he and a few other Yanks with zippy PR blood played for PR, there was a hue and cry from some circles and the eligibility requirements were made much more stringent.

          It is unlikely that Josh will ever play for PR again. He hasn’t since that short and controversial stint.

    • Brant says:

      Don’t they field their own international squad (and their own Olympic team)? Don’t they have separate qualification routes for the CCL? I would think that based on those 2 facts, you’d lean toward them being internationals under MLS rules, but just b/c it makes sense means MLS will do it a different way.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        CCL teams from the CFU qualify through a Carribean tournament. The best three make it. Which is why the club nationalities vary year to year. Whereas US, Canada, Mexico are guaranteed national spots. PR only gets a team if someone emerges from CFU, which hasn’t occurred in the new era of expanded MLS rosters and increased reserve salaries. [And PR Islanders are actually suspended.....]

        I’d say the answer is simple. Under MLS rules a green card is enough, and under US law PR citizens are also US citizens entitled to passports. Domestic by definition.

      • Joe+G says:

        They are US citizens, so MLS can’t treat Puerto Ricans any differently than they can other US citizens or Green Card holders. Just like any employer.

        And MLS can’t really do much for the citizens of the other Caribbean countries in terms of international slots. US labor law is pretty clear on not playing favorites with other nationalities (ask the Canadians about that).

    • aletheist says:

      Per MLS roster rules, “For clubs based in the United States, a domestic player is either a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident (green card holder) or the holder of other special status (e.g., refugee or asylum status).” Citizens of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens, therefore players from there would not take international slots. I am pretty sure that this is actually a requirement of U.S. labor law, not something that MLS has the ability to change.

      • Northzax says:

        Yep. You either have a passport/green card or you don’t, that’s federal law. Which is why us teams have to count Canadians as internationals, while Canadian teams can include us players as domestics.

        • BrianK says:

          “You either have a passport/green card or you don’t, that’s federal law.” —-ah,…yes,…that matters to most of us,…..except for President Obama, who chooses to enforce only those laws that he deems to support his social,….errr should I use a AVB expression,…project.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        People forget that these sorts of peculiarities are often why player x is playing in European league y instead of other players, some of whom may be more talented. Lichaj has Polish parents, etc. Since Poland is part of the EU, one citizenship allows you to work in another EU country, so in theory he could play in Italy, France, or whatever.

        I don’t think it’s labor law so much as immigration law, we’ve felt the need to address what happens if you are born in a US territory but not a state. McCain, for example, was born in Panama Canal Zone to US parents, but that wasn’t automatic citizenship at one point. So I think we went through and did laws saying PR citizen = US citizen, which makes them as American as you or I for civic purposes, much less work. That’s one reason it’s so easy for a Boricua to move here and get work, whether playing baseball or whatever.

        • STX81 says:

          John McCain might not be the best Example b/c he was born on a US Military base (his dad was a soldier) so i think he is automatically granted citizenship because of that.

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            Being born in PR is like being born in Arizona, Utah, Hawaii, or Alaska before we made them a state. By default you are a “national” but not a “citizen.” But we have made some territories eligible for citizenship and PR is one. So you can be both a PR citizen and a US citizen with attendant implications for soccer nationality.

            The two soccer players who have finessed the line are Josh Saunders who is technically a PR international, and Chris Armas who is a US international but actually appeared for PR (it didn’t count b/c they were not FIFA yet).

            In terms of military bases, they are jurisdictional black holes. Gitmo is a useful example. Cuba calls it theirs and is the landlord but honors a lease ($4085 a year) built into a 1903 treaty by letting us be there and accepting but not cashing our lease checks (except one). The US treats it as a foreign military base beyond civilian control. In other words, places like that are US military landholding but arguably not US territory……McCain was the son and grandson of US 4 star admirals but technically got citizenship retroactively because the US did not deem the Canal Zone US territory at the time.

          • Joe+G says:

            It’s a commonly held misconception, but births on US military bases (and even embassies) are not considered to have occurred in the US. Since most of these births are the descendants of US citizens, it doesn’t matter. But if a foreign national gave birth at the hospital because of it being the closest medical facility in an emergency, that child would not be a US citizen.

    • Tweaked says:

      Puerto Ricans hold U.S. citizenship so one would think they would not take up an international slot. But this is MLS we are talking about.

  4. Kingsly Alexander says:

    Stefan Smith and Quinton Griffith I know those two were contractd to USL and NASL teams, so that’s odd

  5. Reboot says:

    For all this conversation y’all must have pretty high hopes for Joseph Marrero, Samuel Soto & Jose Sandoval.

    • Allen says:

      As a person who lives in PR, I do have high hopes for these kids. Joseph especially could be a very good player in MLS with some more coaching/experience.

      • yankiboy says:

        I have to agree that Marrerro excites me the most of the PR trio. I still think that if an MLS club decides to pick him up, he would bested served by getting some time at either NASL or USLPRO level to help develop.

  6. Amit says:

    I do not expect any of these players to be that important. However, every team can afford to fill out the last spots on its roster with players toward the minimum end of the salary range for whom that kind of money might actually be appealing compared to what could be garnered at home.

  7. JoeW says:

    Gang–Chris Armas had Puerto Rican citizenship. He played for Puerto Rico in the Pan Am games before he ever had a USNT cap.

    • yankiboy says:

      Chris played for PR because he met FIFA citizenship rules (big distinction between that and regulars citizenship (which has already been explained by other pregiously).

      Had the political situation, he could played for Cuba, as well.

      New York guy-Caribbean blood lines.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      The loophole was PR weren’t a FIFA member at the time. Kind of like playing for Catalonia or Guadeloupe or something. These days he’d be cap-tied because PR is in FIFA and attempts to qualify of their own right. I don’t know if PanAm would undercut a one time switch (in current terms) or if it’s not considered an international tourney that locks you in.

      One interesting thing Armas brings up in terms of CFU countries is whether they could benefit from an American-style effort in recruiting dual nationals. I know they already do (eg, Birchall) but you’d think they might benefit from thorough pursuit of players in Europe. But, to compare it to our situation, you need to look now and commit them now because they need to gel with the team. Some of the teams seem to have parachute players who drop in for qualis and that does not seem to help them overall.

      • yankiboy says:

        TIV: Not trying to be argumentative but you are a bit confused about the Armas situation-

        Based on info that I have (including a few people involved with the situationPR was in fact a full FIFA member; the loophole that the USSF used was that the matches Armas appeared in were NOT recognized by FIFA because they were CFU matches that were part of the Gold Cup Qualification process.

        Don’t get me wrong–I was thrilled when it worked out for Armas to represent the US–but the eligibility determination was supposedly based on the actual, specific matches and not PR’s FIFA status.

        II get extra geeky over PR soccer so I study related subjects. You never know when I’ll make it to jeopardy and I’ll be able to go to a different tax bracket after successfully answering a question from the “Soccer in Puerto Rico” category.

  8. JCSuperstar says:

    one Jamaican and none from T&T? uh, what’s the point? only those two nations really supply any credible talent to MLS … none of the rest really have with except perhaps the occasional one off exception. if this endeavour is to have any real success they need to have about 10 each from Jamaica and T&T and then sprinkle in the rest … otherwise this is kind of useless.

    • Falls City Outlaw says:

      I think a large goal of this is to break new ground/find new talent. Jamaica and T&T do produce good talent, but they also are more developed than these other nations and don’t need a combine as badly to have a development path.

      Side note: I dream of one of these smaller tropical nations making it past the first/second round of WC2018 qualifying and getting drawn in a group with our USMNT in the 3rd round. An American Outlaws away trip to St. Kitts & Nevis? Yes please.

    • STX81 says:

      Well that’s very close minded of you. Lets ignore the face that there are several decent to very good players from the Caribbean that has actually made an impact in the MLS (ie: Atiba Harris and Shalrie Joseph) or world football in general (Edgar Davids). How do you expect to find hidden gems with that kind of attitude.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Jamaica and T&T probably have the best leagues in the CFU so chasing minor leaguers and players from less prominent countries probably finds more available players. Jamaican and T&T teams probably have enough strength to extract transfer fees.

      That being said, if those are the two best leagues those are probably the two best trained sets of players, so it does arguably dilute the pool. For example, if players are in the US minors already, unless they just don’t belong there a la Osvaldo Alonso, I’m not sure what their value is to the “majors.” What happens, we draft them and loan them back whence they came?

      It all depends on the quality of this bunch.

  9. DCLee says:

    Interesting!

  10. Timothy says:

    While I think the idea of this is great, I think the reality is that this will fail due to foreign player rules. I think these players will be drafted, but then most of them will be cut, because MLS teams tend told hold players in their 8 foreign player slots to a higher standard. If MLS wants this to be a success, I would expect that they would need to grant a waiver to the foreign player rule for this and any future draft. If this means that some American players get cut, then they’d be doing a service to USL and NASL, who are expanding rapidly and will need players to fill their rosters. Continuing on a foreign player wavier, I would hope they did a Carribean and possibly an east-African combine prior to the 2015 season to offset the talent-loss due to the expansion draft for NYCFC and Orlando City. And on a random note to STX81, I would argue that Atiba Harris did not make an impact for the Rapids last season. Unless you consider headless chickens in burgundy jerseys as impact players.

    • Mueller says:

      I think their should be both CONCACAF slots and international slots. Growing soccer in the Caribbean is good for MLS and US Soccer and should be prioritized.

    • STX81 says:

      LOL. I was talking about over the course of their careers. Harris must be good enough to last in the league this long.

      Also, if the invited players are good enough they will get a roster spot. And chances are they will come cheaper than players from more establish footballing nations. Just like how EPL teams are mining american talent because their transfer fees tend to be lower.

    • Andrew says:

      I don’t think that’s necessarily true. IIRC, fewer than half of MLS teams actually filled all of their foreign player slots in 2013.

  11. BrianK says:

    Is there any downside to this effort?

    1. MLS is not a ‘rich’ league and MLS clubs need to find talent anywhere they can.

    2. This is a great opportunity for young men who love the game,…a chance to realize their dreams.

    3. If MLS is going to succeed globally,…it must be recognized as the premier league within CONCACAF. Providing opportunity to players from the Caribean and other Central American countries is the way to do that. It will attract players and supporters alike. Combining such opportunity with the professionalism of the league and the ever growing list of state of the art soccer specific stadia,…will drive the league toward that status. It won’t be long before MLS leaves the Mexican league in the dust.

    Good luck to the trialists!

    • yankiboy says:

      I love your enthusiasm but…

      In my opinion Liga MX is the premier league in CONCACAF and I don’t think that it’s global imprint is vey big outside of some parts of the Americas.

      I think that we got a long way to go before we overtake Mexico…

  12. rob therrien says:

    why are there no players from Canadian universities invited to the combine?