BRENT LATHAM - Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The U-17 roster is out and everyone seems to be focusing on the names not on the list rather than those that will be making the trip to Nigeria.
The missing players are Charles Renken, Joseph Gyau, and Sebastian Lletget.
As detailed earlier in the week on YA, coach Cabrera has made it clear that players not included were left off for one of three reasons: 1. injured, 2. not good enough, 3. didn't want to come. Each of the situations would appear to be applicable to one of those three players.
One case is easy enough to get to the bottom of: Renken has yet to fully recover from a serious knee injury sustained while playing with the team this spring, and is thus ruled out.
Those of Gyau and Lletget are clearly more difficult situations. When I spoke to coach Cabrera, long before the roster was actually announced, he made it clear that the only non-residency player to be included would be Will Packwood. (A lot of people seem to think Luis Gil has moved to Arsenal but it seems he is still in residency, a move may come soon - more details on this forthcoming.) Thus both players seem to have failed the physical presence test, one which is clearly important to Cabrera.
While Gyau is rumored to have had a falling out with Cabrera, I have no evidence to support that claim as yet, and at this point it looks like Gyau, who was used rather sparingly in qualifying, simply became, in Cabrera's mind, surplus to requirements given the emergence of other forward options like Victor Chavez and Andrew Craven. So situation #2, not good enough, might apply here- again at least in the coach's mind.
As for Lletget, here's where we open an ugly can of worms. We're doing our best to get the player's side, but at this point it would appear that Lletget was unwilling to leave West Ham to participate in the pre-World Cup camp, and that was a deal breaker for Cabrera. So here we have case #3, didn't want to come.
Again this is just speculation, but that attitude would seem to fit with Lletget's comments earlier this year about focusing on his professional development. There's another clue in Lletget's telling May interview with Noah Davis at Goal, in which he reveals that he would eagerly trade in his American jersey if a higher profile team (his parents are reportedly Argentine and he has Italian ancestry) came calling.
While Lletget may or may not have retracted that statement since, my two cents would be that Cabrera made the right call. Until the kid straightens out his national allegiance, why not give the spot - a valuable developmental tool and an investment on the part of the USSF, to a kid who really wants it? The last thing Bradenton or the U-17 needs to become is a shop window for foreign federations.
I'll be meeting up with the team in Kano in a few days, and I'll do my best to get further towards the bottom of this situation. In the meantime my inclination is to give Cabrera the benefit of the doubt, and wait to see how he fares with what is still a very talented team.
Check for updates on twitter @yanksabroad and @brentjavan.