Los Angeles: A member of Cuba's beleaguered CONCACAF (The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Gold Cup squad has defected to the United States, coach Raul Mederos said on Tuesday. Speaking in Denver, Mederos confirmed that midfielder Yasmani Lopez had left the squad after the Cubans were thrashed 7-0 by Mexico in their opening game of the tournament in Pasadena, California on Saturday.
"The rest of the delegation had nothing to do with it, it is entirely his decision," Mederos told a press conference. Cuba face Martinique in Denver on Wednesday in their second game of the tournament.
Lopez, 31, is one of Cuba's most experienced players, making his debut in a Gold Cup clash against Belize in 2013. The midfielder who has also played defence has been capped 28 times, scoring a single goal and has participated in five Gold Cup games.
Athletes from communist Cuba participating in sports events in the United States and Canada have a long history of defecting. In 2015, several members of Cuba's Gold Cup squad defected during the tournament, despite thawing relations between the then administration of President Barack Obama and Havana.