Featured Matches
Previous
Real Salt Lake
Montreal Impact
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
AC Milan
Olympiakos
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vélez Sarsfield
Estudiantes de Caseros
10:15 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Groningen
Aberdeen
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
Sligo
Rosenborg
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 4
Game Details
Stjarnan
Motherwell
3
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 4
Game Details
Shakhter Karagandy
FK Atlantas
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
Shakhter Karagandy
FK Atlantas
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
Hapoel Be'er Sheva
RNK Split
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
MyPa
Dinamo Minsk
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Omonia Nicosia
FK Buducnost Podgorica
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
Haugesund
FK Sarajevo
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 3
Game Details
Kuban Krasnodar
Sillamae Kalev
5
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 9 - 0
Game Details
Inter Baku
Elfsborg
(3) 0
(4) 1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
IFK Goteborg
Györi ETO FC
0
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 1
Game Details
Lech Poznan
Kalju
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 1
Game Details
Liberec
MFK Kosice
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 4 - 0
Game Details
Tromso
Víkingur Gøta
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
KS Flamurtari Vlorë
Petrolul Ploiesti
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 5
Game Details
SV Grödig Amateure
Cukaricki Belgrade
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 2
Game Details
Chikhura Sachkhere
Bursaspor
(4) 0
(1) 0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
AIK Solna
Linfield
2
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Zimbru Chisinau
CSKA Sofia
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 1
Game Details
Shakhter Soligorsk
Derry City
5
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 6 - 1
Game Details
FC Vaduz
Ruch Chorzow
0
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 3
Game Details
Esbjerg FB
Kairat Almaty
1
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
FC Spartak Trnava
FC Zestafoni
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 0
Game Details
FC Groningen
Aberdeen
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
FC Zorya Luhansk
Laci
2
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 1
Game Details
Hapoel Tel Aviv
Astana 1964
1
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 3
Game Details
Sligo
Rosenborg
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 4
Game Details
Zawisa Bydgoszcz
S.V. Zulte Waregem
1
3
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 5
Game Details
Vojvodina
AS Trencin
3
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 4
Game Details
Asteras Tripolis
RoPS
4
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 3
Game Details
Hajduk Split
Dundalk
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
ND Gorica
Molde
1
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 5
Game Details
Jagodina
CFR Cluj-Napoca
0
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
NK Koper
Neftchi Baku PFC
0
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 3
Game Details
Ferencvaros
Rijeka
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 3
Game Details
Siroki Brijeg
Mlada Boleslav
0
4
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 6
Game Details
Diosgyor VTK
PFC Litex Lovech
1
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
Crusaders
Brommapojkarna
1
1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 5
Game Details
St Johnstone
FC Luzern
(5) 1
(4) 1
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 2
Game Details
St. Pölten
Botev Plovdiv
2
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 2
Game Details
FH Hafnarfjordur
Neman Grodno
2
0
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 3 - 1
Game Details
Stjarnan
Motherwell
3
2
FT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 5 - 4
Game Details
Real Salt Lake
Montreal Impact
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Vélez Sarsfield
Estudiantes de Caseros
10:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Sport
Paysandu SC
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 1 - 2
Game Details
AC Milan
Olympiakos
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next
 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 16, 2009

Cuban defectors feel at home with Miami FC

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- In the circle of players wearing blue jerseys, Nos. 13 and No. 23 pass the ball and blend in, but six months ago they defected from Cuba.

Pedro Faife and Reinier Alcantara just signed with Miami FC -- a minor league soccer team in a country 90 miles and a world away from Cuba.

"The liberty we don't have in Cuba we can have it playing here," Alcantara said. "I'm proud to be here with him."

Miami FC signed Faife and Alcantara last weekend following the former players' defection before a World Cup qualifying game. Though the pair of look-alikes with their shaved heads planned their escapes separately, both ended up on the same team and with the same eventual goal: to play in Major League Soccer.

The "wet foot, dry foot" U.S. policy allows Cubans touching American soil to remain and apply for residency after a year.

The Cuban Soccer Association declined to comment on the athletes, said the group's general secretary Antonio Garces. Faife, 25, ditched his team from a hotel in Washington, D.C., when he said he was going to the bathroom, but drove off with his aunt. Alcantara made a similar escape.

"In Cuba I didn't sleep because I was thinking only of that. That moment," said Faife, who left behind a wife and 3-year-old son. He said part of the "pleasure" in joining this team is because it's where the Cuban community lives. Alcantara, who left behind his parents and siblings, said he feels at home in South Florida.

The team opens its season Saturday against the Cleveland City Stars, but general manager Luiz Muzzi said Faife and Alcantara won't play until they get international clearance from the United States Soccer Federation, which needs paperwork from Cuba. About five other teammates are waiting out the same process. Miami FC is one of 11 teams in the United Soccer League's First Division, the first tier below Major League Soccer in the U.S.

On the field in Lockhart Stadium, Alcantara is usually no more than a couple pairs of shuffling cleats away from Faife. Alcantara said the team has come together quickly and it feels like they've been playing together much longer.

"They're Cuban, they're Hispanics and they're happy people that motivate us a lot," said returning player Diego Serna. "And the reasons we know they left Cuba and all the history motivates us to help them, too."

Faife said dissatisfaction with his country and his coach on Cuba's team made him want to stay in the U.S. He'd flirted with the idea of escape since 2007 when his father's heart and liver grew weak, and he figured he could do more for his family working in the U.S. He reasoned it would be a better life for him.

And, he said, it has been.

"I came here to do my best, whether it was sports or I started other work," Faife said. "Thank God I found this team."

If his Cuban players get more fans in the bleachers, then all for the better, said Coach Crizam Cezar de Oliveira Filho, known as Zinho. He said he expects that to happen, but he signed them because they trained hard and are disciplined players.

"Hopefully they keep playing like they are in practice," Zinho said. "And the aficionados will come."

Fernando Clavijo, director of soccer for Traffic Sports USA, owner of Miami FC, agrees. It's the way they handle a ball and not the diversity they bring to the team that is most important.

"You know what it is? A different flavor," Clavijo said. "They're very disciplined, very hard workers, skillful players."

At practice Thursday, a teammate shouts, "Dale Cuba" or "Go Cuba," as midfielder Faife goes for the ball.

Faife taps it, passes it. This is his new team. His new home.

"The team loves us very much...," Faife said. "Cubans, we have good character."

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.