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By ESPN Staff

Cuba player defects during Gold Cup

Cuba's 30-year-old striker Yosniel Mesa, has defected to the U.S. during the CONCACAF Gold Cup after leaving his team's hotel in Charlotte before the 5-0 hammering by Mexico on Thursday.

Mesa climbed down a fire-escape ladder and ran to a waiting car in order to pursue a professional career in the game, which he said in an interview aired on Univision, the U.S. Spanish-language TV network, was 'not possible' in Cuba.

The player, who also claimed he had made the decision to defect before the tournament, was listed as 'injured' in the squad list for Sunday's 6-1 loss to El Salvador in Chicago, but the team made no comment after the game.

Two Cuban players defected during the 2007 Gold Cup - Lester More and Osvaldo Alonso - and coach Raul Gonzalez, who is still in charge, said at the time: "I am a man of soccer. I don't discuss politics, so I'm not going to answer that question."

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