The soccer player Luis Javier Paradela was happy after debuting in the United Soccer League (USL) with the club Reno 1868 FC, which made him the first Cuban athlete resident on the Caribbean island to play in the professional sport of the United States without breaking ties with his country.
“It is a very beautiful experience and I felt very good the minutes I was on the pitch,”Paradela told Radio Habana Cuba radio station.
The striker was signed last August 29 by the Reno, club belonging to the MLS second division, from the Guatemala´s Universidad de San Carlos, three days after arriving in the United States with a P-1A working visa (also applicable to athletes), which allows him to play temporarily in US territory without leaving Cuba, an unprecedented fact.
Due to the laws of the US blockade, Cuban athletes are forced to leave their country in order to play in the United States.
Last November, Havana and Washington agreed that Cuban baseball players could sign in the MLB without having to leave Cuba, but on April this year the Donald Trump administration canceled the agreement.
On his first presentation, Paradela came as substitute at the 73rd minute when his club was losing 0-2 to Fresno, and they managed the tie with goals in the 87th and 90th minutes, but they rival finally won by scoring a penalty in injury time.
Paradela´s debut in the USL coincided with the 0-6 thrash that Cuba endured against Canada in Toronto, at the beginning of the CONCACAF Nations League, the fourth straight loss suffered by the Caribbean squad in the international arena without being able to score a single goal and with 23 conceded.
The player declared that he was willing to play as member of the Cuban national team in the games against the United States - on October 11 in US territory and on November 19 in Cayman Islands as local, since Cuba cannot play at Havana´s Pedro Marrero stadium-, although this will depend on whether or not the new coach, Pablo Elier Sanchez, calls him.
Parallel to his debut in the USL and the thrash received by Cuba against Canada, five players of the Caribbean side abandoned the concentration in Toronto: Andy Baquero, David Urgelles, Orlendiz Benitez, Jordan Santa Cruz and Alejandro Portal.