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USA v. Cuba, 2016 Friendly: Scouting Cuba

The U.S. will have little information about the Cuban National Team

Soccer: CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying-Canada at Cuba Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Typically, the United States Men’s National Team has a good idea of what to expect against its opponents. However, when playing Cuba the U.S. won't have a great idea about what to expect.

Baseball is the most popular sport in Cuba and soccer is a distant second. Although soccer's popularity in Cuba is increasing, the sport is still very underfunded.

Cuba has struggled against the USMNT, with an all-time record of 1-1-9. Los Leones del Caribe are in bad form with just one win in their last five matches. The Cubans haven't played since they defeated French Guinea 3-0, on March 29th.

Cuba (26-man provisional roster)

Goalkeepers (4): Sandy Sanchez (LTU), Diosvelis Guerra (ART), Delvis Lumpuy (VCL), Geandri Megret (GTM)

Defenders (10): Daniel Alarco (LHA), Dayron Blanco (LTU), Yaisniel Napoles (CMG), Carlos Domingo Francisco (SCU), David Urgelles (GTM), Yasmani Lopez (CAV), Erick Rizo (SCU), Yosel Piedra (VCL), Eugenio Palmero (SSP), Andy Baquero (LHA)

Midfielders (7): Daniel Luis Saez (LHA), Alberto Gomez (GTM), Roberto Peraza (LHA), Arichell Hernández (VCL), Eddy Saname (LHA), Osmany Capote (VCL), Roberney Caballero (VCL)

Forwards (5): Duxney Espinosa (CMG), Eddy Gelkis Olivares (SCU), Maykel Reyes (Cruz Azul Hidalgo/Mexico), Yoelvis Gonzalez (VCL), Yasnai Rivero (LHA)

The Cuban National Team is composed almost entirely of domestic players, with only Maykel Reyes, and Abel Martínez playing abroad. The Cuban league is very weak and as a result the national team tends to struggle. Little is known about the team as it is difficult to find videos or information online about it.

The Cubans will be led by star forward Maykel Reyes who features for Mexican side Cruz Azul’s reserve team: Cruz Azul Premier. Cruz Azul Premier plays in the third division of Mexican soccer. Reyes has good pace and is an excellent finisher when inside the eighteen.

Projected Cuban Lineup:

Look for Cuban coach Raul Mederos to deploy a defensive formation, either a 5-4-1 or 4-5-1. The U.S. should dominate possession and create many scoring chances. The Cubans need to be well-organized defensively and will look to catch the U.S. on the counter.

Cuba has several very athletic players, but the Cubans lack the tactical knowledge and technical skill of the Americans. Defensively, Cuba will be led by 28-year-old veteran center-backs Yasmani Lopez and Yaisniel Napoles. Lopez and Napoles may struggle in the air as both are approximately 5'9''.

Cuba's star midfielder is #10 Arichell Hernandez. Hernandez is a dangerous creative midfielder whose passing could cause problems for the U.S. defense. According to, Hernández probably won't play as a midfielder and is likely to end up playing as a false 9 .

Cuba is expected to struggle and should be satisfied if it can keep the score close.