There is no risk of players from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico defecting. Puerto Rico has a much different relationship with the United States of America than Cuba. While Cuba places a premium on Independence, Puerto Rico seems to prefer perks, such as 55 plane tickets to the Democratic Party Convention in Denver, Colorado, as reward for their island's pliancy.
Given such arrangements, it may be a surprise for many to learn that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a full member of FIFA. Even those in the know can be forgiven for forgetting. Puerto Rican fixtures have been a rarity. The island's federation even managed to avoid friendlies for most of 2006 and 2007.
This changed with the appointment of Colin Clark, the former Southampton and North of Ireland international. Clark arrived in Puerto Rico in 2007 to manage the USL's Puerto Rico Islanders and created a buzz when he led the team into the league's playoffs, with crowds beginning to rival those normally found at Puerto Rican baseball games. This success led to his appointment as dual coach of the USL franchise outfit and the "national" side.
In Clark's first month in charge Puerto Rico have beaten Bermuda, twice, and held Trinidad and Tobago to a 2-2 draw. The Trinis have some player politic problems of late, but the result suggests Puerto Rico will be competitive against the Dominican Republican in their upcoming World Cup qualifier, and may cause problems for Honduras, should they advance.
The Irishman's success has in part been based on his judicious use of players with Puerto Rican heritage and others with connections to the island, as well those who have given up on Sam's Army and whose US passport entitles them to turn out for Puerto Rico. Clark has instilled hope in the team. "We are just now developing our team," said USA-born forward Chris Megaloudis, who opened the scoring against Trinidad. "It takes time and a lot of hard work but our dream is to play in the World Cup and with the right amount of work I am sure we can do it."
Clarke has also shown a dedication to developing the game at the grassroots, "As an island the objective is to continue to grow and be structured right," said Clark, when interviewed by FIFA. "It is important the national side is in the right shape and the good talent doesn't have to leave the island to play."
I wonder what Alberto Memmitito would have to say about the progress of football on the oldest colony on the planet. Can a World Cup run help Puerto Ricans achieve and enjoy their natural right to true autonomy, freedom and independence?