Last Thursday, FCC announced that two players will take part in the African Cup of Nations qualifying matches scheduled for early September. Midfielder Mike Lahoud and defender Pa Konate will each travel abroad, and represent Sierra Leone and Guinea respectively. The international matches will be played on September 9th, and the pair will miss FCC’s next match against Louisville City at Slugger Field.
— Michael Lahoud (@MikeLahoud) September 3, 2018
The 32nd edition of the African Cup of Nations will be held in June 2019 in Cameroon. Qualification for the tournament is now underway and extends over 5 match days held between June of 2017 to March of 2019. The upcoming September fixtures represent Matchday 2 of the qualification process. Lahoud’s Sierra Leone won its first match over Kenya. Guinea also won its opening match against the Ivory Coast, an African powerhouse. If these two players continue to be selected at the international level, they will play again in October and November of 2018, and March of 2019.
FC Cincinnati actually has three other players besides Lahoud and Konate with appearances at the full international level. Let’s take a look at the players who have grabbed the opportunity to play for their native land.
Need an experienced international defender to captain your squad, and contribute goals in big games, like Saturday’s equalizer against Pittsburgh? Look no further than Dekel Keinan.
Keinan is the most decorated international player on FC Cincinnati’s roster. After extensive time with the Israeli national team at the U-21 and U-23 level, he received 27 total senior caps. The native of Rosh HaNikra was a regular in defense for Israel over a six year period from 2008 to 2013. He made notable contributions during the 2010 and 2014 World Cup qualifying campaigns. Israel, unfortunately, did not qualify for the World Cup finals in either cycle.
Justin Hoyte played extensively for the England at the U-16 through the U-21 levels, making 58 appearances. The native of Leytonstone in the East London suburbs, he had ambitions to play for the senior national team. It wasn’t to be though, and in 2013, he made himself available to play for Trinidad and Tobago, where his father Les was born. He earned 18 caps for the Soca Warriors over a four year period and appeared in friendlies, the Gold Cup, and the early stages of the 2018 World Cup qualifying.
Emery Welshman was born in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, a suburb of Toronto. His parent are Guyanese though, and he is therefore eligible to play for their national team. He earned his first cap in 2015 and has made 5 appearances thereafter for the Golden Jaguars. He scored for Guyana in a friendly against Barbados, and also netted in a World Cup qualifier against St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Experience Just Below the Senior Level
While the five referenced above advanced to appear for the senior national team, several others have represented their country at levels just below. Fatai Alashe made several appearances for the United States U-23 squad during qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He even got a call-up to the senior national team for the 2016 January camp under Jürgen Klinsmann. Unfortunately, an injury cut Alashe’s experience short, and he withdrew from the subsequent friendlies.
Fanendo Adi made two appearances with the U-23 Nigerian team in 2011. He was also called-up to the senior team for an African Cup of Nations qualifier in 2017, but didn’t get into the match. Sem De Wit made a single appearance with the Netherlands U-18 team in a match against Austria in 2012. Goalkeepers Spencer Richey and Even Newton also represented the United States at the U-17 level. Spencer Richey went with the U.S. to the 2009 U-17 World Cup in Nigeria.
With the build-out of next year’s MLS roster, FC Cincinnati will add even more experienced international talent to the squad. They might even sign players in the mix for the U.S. Mens National Team. The prospects are exciting, but there’s a trade-off of course. The MLS and international calendars don’t always complement each other well. Alan Koch and Luke Sassano will will have to manage these players time away from the club, just like they have to now for Konate and Lahoud. Senior level internationals come with prestige, but they also come with commitments that must be considered when building a roster deep enough to compete successfully in America’s top flight.
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of FC Cincinnati’s 2018 season.