October brings the decisive round of 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying. Not the round that will decide the winner of the Caribbean Football Union’s Championship - that happens in June 2017 - but the games to determine the CFU’s 2017 Gold Cup contenders (also to be played next summer).
There are 12 teams involved in the October 2016 round of Caribbean Cup, divided into four groups of three. Four group winners advance to Gold Cup and the Championship round of Caribbean Cup. The three best second-placed teams move on to a November mini-tournament to decide which of them gets to play Central American opposition for a late Gold Cup berth.
So it is an important month for a lot of CONCACAF’s smaller nations, particularly those that find themselves in Group 3 of Caribbean Cup’s October qualifying tournament. The heavyweight teams - Jamaica, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago - are in Groups 1, 2, and 4 respectively. Ultimately, the CFU’s champion is expected to be one of those three. But one team from Group 3 will make Gold Cup and will have a shot at the Caribbean’s regional title. One team, that is, from Curacao, Puerto Rico, and Antigua and Barbuda.
Curacao is arguably the favorite. The current squad has been aggressively recruited from rosters around Europe:
Puerto Rico has named a provisional roster peppered with US-based players, including Jason Hernandez (once a MetroStar), Jeremy Hall (drafted by RBNY in 2009), and Manolo Sanchez (drafted by the Red Bulls in 2015).
Antigua and Barbuda’s squad is proving tough for Once A Metro to pin down, but we do know at least one player called up: goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky. Per the caption of a photograph used to illustrate a story in the Antigua Observer, we learn that Klenofsky is “one of 14 overseas-based players set to represent Antigua and Barbuda in the upcoming round of CFU Caribbean Cup.”
Klenofsky currently plays his soccer for Monmouth University. He is not a graduate of the RBNY Academy, but he is from New Jersey and played for the Red Bulls U-23s in PDL this summer. In July of this year, Everybody Soccer - a site focused on goalkeeper evaluations - named Klenofsky to its list of the top 24 American ‘keepers under 24. At #11, he was the top-ranked non-professional player on the list.
And if he is lucky (and has accepted the call-up), he might be an international soccer player before he turns pro.