A funny thing happened in the run up to tomorrow's crucial qualifier between the US and Trinidad & Tobago.
Soca Warriors Coach Dennis Lawrence, whose team depends heavily on US based players, noted that MLS was releasing players to Bruce Arena's camp a week early and asked MLS to let his guys do the same.
He was told, in effect, to go pound sand.
So on May 27, David-John Williams, the continent-sized President of the TTFA, wrote to both Don Garber and Sunil Gulati, pointing out that reciprocity for his guys - Minnesota's budding star Kevin Molino, Atlanta's Kenwyn Jones and Seattle's Joevin Jones (plus Kevan George of Jacksonville of the neoNASL) - would be the only sporting thing to do in this instance.
(The group originally included San Jose defender Cordell Cato, but he was sent home for being a jerk)
In response, US Soccer sent a letter stating that “the MLS (sic) and USSF entered into an agreement before the beginning of the MLS season in January 2017 to release their players early for the June qualifiers.”
Really. How interesting. Difficult to figure why il Bruce and the boys at Soccer House hammered out this deal and failed to mention it.
T&T feels this is tantamount to cheating or at least unsporting behavior since Williams seriously doubts that MLS would have given him the same sort of deal if he had asked. But in this case, the league gets to claim that they would have if only he'd come to them sooner.
My question is: do we really need to resort to screwing over tiny noncompetitive Caribbean island sides so that the supposedly mighty USA can win by 5 instead of only 3?
In other news, longtime Jamaica FA Supremo Horace Burrell died at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center yesterday.
Burrell was a particular Blatter favorite who, despite one shiny-pated writer's snarky comments, was not in the fried chicken business, but got caught in the Jack Warner debacle, which stunted a career arc that would almost certainly have seen him step in as head of CONCACAF and possibly more.
But mostly he is a player in maybe my all-time favorite FIFA corruption story which bears retelling just one last time:
In the 1998 FIFA Presidential election it was neck-and-neck between Sepp Blatter and Lennart Johanssen and, despite all the envelopes of cash that were being shoved under hotel room doors (courtesy of adidas) it figured to be a close thing.
In the Caribbean, Jack Warner had most of his troops in line except for Haiti's Jean-Marie Kyss, who was known as a Johanssen man.
Kyss was literally at the airport when he was informed that Haiti's Sports Minister (?) had revoked his passport. To this day there has been no explanation of this, but in any case, Kyss wasn't going anywhere.
Which is why when the time came to vote, the Haiti seat was vacant, and since FIFA rules prohibit proxy voting, it was going to remain that way.
But then, strolling up the center aisle of the hall came the very comely Miss Vincy Jalal. In her rather short, rather tight red dress and five inch heels, she stood out in the crowd of old men who were, in turn, closely admiring her - um - attributes as she settled into Haiti's spot.
Miss Jalal was Horace Burrell's girlfriend and had accompanied him to Zurich. Some people have scurrilously suggested that she was a short term rental or, as one wag put it "Mrs Burrell du jour" but I find these characterizations ungentlemanly.
In any case, as the chair called the roll of nations and got to Haiti, Miss Jalal, who had obviously been well-coached, shouted out "Oui" just as if she was in fact the gray haired older black French speaking gentleman who was supposed to respond instead of a 20-something white girl whose familiarity with French likely didn't extend much past the one word she had just uttered.
Nonetheless, everyone was too smitten, apparently, to say anything, so she then proceeded to the front of the room, cast Haitis' ballot and walked back down the aisle, straight out of the hall and into legend.
Oh heck, just one more,as long as you're buying:
Burrell had been President of the Jamaica FA for a couple terms when he signed over the local World Cup TV rights to Jack Warner, who said he could get much more money for them if everybody in the region "pooled" them. Which was probably true but what he didn't add was that he himself would be pocketing all the money.
The Jamaican board was furious (being one of the few countries where those rights were actually worth something) and replaced Burrell with a reform candidate who wanted to use the money for - get this - doing things for Jamaican soccer.
Warner was beside himself and issued all sorts of vague and not so vague threats and refused to recognize the duly elected president.
But Horace took matters in his own hands.
Owning a very successful chain of businesses, he simply went around to all of the voters (in Jamaica, all the recognized clubs elect the President, amounting to 14 or 15 entities at the time) and offered to have his stores sponsor the individual clubs. Generously.
At the next board meeting, with the writing on the wall, the new guy resigned, they re-held the election and, as Vincy Jalal would surely NOT say, "voila". Horace Burrell was once again President of the Jamaica FA, a position he held until the day he died.
So long and farewell to The Captain, Horace Burrell. We won't see your like again.