A former member of the Cuban national team, Jorge Luis Corrales, talks about his time here in the United States, the loss of Cuban American star Jose Fernandez, and how special it was for Cuba to host the USMNT.
Last week, the USMNT defeated host Cuba’s national side 2-0. It was another positive event in the thawing, long, contentious history between the two countries. Jorge Luis Corrales has experienced life and soccer in both countries, arriving in the United States in 2015. The former Cuban national team defender makes his living in the NASL, with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. I was able to speak with him about the importance of soccer, his Cuban pride, and becoming an American.
*Translated from Spanish*
Question: How exciting was it to see the United States national team go to Cuba to play a friendly?
Jorge Luis Corrales: I think it’s important to a player to defend their country. Also, to play for their team, especially when its against the US, who has many star payers and so much experience. On top of that, there is all the political aspects between the two countries
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Q: A great countryman of yours passed away recently, Marlins superstar Jose Fernandez. How important was he to the Cuban American people?
Corrales: I think he was one of the leaders of the Cuban game in the United States with a grand future. He always liked playing with passion, and dedication to the team, and his country.
Q: Who are some other Cuban athletes you follow outside of soccer?
Corrales: Well, I think that every Cuban who is daring enough to make the decision to take another path, to later follow on with their future in the sporting aspect, is worthy to follow.
Q: As far as another Cuban athlete in soccer, Ariel Martinez. How fun is he to play with, and against?
Corrales: To me, Ariel is one of the best Cuban players of current times. He’s taught me so much, and he’s given me plenty of advice. He’s helped me with so much, and now playing against him is a challenge because he’s such an excellent player, and you never know what he’ll do when he has the ball at his feet.
Q: What has been the biggest difference between soccer in Cuba and in the United States?
Corrales: I think that there is much more physical demand at this level. There are players with many qualities, and plenty of experience. The soccer is much more dynamic and aggressive.
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Q: What are your long term goals in soccer?
Corrales: I have one goal. I just want to get to the maximum level here in the US, MLS, and show what a Cuban player can do. I wanna reach my dream of being a great player.
Q: What songs, or singers, have to be on your pre-match playlist?
Corrales: I listen to my favorite band, Blink-182. Or I like to watch the Cristinito Hernandez show, if not, just listen to Cuban reggeton.
Q: What is one Cuban food Americans need to try?
Corrales: A good rice with beans, a little fried pork, avocado and a good mamey shake! *laughs*
Q: How is your progress on becoming an American citizen?
Corrales: Good! On October 10th, it became a year of me being here in the United states. And, God willing, I will be able to obtain my residency as soon as possible, as for my citizenship. I won’t be able to get it until 5 years from now, but if you set your mind to something, you obtain it slowly but surely.
Q: As is the case when a Presidential election gets closer, Americans seem to divide and forget what our country is all about. As a young man who chose to immigrate to this great nation, what does America mean to you?
Corrales: I think America represents: great people, happiness, hard work, determination, history, culture, mystery and very beautiful women.