Cuba’s Reyes sparkles on international stage

Maykel Reyes (#9) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in Cuba's draw with Panama in a CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship match on October 1, 2015. (Photo: Mexsport)

KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Cuba under-23 standout Maykel Reyes is developing quite a reputation and deserves all the plaudits coming his way. 

After all, if the forward is on the field in an international competition, he's bound to score…in any way possible. 

In Friday’s CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship opener against Panama, he struck – or, should we say the ball struck him – to give the Lions of the Caribbean a 1-0 lead in a game that would end tied. The unusual goal came in the sixth minute, when an attempted clearance by Panama goalkeeper Elieser Powell ricocheted off Reyes and into the net. 

“I think the goalkeeper made a mistake with the clearance,” said Reyes. “It was lucky that it hit me in the foot and entered the net. It is always good to be winning at the start in order to be relaxed in the match.” 

It wasn’t the first time that the 22-year-old found the back of the net in a CONCACAF/FIFA competition. 

Here’s quick rundown of some of Reyes’ goalscoring exploits: 

- Notched team-high seven goals in Caribbean qualifying for 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship

- Netted only goal as Cuba secured a place in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals with a 1-0 win v Guatemala

- Scored in a 2-1 loss v Korea Republic in 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup

- Struck for three goals in 2013 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, helping Cuba qualify for 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup 

Why does Reyes excel on the international platform? 

He gives all the credit to his team and preparation. 

“I think that in this team we now have been together for three years,” Reyes commented. “Yes, I’ve had a good performance with this team. My first international tournament (with the senior national team) was the Gold Cup and I had the chance to score and I know that it got my team to the next round. 

“It has to do with the dedication in training, which is what we have in this team and now we are heading for the next game to keep on trying.” 

Cuba returns to the Sporting Park pitch on Friday against a United States side that would be wise to take note of Reyes’ talents.