After recording four goals and three assists for Indy Eleven this season, Douglas Martinez Jr. has received his first call-up by Honduras in three years for this weekend's Cocacaf Nations League Quarterfinals. | Photo courtesy Trevor Ruszkowski / Indy Ele
The 2023 USL Championship season wrapped up on Sunday night as Phoenix Rising FC claimed its first league title, but this weekend will see numerous USL Championship players in action for their countries in the Concacaf Nations League and international exhibitions.
Ahead of the action kicking off on Thursday night, here are four storylines you should have on your radar.
San Antonio FC's Shannon Gomez is part of the Trinidad and Tobago squad that will face the United States in the Quarterfinals of the Concacaf Nations League this weekend. | Photo courtesy Darren Abate / San Antonio FC
Trinidad and Tobago upset the odds thanks to some key contributions from USL Championship and League One players in advancing to the Quarterfinals of the Concacaf Nations League – the Soca Warriors were ranked 102nd in the world at the end of the summer, below fellow group members El Salvador (75) and Curacao (88).
Now, however, they get the monumental task of taking on the United States in a home-and-home series that kicks off on Thursday night with a place in the 2024 Copa America at stake. The USMNT took a 6-0 win when these teams last met in the summer at the Concacaf Gold Cup, an indicator of how big this challenge will be for Trinidad and Tobago’s squad.
Among the players to watch for the underdogs are Miami FC’s Ryan Telfer, who had one goal and two assists in the group stage, Oakland Roots SC’s Neveal Hackshaw, who has played a key role in central midfield for his country, and San Antonio FC’s Shannon Gomez, who will likely be one of the players tasked with trying to keep the U.S. attack in check. It’s a big opportunity for the players to show they’re better than this summer’s performance, and to try and maintain some positive momentum coming out of the past two international windows.
It’s been three years since Douglas Martinez Jr. received his last call-up for Honduras, but after a positive end to the USL Championship campaign with Indy Eleven he’s back with the group for their home-and-home series with Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League Quarterfinals that kicks off on Friday night.
The 26-year-old had four goals, three assists and 26 chances created for the Boys in Blue after an early-season transfer from Sacramento Republic FC, and his speed could help Honduras stretch the field if needed against El Tri’s back line. With one goal in four prior appearances for Los Catrachos, it will be interesting to see if he can make the most of his opportunity to get back into the national team mix more regularly.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC's Romario Williams bagged his second goal for Jamaica last month after a standout season at Weidner Field in 2023. | Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Jamaica rolled through the group stage of Concacaf Nations League A undefeated to finish on top of Group B with 10 points. Now it will be aiming to continue that upswing in the CNL Quarterfinals against a Canada side that in recent months has seen its fair share of turmoil. Former Head Coach John Herdman has moved on to Toronto FC, while the side lost 4-1 to Japan last month after being eliminated in a penalty shootout by the United States in the Gold Cup Quarterfinals in the summer.
Among the options in the front line for the Reggae Boyz is Romario Williams, who is coming off equaling his career-best with 15 goals for Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the Championship this season. The 29-year-old also scored his first goal for Jamaica since the 2017 Gold Cup last month in a 4-1 win against Greneda. Joined by goalkeepers Jahmali Waite (Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC) and Amal Knight (Lexington SC) in the squad, Williams could be a scoring option off the bench as the side looks to book its place at the 2024 Copa America with victory in the home-and-home series.
Newly-signed El Paso Locomotive FC forward Amando Moreno is coming off a fine individual season for New Mexico United in the Championship with 10 goals and five assists that helped push United into the postseason. That form hasn’t quite replicated itself since he returned to El Salvador’s ranks in recent months, however, with the 28-year-old failing to find the net despite having bright moments in three starts for the side.
After La Selecta’s poor CNL run in the past two windows that saw the side relegated to League B for the next edition of the tournament, its upcoming two friendlies against Curacao that kick off on Thursday night will be a chance for the side to reset. Moreno – who is joined by fellow call-ups Bryan Tamacas of Oakland Roots SC and Walmer Martinez of Monterey Bay F.C. – will be eager to show he’s part of the solution moving forward, and hopefully bag his first goal for the side.