Fans of Caribbean soccer have often lamented the lack of games for many national sides (it’s actually been discussed recently by CONCACAF big wigs) . An early exit from World Cup qualifying or the Caribbean Cup (the route to earn a spot in the Gold Cup) can often mean as much as a calendar year without an official fixture for smaller teams in the region. As part of an effort to combat that stagnation, Guyana scheduled an exhibition match against Martinique on Tuesday, March 28th. Rochester’s second-year midfielder Brandon Beresford was called in ahead of that game.
✈️— Brandon Beresford (@bberesford92) March 23, 2017
Beresford, born in California to parents of Guyanese descent, played for the U-20 and U-23 sides before becoming a regular for the senior national team late in qualification for the 2014 World Cup. The 24-year old midfielder has lined up for Rochester on the right side, in both the back line and midfield, but a more dynamic central player for Guyana.
Rochester’s head coach Bob Lilley has been accomodating to Beresford’s international career. During the 2017 USL Playoffs, Beresford joined Guyana to play a pair of matches against Suriname and Jamaica in 2017 Caribbean Cup qualification. New York’s electric forward Derrick Etienne, Jr. was called up for Haiti’s senior side in the same window but Les Grenadiers saw their matches rescheduled due to Hurricane Matthew. As a result, Etienne was on hand to put on a show against the Rhinos while Beresford was battling waterlogged pitches and the opposition with his national side.
Guyana may not have too many recognizable players, Philadelphia’s Warren Creavalle and former Tottenham youth product Sam Cox aside, but as a French Overseas Department, Martinique have the ability to call in French internationals. Former Bordeaux winger Julien Faubert and several other former French youth internationals will join Seattle Sounders midfielder Jordy Delem for matches against Barbados and Guyana.
The Golden Jaguars will not have a walk in the park but could still get a hard-fought result against Martinique. Be sure to check out Santokie Nagulendran’s piece on Creavalle’s call-up on the Brotherly Game.
Beresford joined the Rhinos on the cusp of the 2016 season and needed some time to work his way into the squad. Lilley credited the five substitutions allowed in USL until this year with the flexibility to give minutes to players on the bubble. The USL veteran coach told me a large roster with fewer substitutions means it may be harder to keep fringe players motivated and working hard in training.
“I always find it important to keep everyone ticking over because you never know. Brandon Beresford last year, we needed him big at the end of the year. And unfortunately we didn't have him for the Red Bull game but he could have helped us.”
While there have been scheduling conflicts between the Rhinos and Beresford’s commitments to his national team, there won’t be an issue for this call-up. Even though the 2017 USL season kicks off this weekend, Rochester has a bye until next weekend. This allows Beresford time to travel to Guyana and train with his teammates ahead of the game on Tuesday. He may even have a chance to make the final training session in Rochester before the Rhinos ship out to Bethlehem.
If you cannot wait until April 1 to see the Rhinos in action in USL play, look for Beresford to start for Guyana against Martinique on Tuesday evening.