Friday, June 14, 2024

Concacaf Nations League’s hidden gems: Panama’s Adalberto Carrasquilla, Jamaica’s Damion Lowe and more

Concacaf Nations League is in full swing as not only do teams have a chance at one trophy but some also are able to qualify for the 2024 edition of Copa America via the tournament. Six Concacaf nations will qualify for the Copa America as the four teams to make the semifinals of League A will qualify and then the four quarterfinal losers will play in a playoff for the last two spots. It’s quite an opportunity for Concacaf sides to test themselves against different opposition but it’s an opportunity for the players as well.

While some players in Concacaf are playing in European leagues, the vast majority are in various domestic leagues looking for their big break. Due to that, scouting competitions like the Nations League can be critical to unearthing the next global gems. Let’s take a look at who some of those who are could soon be at bigger clubs and doing big things.

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Adalberto Carrasquilla (Houston Dynamo/Panama)

Carrasquilla is someone who toes the line of being hidden as he has taken Panama and Houston to cup finals and trophies but since I get to make the rules, he still fits. Excellent when pressing and able to turn defense into attack with ease, it’s easy to see why teams with Carrasquilla in their midfields are able to punch above their weight. Not a big scorer or assister, he has still been involved in eight goals in all competitions showing that he’s no stranger to making plays in the attacking third. With another strong tournament, that could be enough to earn a move to a top five league.

Juninho Bacuna (Birmingham City/Curacao)

A team that has been using their Dutch roots to recruit over the past few years while Guus Hiddink was their technical director, Bacuna was one of the jewels of that process for Curacao. With Premier League experience during his time at Huddersfield Town, Bacuna is a midfielder who is always involved. His only season with fewer than five goal contributions in England was Huddersfield’s Premier League campaign but Bacuna has been consistent for club and country. As Concacaf improves, he may be able to even lead the next generation as Curacao’s talent level improves as well.

Sheraldo Becker (Union Berlin/Suriname)

Again maybe not a hidden name, Becker likely isn’t someone who is associated with Suriname when the forward is thought of. Coming off of a season where he scored 11 goals and assisted six more, Becker was able to become the point forward for the German club leading to Jordan Pefok moving to Borussia Monchengladbach. Another consistent performer, Becker could be talented enough to pull this Suriname side to some shock performances over the next few years.

Damion Lowe (Philadelphia Union/Jamaica) 

Jamaicia’s English recruits in attack have been getting the limelight and for good reason but the defense has also improved by leaps and bounds and a large part of that has been Lowe’s play at center back. A mobile defender, Lowe is someone who can be stuck on a team’s best forward and he has the pace and size to keep up with and contend with any forward in Concacaf. It is also play that has translated to the Philadelphia Union where he has given Jim Curtin the flexibility to employ a back three at times.

Patrick Burner (Nimes/Martinique)

One of the stars of the Gold Cup, Burner was able to score three goals during Martinique’s campaign. The former Nice man has yet to really make his mark in France but among a squad of Ligue 2 squad members making Martinique tick, it could put him in line for a move before long. Currently playing in the National League with Nimes, Burner will have a chance to lead the team to a playoff place or potential promotion back to Ligue 2. He has two goals so far and more success with the national team can help his club form.

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