On Thursday, Major League Soccer announced a new partnership with the Caribbean Football Union, who will host a new Caribbean Player Combine in Antigua in January. The idea is to help unearth some great young talent from the islands, particularly the smaller islands who don't get the exposure that the powerhouses like Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Cuba get.
It got us thinking about some of the best players in MLS history who hail from the smallest islands in the Caribbean. Here's our top 5.
1. Shalrie Joseph (Grenada) – A four-time MLS Best XI selection, Joseph joined MLS in 2003 and is today considered by many to be one of the top players in league history. He is currently with the Seattle Sounders but made his name as the midfield centrifuge for the New England Revolution in thei mid-2000s heyday, helping them to the 2007 US Open Cup, the 2008 SuperLiga title, and three consecutive MLS Cup finals appearances from 2005-07.
2. Ezra Hendrickson (St. Vincent & Grenadines) – Tall and gangly, "EZ" didn't look like your typical soccer player, but he was more than effective. He was a winner. The only three-time MLS Cup champion from the Caribbean, Hendrickson lifted the trophy with the LA Galaxy (2002), D.C. United (2004), and the Columbus Crew (2008). Over his 11-year career, he made 266 regular-season appearances and finished with 23 goals and 30 assists to his name. He is currently an assistant coach with the Seattle Sounders.
3. Atiba Harris (St. Kitts & Nevis) – Injuries have limited the talented attacker's contributions over the years, but he has still made 167 regular-season appearances for five clubs since 2006. Currently with the Colorado Rapids, Harris first signed with Real Salt Lake and has also had stints with Chivas USA, FC Dallas, and the Vancouver Whitecaps. His best season so far came in 2010 when he had four goals and two assist in 29 games for FCD. He also had a goal and three assists in the playoffs as the club reached its first-ever MLS Cup final.
4. Peguero Jean Philippe (Haiti) – The 6-foot-2 forward wasn't in MLS for long – just 61 regular-season appearances from 2004-08 with the Colorado Rapids, New York Red Bulls, and San Jose Earthquakes – but he was a good finisher. He scored 20 goals in his time, including six in 12 games for the Red Bulls in 2006. But knee injuries limited his abilities, and his career declined quickly after he transfered to Danish club Brondby in 2006.
5. Khano Smith (Bermuda) – One of the most maddening and thrilling players in MLS history, Smith was tall and fast and possessed a left foot capable of put a cross right in the mixer or into the 20th row. He had a short stint with the Red Bulls, but made his biggest impact with the New England Revolution, for whom he made more than 100 appearances. His best season came in 2007, when he had two goals and six assists in 29 games, helping the Revs to the US Open Cup title and an MLS Cup final appearance.
Did we miss anyone? Tell us what you think in the comments below.