Houston Dynamo's Zarek Valentin named to Puerto Rico squad for World Cup qualifiers

Houston Dynamo defender Zarek Valentin will join Puerto Rico ahead of a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Guyana next month. Should he earn his first cap, it would mark his switch from representing the United States at the international level.

Puerto Rico has two World Cup qualifiers in June, and Valentin will join the team for the second. The matches will wrap up the first round of Concacaf World Cup qualifying, where the top team in each of the six groups will advance to the next round. Puerto Rico currently sit five points behind first place Saint Kitts and Nevis, and will face an already-eliminated Bahamas before playing Guyana on June 1.

Valentin was a United States youth international, playing at both the U-20 and U-23 levels, and was part of the team that won the 2010 Milk Cup. The defender has been on Puerto Rico's radar since 2016 when then-coach Carlos Garcia Cantarero called him up, but he did not commit to Puerto Rico until last October.

The Pennsylvania native is eligible to represent Puerto Rico through his paternal grandmother, who was born there. The fact that he was never cap-tied by the United States cleared the way for him to represent the Caribbean island.

Valentin has started five games for the Dynamo this season and is tied for the second most interceptions on the team with eight. Valentin is also second on the team in clearances with 11 and has won possession 23 times this season.