Trinidad and Tobago could very well see a record-breaking number of players plying their trades in foreign leagues more than ever in this country's entire history.
Gone are the days when T&T had to rely on one or two foreign based players to beef up their team. Currently, T&T has over 30 players playing abroad and could see that number spike greatly in 2017.
Players are now able to play in more competitive leagues, get advance training, be around a more professional environment and earn a decent living especially with the dwindle in financial support from the government towards local football and a cash-strapped Professional league where prize monies are just a promise.
Most T&T Club teams are operating on a minus deficit with probably the exclusion of W Connection who happens to be one of the more immovable clubs in this country. W Connection youth system is second to none and one of the reasons why the club has been able to meet its budgetary demands. They are the leading team that export players that is not only helping the youths of the future but keeping the club buoyant.
Let's take a look at some of T&T's future stars who are on the verge of signing for foreign teams while some have already gone on greener pastures.
Midfielder Duane Muckette is on trial with MLS club, New York Red Bulls. Muckette last played for Portuguese club FC Barreirense in the 2016 season, a club that plays in the third division is the feeder for FC Benfica.
The FC Santa Rosa product started his season in Portugal with some encouraging performances for the club, scoring a breathtaking goal against FC Almancilense from half-field, the goal was so picturesque that it enticed some of the top teams in Portugal and earn praise from football pundits, but nothing never materialised and now Muckette has seemed to have lost his place on the team and is currently back on the market.
National U-20 defender Keston Julien scarification of his T&T Under 20 career has finally paid off as the talented left-back has joined Slovak Super Liga club, AS Trenčín. He will wear the #3 jersey. AS Trenčín is a former club of T&T's speedy-winger Lester Peltier who left a lasting impression that probably helped paved the way for young defender Julien and future T&T players.
As a result of Julien signing, the former San Juan Jabloteh defender lost his position on the national under 20 team that is currently participating in the FIFA Youth World Cup qualifiers in Costa Rica. His void at San Juan Jabloteh has left the Club reshuffling its defence. Jabloteh will be partaking in the CFU qualifiers and Julien's position will be filled by Jamaican-born defender Keithy Simpson which was loaned out by Club Sando.
Julien would be remembered for his fine solo-goal against Guatemala for T&T's national under 20 team in a 4-1 defeat in 2015. SWO wishes the former Presentation College, W Connection and San Juan Jabloteh player all the best.
Defender Weslie John, 25, is training with Belarussian Premier League club, FC Isloch Minsk Raion. John last played for C.D. Universidad de El Salvador and have been capped twice by T&T national senior men's team under former coach Stephen Hart.
The former Point Fortin Civic, Police FC and Central FC defender is the nephew of talented left-back Avery John and hopes to follow in his uncle's footsteps by cementing a place on the T&T national senior team.
Nicholas Dillon has signed with Second Division club, K.Patro Maasmechelen. His Central FC teammate, Nathaniel Garcia, the brother of T&T's youngest super-star Levi, is expected to join him shortly at the Belgian club. Dillon is described by his coach as; big, fast, powerful and has been T&T's Under 20s most lethal weapon to-date. Another one of Central F.C.'s talented young players, Tobago-born Mickaeel Jem Gordon has departed to U.S. to take up trials with Charlotte Independence as well.
The former 1976 FC Phoenix striker impressed Walsall FC's manager Dean Smith during a tour to T&T which was organised by Central FC. Gordon was given a chance to shine and was handed a chance to run out with Walsall FC and he did not disappoint, the young striker put in a MVP performance against a Pro League XI winning the match 3-2 before rounding out its Trinidad and Tobago tour with a 3-1 win over National Super League team Stokely Vale FC in 2013 in which Gordon netted.
Gordon were hapless not to have signed for the “Saddlers” instead he were snapped up by W Connection before moving on the Central FC where he became a regular, he were one of the Club's goalscorers in the last year's CONCACAF Champion League, Gordon netted the Club's only goal against MLS Sporting Kansas City in a 3-1 defeat at the Children’s Mercy Park.
Akeem Roach has embarked on a trial with United Soccer League team Charleston Battery, the current club of T&T's Neveal Hackshaw and Ataullah Guerra.
Roach, finished the 2016/17 Pro League season with top honours being the league's leading goalscorer with 12-goals, is said to be scouted by MLS teams Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire as well.
The twenty-one year old Club Sando attacker has already played 2 games for his country, his début against Nicaragua last December and the other against Suriname last month.
Seven months after being released by Guatemalan club Antigua GFC after spending two months with the club, Dwane James signs with Salvadoran Primera División club, CD Pasaquina late January.
W Connection right-wing back and the brother of national and Seattle Sounders FC star Joevin, Alvin Jones is currently on pre-season training with Minnesota United, the Club of T&T's Kevin Molino, the talented midfielder recently signed up with them for their upcoming 2017 inaugural MLS season.
Alvin Jones club team-mate Aikim Andrews is also said to be on the move, the talented winger-man headed out to join Toronto FC for pre season in California and Florida. Andrews netted a remarkable goal for T&T against Nicaragua last December has already represented his country at senior level 4-times and is said to be one of the top youngsters in the country. Another T&T player is also on the Toronto FC II books in former SSFL MVP and Central FC's striker Ricardo John.
Toronto recently released Triston Hodge who signed with the club in January for the remainder after a unsuccessful trial with Houston Dynamo, however, the W Connection left-back failed to hold down a permanent spot and has since returned to his parent club. Hodge then shifted his focus in securing a deal in Central America with Costa Rican Primera División club C.S. Cartaginés.
W Connection has been busy in the transfer market trying to export some of their top young players to foreign leagues. Jomal Williams and Shahdon Winchester migration to Murciélagos FC has been very successful, the duo is having some of the best games of their foreign career and as a results it may have opened the eyes to foreign scouts looking for another Caribbean gem.
Now, W Connection youth Jabari Mitchell, captain of the National U-20 team had joined 2016 Apertura Champions Tigres UANL of the Mexican First Division Liga MX on a ten day trial last month, Jelani Peters, also of W Connection headed to Toronto FC and Isaiah Hudson, another 'Savonetta Boys' product is currently in Wales for pre-season training with Vancouver Whitecaps is looking to follow in Williams and Winchester's foot-steeps. Hudson, by the way, is one of 3 T&T players dropped from the current T&T Under 20 team head coach Brian Williams for disciplinary reasons. The two others are Tyrel Emmanuel and Quinn Rodney.
After a short-spell with Guatemalan club Deportivo Malacateco mainly because of the club reluctance to pay his transfer fee to W Connection, Jerrel Britto has gone on to Segunda División de México with Murciélagos FC II, spent 7-months before returning home where he had a short stint with Central FC and then joined new club Ma Pau Stars where he racked up 9 Pro League goals before finally securing a 2-year contract with CD Honduras Progreso. Britto has already scored for his new club.
Two other T&T players making waves since signing with new Clubs are former Point Fortin Civic and W Connection striker Shackiel Henry and former San Juan Jabloteh striker Willis Plaza respectively. In early January, Henry headed to Vietnam with Sông Lam Nghệ An after scoring 5-goal for W Connection and Plaza to India with East Bengal in late December, Plaza left Jabloteh with 6-goals to his name.
The pair has been literally racking up goals in every game and picked up where they left-off in T&T, Both have already banged in 5 apiece.
There was also good news for the talented Jonathan Glenn after an indifferent start to the season with Finnish club Breiðablik leaving the striker on the breadline for quite sometime last season. Glenn signed earlier this month with NASL club, Jacksonville Armada FC and is eager to make his mark once more in the game with hopes to capture the eye of T&T's new head coach Dennis Lawrence.
Glenn, happens to be one of T&T most mobile strikers in recent times and will definitely give coach Lawrence something to think about because currently T&T has been seeing a lack of goals from its strikers and if Glenn regain his magic we once saw coach Lawrence will be all smiles. Not to mention, Glenn style of play, his speed and his physical structure is somewhat welcoming news all round. Jacksonville already has Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevan George on their roster.
Former T&T nationals Anthony Wolfe, Densill Theobald and Darryl Roberts, despite being over 30, is still paying the bills through football. Wolfe and Theobald racked up a season-long contract in India with I-League campaigners Churchill Brothers and Mumbai FC respectively and Roberts to Phillipines club, Global FC.
Ben Waldrum, son of the infamous Randy Waldrum, came tantalizing close to qualifying T&T's women senior team to its first ever World Cup is still doing wonders for T&T Women football. Ben and Randy share duties as the head coaches for FC Dallas Women (Houston Dash).
The club entered its inaugural season of competition in the WPSL (Women's Premier Soccer League) in 2016 is looking to beef things up for the 2017 season and added 3 T&T women players. Rhea Belgrave, Karyn Forbes and Victoria Swift. The trio will compete in the 2017 WPSL season and will more than likely run into top striker Kennya Cordner who's contracted to OSA FC.
Karyn's sister Kimika Forbes is really the star of the show though when she became the first ever T&T player in both men and women category to ever win the Copa Libertadores. The talented shot-stopper helped her team Club Sportivo Limpeño to the prestigious award in December 2016. This is the first time the Paraguayan Club qualified for the Copa Libertadores and the first time any female team from Paraguay has won this auspicious South American Tournament, which is popularly claimed by Brazilian Clubs.
Kimika performance for her Paraguay Club caught the eye of many and a month later she secured a new deal with Colombian top flight football club Independiente Santa Fe.
The only missing piece of the puzzle is left unknown. Where does T&T Under 20 English-born and former Stevenage FC midfielder Morgan Bruce-de-Rouche really play? According to an official TTFA report, it did mentioned that he plays for English team Queens Park Rangers, however, his name is nowhere to be found on the Club's website. Hopefully, something would eventually turn up.
With Shannon Gomez and Keron Cummings now back from long-terms injuries. While, Nathan Lewis, Jamille Boatswain, Tyrone Charles, Noah Powder and Akeem Roach seemed to be on the verge of stamping their names on the international circuit and now this potential exodus of T&T players to foreign leagues, T&T's future at the international scene looks very positive.