Johan Shot CRC
USA TODAY Sports

Four Loons Called Up for International Duty

Minnesota United has had four of its players called up to represent their countries on the international stage this month. Kevin Molino (Trinidad and Tobago), Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica), Johan Venegas and Francisco Calvo (Costa Rica) will join their respective national teams for World Cup Qualifying matches and international friendlies.

Venegas and Calvo have already left Minnesota to participate in training camp with Costa Rica and will miss this weekend’s match against Sporting KC. All four players will be unavailable for the Loons’ U.S. Open Cup match against SKC on Wednesday, June 14.

Last time out with the Soca Warriors, Kevin Molino jumpstarted the island nation’s qualifying campaign with the match winner against Panama. With the win, Trinidad and Tobago is back in striking distance of booking its ticket to Russia next year. This round, Molino’s home country will have a pair of tough road matches against the United States and Costa Rica on June 8 and 13. Facing a rejuvenated USA and a dominant Costa Rican side back-to-back will show if the Soca Warriors have what it takes to make it back to the World Cup for the first time since 2006.

Taylor makes his return to the Reggae Boyz for this first time since September. Because Jamaica was eliminated from World Cup Qualifying, it will be playing a friendly against Peru on June 13. Jamaica will use this match to prepare for the Caribbean Cup later this month, as well as the Gold Cup in July. A win against this tough Peruvian team will help the Reggae Boyz as they hope for a repeat trip to the Gold Cup final.

After just one point in its last two matches, Costa Rica will try to reclaim its top spot in the CONCACAF qualifying group. Calvo, Venegas and the rest of the Ticos will play a pair of home matches, the first against Panama on June 8 and then against Trinidad and Tobago on June 13. Both matches are very winnable for the Ticos, and the June 13 match will allow MNUFC fans to see Molino take on Calvo and Venegas for the first time since joining the Loons.

The top three countries in CONCACAF at the end of this final round of World Cup qualifying will receive automatic bids for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The fourth-place team will play a two-leg series against the fifth-place team in Asian qualification for a spot in the tournament.

Back in the U.S., Minnesota United hits the road to take on Sporting Kansas City this Saturday at 4:00 p.m. CT on ESPN. The Loons return home to take on the Portland Timbers on Wednesday, June 21 at 7:00 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium. The 5-Match Flex Plan provides fans the chance to pick the matches they’re most interested in for the remainder of Minnesota United’s inaugural MLS season. Come see what all the buzz is about. 5-Match Flex Plan and other special ticket packages are available now at MNUFC.COM or by calling 763.4SOCCER.