By Dylan Butler
With a population of 90,000, Grenada is the smallest nation ever to qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. It would like to follow in the footsteps of one of the teams it has replaced.
Placed in Group B with heavyweights the United States and Honduras, along with Haiti, advancement to the knockout stage will be difficult. But as fellow minnow Guadeloupe proved in 2007, when the Gwada Boys shocked Honduras to advance to the semifinals before bowing to Mexico 1-0, anything is possible.
"I think a lot of people in England would be surprised by the quality of football we have down here in the Caribbean," Blackburn Rovers striker Jason Roberts told FIFA.com. "The style of play is a little bit different on the islands than it is back in the Premiership, but that's part of the challenge and part of the fun."
To qualify for its first Gold Cup, Grenada reached the Caribbean Cup final for a second time. It upset Trinidad & Tobago and recovered from a 4-0 loss to Jamaica to beat Barbados. It outlasted Cuba on penalties in the semifinals to advance to the title match, where Grenada lost to Jamaica, 2-0.
"We don't feel like losers, we feel like winners," veteran central defender Anthony Modeste said of the Caribbean final. "We did ourselves and our country proud. No one thought that Grenada would have made it so far. This little team has shown that in the Caribbean, anything is possible."
Roberts and Modeste both were chosen for manager Tommy Taylor's preliminary roster. They are joined by Delroy Facey, a 29-year-old forward for Notts County in England's Football League Two, who likely will earn his first cap. The British-Grenadian has spent12 years in England's professional leagues, playing for Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Hull City, Oldham Athletic and Gillingham among others. He led Notts County in scoring last season with nine goals.
New England Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph, a regular on the Spice Boyz roster, will miss the tournament, suffering from knee cartilage defect/bone bruising.
Grenada will have to open against a United States squad coming off a stunning run to the FIFA Confederations Cup final on July 4, American Independence Day, in Seattle.
The Spice Boyz, which played Antigua and Barbuda to a 2-2 draw in a friendly Sunday, then face Haiti at RFK Stadium in Washington, on July 8 before closing out group play against Honduras at Gillette Stadium in Boston.