|According to a report on ESPN.com, Yisel Rodriguez and Yezenia Gallardo asked for political asylum after making their way to the U.S. border over the weekend. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)
Two soccer players who disappeared while competing for Cuba at the CONCACAF women's Olympic soccer qualifying tournament in Vancouver have, in fact, defected to the U.S.
According to a report on ESPN.com, Yisel Rodriguez and Yezenia Gallardo asked for political asylum after making their way to the U.S. border over the weekend.
"It's very hard," Rodriguez told ESPN.com. "But I know it's going to be worth it because this country has a lot of opportunities. My goal is to keep going with soccer and someday go to the Olympics as a U.S. player"
Both players have been reunited with family in the U.S., Rodriguez in Miami and Gallardo in Houston. Rodriguez hadn't seen her brother, Raudel, in 16 years.
"You can't imagine what it was like," he said. "She was 6 when I left Cuba. We were both hugging and crying. It's unexplainable, really."
Before Rodriguez and Gallardo, the most recent Cuban soccer player to defect was Yosniel Mesa, who bolted during the Gold Cup tournament in June 2011.