Battery midfielder Sebastian Thuriere took to the international stage last month, competing for the Haitian national team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. His team ultimately lost in the quarterfinals to Jamaica, 1-0, but he was able to earn significant playing time, coming off the bench to play against the United States and Honduras.
It was a whirlwind trip — between camps and games, the team visited eight cities in a month. Thuriere rejoined the Battery in time to hit the road again, going to Toronto and Rochester last week. He has played as a central midfielder for Charleston since joining in January, and he plays the same position for Haiti.
Thuriere came to Charleston after playing on two USL teams that stopped fielding a team in the league. He played for VSI Tampa Bay FC in 2013 before they folded. Then he joined the Dayton Dutch Lions for the 2014 season, but they decided to drop down to the PDL after last season.
But he found a stable situation in Charleston when he came down in January for the pre-season trials.
“An organization like Charleston was on top of the list for me because of its stability, and every other team gets excited when they come to play here. It’s a beautiful stadium and a beautiful city,” Thuriere said.
Thuriere, the son of a French father and a Haitian mother, grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was raised speaking English and French, and played four years of collegiate soccer at the University of South Florida. But before that, he played youth soccer around the state. One of the players he would play against might be familiar to you — Jozy Altidore. Altidore, the USMNT forward and Toronto FC player, was born in New Jersey but grew up in Florida. Like Thuriere, he is of Haitian descent.
I was able to talk with Thuriere about his Gold Cup experience, as well as how it’s been playing in Charleston.
Q: You had nine caps before the Gold Cup began. When was your first call-up?
A: The first one was last September when we were preparing for the Caribbean Cup. We had a 12-day camp in Miami and my first cap was against Chile.
I had been in contact with them for a few years, and they recently got a new coach who was looking for players of Haitian descent who play outside of Haiti. There were a lot of guys from France who are Haitian, and a lot playing in the U.S. and other leagues.
I ended up doing well in the camp and got solid 45 minutes in against Chile.
Q: What was it like playing in the Gold Cup?
A: It was definitely the highest competition I’ve been a part of. To experience that, everybody that plays professional soccer in this region wants to play in it. I’m just grateful to get the opportunity to play. Everything about it is super professional and it’s always a great honor to represent your country.
We were put in the group of death so it was great to get out of that. We definitely had a good run.
NOTE: Haiti was grouped with the U.S., Honduras and Panama. Based on FIFA rankings from July 9th, the U.S. was the highest-ranked CONCACAF team while Panama was the fourth. Honduras, at 80th in the world, was one spot behind Haiti.
Q: What about playing against the U.S., after growing up here and playing against a couple of those players in the Carolina Challenge Cup?
When we were watching the draw, I was hoping to get the U.S. in our group. That was the game I wanted to get and I wanted to play in. Growing up in the U.S. and seeing a lot of the players, and since it’s always in the U.S. the games are sold out and we knew it was going to be the biggest game for us.
The game was in Boston. There is a large Haitian community up there so we had a big group of fans there too.
Q: What do you think of the season so far, and what do bring to a team when you’re out there playing?
A: This is definitely the most successful USL team I’ve been a part of so far. Not saying the other teams were bad, but being able to stay up this high in the league for this long has been good.
I bring experience. I’ve been playing in the league for a while. I’m not the flashiest player but I like to be efficient.
Q: Do you have a favorite team that you root for, or a favorite player you had growing up?
A: I’ve been a PSG and Arsenal fan for a long time. I don’t really have a team that I support, I’d rather just watch a great game. That’s just the way I am. Internationally, I’ve always been a big supporter of France and Zidane.
Follow Thuriere on Twitter @SebaT13
Top photo: Sebastian Thuriere returns to practice after playing on the Haitian national team during the Gold Cup. Credit: Charleston Battery.