Oakland Roots announced on Friday that they have signed international Haitian striker Miche-Naider Chéry.
Chéry turned 26-years-old last week (happy birthday), coming from Violette A.C. of Port-au-Price in Haiti’s top-division, Ligue Haïtienne. He’s most known for leading Le Vieux Tigre to a 3-2 aggregate win over Austin FC in the 2023 CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16–where he scored twice in Violette’s 3-0 win back in March.
Followers of the Haitian National Team were upset about him not being included in recent fixtures, viewing him as potentially the most lethal goal-scorer for the island nation. So how does a man the size of an NBA small forward go unnoticed?
Ligue Haïtienne’s infrastructure may have something to do with it. The league plays in a two-stage season with separate champions in both seasons called the Ouverture (opening) and Clôture (closing). In 2019, the league only played the opening season before canceling the second half due to civil unrest.
2020 was then cancelled due to the global pandemic before he helped lead Violette to the Ligue Haïtienne title in 2021. The latter half of 2021 was abandoned and the league hasn’t continued ever since due to the ongoing crisis in Haiti. Violette’s home game against Austin, in fact, was played in the Dominican Republic and it was their only match on the schedule in a 10 month span.
Violette’s 2021 title qualified them for the 2022 Caribbean Club Championship, which they won in penalty kicks to qualify for Champions League, representing all of the Caribbean.
Chéry has actually been in Oakland for some time waiting for his visa to process. Visa processing has been an issue for athletes coming out of Haiti, even on a short-term basis. Back in March, Violette A.C. only brought 14 total players to their second matchup against Austin FC, where 12 players who dressed in the first leg were unable to make the trip–five of them were previous starters.
Now at 26-years-old, Chéry and countless athletes from Haiti lost nearly four years of development due to the ongoing situation in his home nation. Now coming to Oakland, Miche-Naider has a prime opportunity to make a name for himself and prove he’s more than a one-hit wonder. Hopefully there’s a chip on his shoulder.
Pointing out the obvious, he’s tall. He would’ve been the tallest player on last year’s team by a good margin, even outsizing Danny Barbir. With his size, Roots staff view him as an answer in finding an aerial threat.
Against Austin FC, Chéry scored both of his club’s goals by way of a header, defeating sloppy one-on-one marking on both occasions. He nearly bagged Violette’s third goal with another header, but it was saved before an Austin FC defender fired the ball into his own net for an own goal.
One team source would like him to put on a bit more weight, which would help him continue producing as a target man. But what about his other intangibles?
In a video from May, Chéry scored all of Haiti United FC’s goals in a 6-4 win over the NY Renegades FC in a UPSL match. Obviously, he’s not playing against good quality in the UPSL, but he shows some intangibles in the video below.
He gets a shot off after taking hard contact in his first goal then rifles in a penalty kick in the next highlight. His third goal at 53 seconds provides some of his best film, where he sprints past two defenders to take a left-footed shot.
Chéry’s fourth goal in the video is a rocket of a shot, where he takes a couple of dribbles into the area unmarked and sends in a right-footed shot that would’ve exploded the goal keeper’s hand. His fifth goal was similar, where he dummied a ball past the defender and wheeled into the area to send another right-footed blast. His sixth goal was on a breakaway, where his shot took a deflection off the keeper.
It’s hard to say if Chéry instantly slots into the starting striker role given Johnny Rodriguez is coming off a 12 goal season, but competition is clear for the start of the season.