April 27, 2012
Boyd's big break - National striker signs for Charleston Battery
GORDON WILLIAMS, Star Writer
After several failed attempts, national player Navion Boyd has finally secured a contract to play professional football overseas.
The skilful attacking player, who recently scored for Jamaica in a friendly international against New Zealand, has landed a six-month loan deal with United States-based Charleston Battery of United Soccer Leagues (USL), the second tier professional competition in North America, below Major League Soccer (MLS).
Boyd, who played for Tivoli Gardens in the 2011/12 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), scoring seven goals, left Jamaica on Tuesday for the US. He, along with Tivoli teammate Dane Kelly, who enters his second loan spell at Charleston, is expected to be available to play for the club immediately.
According to Boyd, he hopes to eventually compete in a higher league, but is willing to use the USL experience to market his abilities on a larger stage.
"I'm not really disappointed (not being signed by a bigger club)," said Boyd.
"It (USL) is not something as big yet, but you still can use it as a stepping stone to go forward. So I'm still somewhat happy It's not (just) the teams in the MLS (I hope to attract), but a wider screen, so people as far as maybe Europe or wherever can actually see you."
boost his chance
He also hopes to stay competitive for a place in Jamaica's national team with World Cup qualifiers beginning in June. With the RSPL almost over, Boyd will be able to retain match condition at Charleston. Playing professionally outside Jamaica, he believes, will boost his chance to stick with the Reggae Boyz.
"It would be better (than just staying in Jamaica)," said Boyd.
"I think that I'm actually outside of the country now, I think they're having their eyes on me and, what with the local league, it's about two games left now. So they'll actually keep their eyes on the players outside the country. So I think it's a good chance for me."
But he now has to prove himself in a different atmosphere. Kelly, a forward who scored six goals for Charleston last season, believes Boyd will be a success in USL. His speed and skill will make him a tough assignment for defenders.
"He will get by them easy," said Kelly, who anticipates Boyd will get a warm reception in the US state of South Carolina.
Kelly said the USL is played at a faster pace than RSPL, but is less physical, which should suit Boyd. He also stressed that Boyd should be comfortable on and off the field since he has a familiar face in his corner. He hopes to benefit from the attacking partnership as well.
Boyd expects to play as a central striker or winger at Charleston.
The striker is eager to capitalise on the professional opportunity in USL after unsuccessful tryouts with top clubs in Finland and North America over the past few years, including Houston Dynamo and Portland Timbers of MLS.
"It feels good knowing that something finally happened," he said.
"It's a start, so I'll just use it to better myself and hopefully I can get the job done."
That would mean scoring goals, according to Kelly, which would keep Boyd in the national picture. He has seen the list of 14 overseas-based players called up for Jamaica's next international. However, Boyd believes local-based players will have a fair shot at making the national team for the World Cup qualifiers, especially because, he said, head coach Theodore Whitmore has given his assurance that selection will be based performance, not reputation or club affiliation.
"This is something that the coach (Whitmore) has said - no one really has a spot," explained Boyd, who did not try out for Charleston, but was scouted by the club while he played in the RSPL. "It's up to every man to come and show what they can do."