November 29, 2012
Reggae Boyz Dynamo for Houston
GORDON WILLIAMS, Star Writer
A hugely successful Major League Soccer franchise has credited Reggae Boyz among the keys for the club's run to the MLS Cup final two years in a row and signaled its intent to ramp up the search for more Jamaican football talent.
Dominic Kinnear, head coach of Houston Dynamo, which play the final on Saturday - fourth in seven years - praised the contribution of internationals Jermaine Taylor and Je-Vaughn Watson since they joined the club in 2011.
"They've been a good part of the team last year and this year," Kinnear said recently.
The duo's efforts have enhanced Jamaica's reputation as an emerging hotbed for recruiting players to North America's top league.
"I think the Jamaican players have a lot to offer," said Kinnear listing Boyz playing MLS, including Omar Cummings, Dane Richards, ex-Dynamo Lovel Palmer and Donovan Ricketts, plus former star Onandi Lowe.
"I have a strong opinion of the Jamaican player. I think A - he's a good athlete. B - he has a good attitude, C - willing to learn and improve every day, and D - I think they have a good base and good skill."
Taylor, who will start at centre half on Saturday, has been a Houston cornerstone.
"If he's not our best defender, he's definitely one of the best defenders for us this year," Kinnear said. "Good player. Strong. Good on the ball. Very calm. Good in the air. Physical. Fast. He's been excellent."
Watson, like Taylor, appeared in the 2011 final. He has not played in this season's play-offs, but the midfielder's response has impressed Houston.
"Towards the end of the year (Watson) hasn't seen the amount of minutes that I'm sure he wants," explained Kinnear.
"One thing I can say about Je-Vaughn is he's kept his head up. He's worked hard. He's kept a smile on his face. He has a good attitude and he's a positive in the locker room."
More than a dozen players eligible to represent Jamaica were on MLS rosters in 2012. According to Kinnear, the talent and approach of Taylor, Watson and others will boost Jamaican influx.
"They're pretty technical and exciting players," he explained. "Jamaicans have made a good impression in MLS and I think there's more Jamaicans to come here and do well."
Taylor impressed Houston at Caribbean Cup 2010. The club plans to scout next month's tournament.
"It could be a chance for us to go down (and get) some more Jamaican players," Kinnear said. "I saw some real good Jamaican players in that tournament and I think it is a good idea for MLS to go down there and check it out."
Houston's Boyz have played major roles in Jamaica's 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. Watson, 29, played 19 MLS games, starting 13. He has no goals or assists. The 27-year-old Taylor started all but one of 30 MLS games he's appeared in, scoring once and recording an assist. His approach, too, has endeared him to Houston.