Houston Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor is playing well at left back in Corey Ashe's absence

Though usually in center defense, Taylor is flourishing out wide

On first inspection, Houston Dynamo defenders Corey Ashe and Jermaine Taylor may not look like similar players. Ashe is short and blazingly fast. Taylor is wide-shouldered and physical.

But they have demonstrated this season that quality two-way play at left back comes in all shapes and sizes.

With Ashe away with the US national team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Dynamo’s 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union last weekend showed that while the package may be different, Taylor’s capable of delivering the same results.

In Saturday’s win, Taylor was not shy about joining the attack on the left side, looking to work with Andrew Driver to pressure the Union’s right flank. The result was a game-winning assist to Ricardo Clark that showed Taylor has much more to his game than usually meets the eye.

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“Maybe most of the people don’t expect a left back like me to go up in terms of the attack,” the Jamaican international said. “I’m capable of doing it so it’s just a matter of getting the chance to get up there and doing whatever I need to do offensively and defensively.”

Added center back partner Bobby Boswell; “It doesn’t surprise me because I think he’s a good player. I’ve been fortunate to have some great defenders around me in my career and I think he’s one of them.”

Taylor’s left back performance should not surprise. After all, three of his five career assists are as a fullback, two from left back, as well as it being his usual position for the Jamaican national team.

However, Taylor’s regular position is considered to be center back, the position he was signed to play upon arrival in 2011 and primarily plays for the Dynamo. But after a foot injury slowed his initial time in Houston, he took a back seat to the likes of Boswell, Andre Hainault and now-Stoke City man Geoff Cameron.

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Looking for time on the pitch, Taylor found it on the flanks and showed quickly that his versatility should not be underrated just because of his build.

“I think last year, through need, we played him at a lot of different positions and he showed how valuable and flexible he was,” head coach Dominic Kinnear said. “When needed he’s been asked to play different positions and doesn’t say a word, just goes about his business and does very well.”

With Ashe likely away for another two games it’s reasonable to assume Taylor’s home for the immediate future will be on the left. While it’s not his “home,” having a player that can adapt is something the Dynamo are happy to have.

“I know he likes to play in the middle, he considers himself a center back and not an outside back, but he fills in when the job’s needed,” Boswell said. “He’s a great defender and a lot of fun to play with.”

Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.