Getting called to a national team is an honor that three Houston Dynamo players enjoyed with Monday’s Gold Cup roster announcements.
Breakout defender Andre Hainault is one of six MLS players called to represent Canada, while Jermaine Taylor and Je-Vaughn Watson are two of the eight MLS players to grace the roster of Caribbean Cup winners Jamaica for the summer regional classic.
“It’s a great feeling of pride playing for your national team,” Taylor said. “For me to be selected with all the guys that have been playing overseas is a great feeling. Je-Vaughn and I have been playing together since the youth levels, and now to have him here with the Dynamo and going to the Gold Cup is great.”
All three are likely to figure prominently for teams many are projecting to go far in the summer regional championship. For Hainault and Canada, the fun starts early with a high-profile opener against the United States on June 5 in Detroit.
“Canada vs. the U.S. is always special,” Hainault said. “That’s the big one for us, so you know that game out of all of the group games. But it can be a long tournament and could give us some momentum going into World Cup qualifying.”
And while all three found out — individually — last week that they would be playing for their country, there has been no talk about who will do better. According to Hainault, that is due in large part to the lack of Houston representation on the U.S. squad.
“There’re no U.S. guys on the team, so there’s no grief, but if there were U.S. guys, there would be more talk between them and me and the Jamaican guys,” Hainault said. “But since there isn’t, there’s no trash talk. Dom [Kinnear] is the one that throws out the jokes, but me and the Jamaicans haven’t said anything.”
Kinnear understands the meaning of a national team call-up, especially for the Gold Cup. The Houston head man — who admitted to being selfishly happy to only lose three players — converted a shootout penalty kick for the U.S. in the 1991 Gold Cup final, helping the U.S. beat Honduras to take the title in the first edition of the tournament. His experience gives him an understanding of just how important the regional championship can be for both players and their national teams.
“The Gold Cup’s a great tournament, and it’s more important because the rise of the Confederations Cup … and any time you play for your country, it’s a great experience,” the coach said of the trio that he will lose for up to four games after Saturday’s match against rival FC Dallas. “We tried to build some depth to make sure these loses are manageable. We hope they have a successful trip, but we want to get them back as soon as possible.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.