When the Houston Dynamo return to MLS action Sunday against the Vancouver Whitecaps, they will be, as expected, without stalwart Jermaine Taylor on the backline.
The virtuoso defender has been called into action by Jamaica and will take part in the nation’s second World Cup qualifier on June 12 against Antigua and Barbuda, making it four Dynamo casualties – three from the defense – to the opening of the CONCACAF tournament.
“The preparation the last two years has been good and I’m looking forward to it,” Taylor told MLSsoccer.com about World Cup qualifying. “All the guys are experienced and the guys that are going to be in the qualifiers are good.”
Taylor left after starting in Houston’s 2-1 friendly loss to Valencia on May 31 to join fellow Dynamo midfielder and countryman Je-Vaughn Watson – who started and went 86 minutes for the Reggae Boyz in a 2-1 loss to Panama this past Saturday. They are part of a quartet of MLSers that will try and get always hopeful Jamaica off to a good start towards qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1998.
While Watson has been with Jamaica since May 26, Taylor had a longer wait due to his suspension from a red-card tackle on Jermaine Jones in last year’s Gold Cup quarterfinal loss. According to FIFA rules, a red card in an official competition carries over.
Now finally in the Jamaican camp, Taylor is looking to take what he has learned during his time abroad with the Dynamo and implement it with his country. It is something he feels that many of his teammates, 16 of whom ply their trade outside of Jamaica, can do to help the Jamaican World Cup cause.
“I’m not running it down, [the Jamaican Premier League] is good, but there’s not a lot of competition or experienced guys so the more you can get out and play against tougher players it helps,” Taylor said of the benefits of playing abroad. “Being that way, you’re going to match against these players and it builds you. I think we’re going to qualify this time.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.