The Jamaican internationals played three games in seven days last week while traveling from Houston to San Francisco to Kingston, Jamaica, to Seattle and back to Houston. All told, the pair traveled more than 12,000 miles and played key roles during a mentally and physically taxing week.
“The traveling is tough, but you have to be tough mentally,” Taylor told MLSsoccer.com after training on Monday. “It’s a professional sport, and you have to be professional about it. It was tough traveling back and forth to play, but you just have to play.”
Play they did, as Watson started all three matches and Taylor started against the San Jose Earthquakes and Costa Rica, then came on as a second-half sub last Friday in Seattle. The congested schedule made life difficult for a duo on whom the Dynamo have leaned on during the first three weeks of the season.
Yet, despite the less-than-ideal timing of the midweek international fixture, there was never any real consideration given to keeping the players from joining their nation’s team.
“It’s an important year for them and Jamaica, and I asked them if they wanted to go and they both said, 'Yes,'” head coach Dominic Kinnear, who won 54 caps for the US national team himself, told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s an important time for Jamaica, and knowing the turnaround, it was unfortunate timing, but I’ll never say no if these guys want to play for their country.”
Taylor and Watson have shown they can handle the duty and through three weeks they have carved out some important roles in the rotation. Taylor has become the ultimate defensive utility man playing right back, left back and center back last week with both Houston and Jamaica.
Watson has impressed in the center of the Dynamo attack and after a one-on-one with Kinnear, he is starting to feel comfortable integrating his free-flowing style into the Dynamo attack.
“Last year was my first year in the league, and coming here, it was a different transition coming from Jamaica, where I could just dribble and do my thing,” Watson told MLSsoccer.com. “After the San Jose game, we had a meeting in the office and he said he’d give me the freedom to do what I can and I have a little more freedom and confidence and that’s my game.”
With a long 2012 ahead, the pair figures to continue to play a big role in the Dynamo’s plans.
“I think Je-Vaughn, for me, had his best performance of the season [vs. Seattle] and you don’t miss anything with Jermaine whether you put him right, left or in the middle,” Kinnear said. “We did ask a lot of those guys professionally and physically, and their being there Friday was a help.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com