HOUSTON – Many predicted that Jermaine Taylor would be a important signing when he came to the Houston Dynamo from Jamaica’s St. George’s SC before the 2011 season. Few, however, would have predicted the position where he has had the most success after a year in MLS.
GOAL: Taylor starts off successful attack
Taylor, Jamaica’s captain and a staple in the middle of their defense, was expected to make a splash at center back. In a twist of fate, though, the biggest opportunity for the Reggae Boyz skipper to make an impact has been at left back, helping fill the void created by injured playmaker Brad Davis’ absence and facing new responsibilities along the way.
“At left back, it’s a little different,” Taylor told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s training. “When you’re in the center half position, you have to stay back more and protect your ‘keeper. Playing out left, I have a guy who can step in for me if I go forward and I can do the same for him, so there’s more freedom to go forward and cross a ball and get into the attack.”
The versatile defender has capitalized on his newfound freedom to get forward. As opposed to when he is playing center back and has to provide cover for goalkeeper Tally Hall, when on the left, the physical Taylor gets to show off his feel for the ball while making overlapping runs into the final third.
His best moment this season came against the Chicago Fire when he played a first-time ball into Will Bruin that started the sequence that produced Houston’s only goal in a 1-1 draw. That play showed that Taylor’s calmness and composure on the ball is a weapon on Houston’s left side.
“We encourage him to get forward because he puts in a good ball and no one’s going to bump him off the ball because he’s so strong,” center back Geoff Cameron said. “Jermaine’s an international player, he’s got good feet and he’s strong. Him getting forward allows Corey [Ashe], or whoever’s on the outside mid, to come inside and allows him to make those overlapping runs.”
Taylor’s strong play at left back is no surprise to his teammates, who knew what others are just finding out; the Jamaican skipper has talent. Even if it's at a position he is still getting used to.
“I have to tell myself I’m a left back because it’s important to think like a left back and not a center half,” Taylor said. “I just tell myself that when I get my chance that I have to get my frame of mind that this is the position I’m playing and I’m going to go out there and do my best.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.