HOUSTON – As the Houston Dynamo’s Jamaican contingent prepared last week to re-enter World Cup qualifying, they had history on their mind.
Having never beaten the US, Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor and midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson are part of a Jamaican squad looking to get the full reward for the first time against the Americans. With what many feel is one of the best Jamaican squads in recent memory, the Reggae Boyz have reason for optimism heading into their home-and-home series with the US that starts Friday in Kingston (8 pm ET, beIN Sport, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“Everyone knows what this game is all about and what it means for both countries,” Taylor (above) told MLSsoccer.com. “We haven’t beaten the US in a long while now. But when all’s said and done, with the guys we have, we know it’s going to be tough but we have to take our home advantage.”
Taylor and Watson are part of a squad that includes nine MLS representatives that will face the US on Friday night as part of Group A in CONCACAF qualifying. On the other side will likely be their former teammate and current Stoke City midfielder Geoff Cameron.
While there will be some friendly hugs before the match, Taylor and Watson are eager to tangle with their former Dynamo ally when the whistle blows.
“That’s a part of the game, you have to play rough and tough,” Taylor said with a smile when asked if he’d give Cameron a little extra in the box. “Of course, definitely [I’m going give tips] and I’m sure Geoff is going to be telling his teammates, ‘Hey, Je-Vaughn likes to do this and this.’ If Geoff Cameron is one of their players, I’m going to do my portion to help my guys.”
Taylor’s last time out against the US did not offer much help. The Dynamo standout was shown a red card for a midfield tackle on Jermaine Jones in what ended up a 2-0 quarterfinal loss in last year’s Gold Cup.
A year later, Taylor is looking to “redeem himself” for that red card as help Jamaica’s World Cup cause. The Reggae Boyz currently sit alongside the US atop Group A and are looking to take full control of their destiny with results over their the Americans with two games in four days.
Beyond the two chances at three points, this is also a chance for Jamaica to make their World Cup statement in a home-and-home series with the CONCACAF bullies.
“It’s really big because it's not just about the World Cup qualifying,” Watson said. “If we go forward we’re going to match against teams like the US, even better than the US. … If we’re looking forward to going to the World Cup, we have to be able to match up well against the US. They’re a good team, a power team, so we have to get points here.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.