CARSON, Calif. – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s clearly the philosophy that Houston Dynamo manager Dominic Kinnear is using after his defender, Jermaine Taylor, confirmed on Saturday that he would be in the starting XI against the LA Galaxy at MLS Cup 2011 on Sunday (9 pm ET on ESPN, Galavision, TSN2; live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“Yeah, I’m on the starting team for tomorrow,” Taylor said in response to a question by a Jamaican reporter after practice at The Home Depot Center on Saturday afternoon.
The 26-year-old defender was a 39th-minute substitute in the Eastern Conference Championship against Sporting Kansas City after star midfielder Brad Davis went down with a quad injury. Filling in at left back, he contributed to the eventual game-winning goal and held his own under Sporting’s second-half attacking barrage.
And his pronouncement on Saturday will not come as a surprise after he trained at left back in the lead-up to Sunday’s title decider.
The Jamaican international says he is a naturally right-footed player and guessed that he has only played at left back five times in his entire career.
“I’m comfortable playing anywhere in the back,” Taylor said. “I would rather play in the middle of the field, but it’s a coach’s decision to put me wherever. I know I can do it, so I’m just going to do it.”
In his sector of the field, he will engage in a one-on-one duel against the all-time leading scorer in US national team history, Landon Donovan.
“I’ve played against him before,” said a confident Taylor. “I know his speed and everything. I think I can match his speed. Technically, I know he’s good on the ball. You can’t give that guy space to play. You have to be physical. He doesn’t like a physical game. But I’m saying, for me, I think matching up against Landon Donovan is going to be good for me.”
It’s a confident Taylor heading into MLS Cup 2011. Confident in his matchup with Donovan. Confident enough to reveal he is starting the match.
“It’s a big event and it’s just time for me to step up another gear and be ready for the moment,” he said. “Simple, calm, composed, hard-tackling, hard player on the field and look forward to a very good game for me.”