HOUSTON – As expected, CONCACAF World Cup qualifying will have an orange tinge.
A week after Houston Dynamo Geoff Cameron left to join the USMNT, fellow defender Andre Hainault (above) and midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson have been called to join Canada and Jamaica, respectively, as they prepare to kick off their quest to qualify for Brazil 2014.
“I’m happy when these guys get called in,” Dynamo boss Dominic Kinnear said. “It’s important and I think it’s an honor and these guys want to do it, so it’s great for everybody.”
Hainault’s call comes six months after he turned down the first leg of a two-match call up to stay with the Dynamo. Subsequently, Canada head coach Stephen Hart pulled the invitation altogether, and there was some concern as to whether Hainault would be part of his plans for Canada this summer.
“I spoke with Stephen a couple of months ago to make sure things were clear and there was nothing that got misconstrued by the media or whatever,” the defender told MLSsoccer.com. “I was really happy to just get another chance.”
With any perceived hard feelings firmly in the past, Hainault can now turn his attention to helping push the Canucks to the next level as they will face the US June 3 in their centennial match and then face Cuba (June 8) and Honduras (June 12). Is this the time they finally break through and reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986?
“That’s the million-dollar question with Canada soccer,” Hainault said. “We’ve got to be good collectively and be a tight knit group. I always feel like we have a strong team. The quality’s there. It’s a matter of just putting it together.”
While Hainault is joining a Canada squad looking to strike up some momentum, Watson is riding a wave of it as he joins the Reggae Boyz for back-to-back friendlies against Panama before playing Guatemala (June 8) and Antigua & Barbuda (June 12). The midfielder is enjoying his best run of form in a Dynamo uniform, having received high marks since his Week 3 start against the Seattle Sounders.
“It started with that game in Seattle,” Kinnear said. “I thought he put in some good work and played pretty well and when given the chance he’s done pretty well. He provides some good mobility in there and that’s something you need.”
While Watson is off to join Jamaica, his Dynamo teammate and Jamaican captain Jermaine Taylor’s travel orders have yet to be booked. He must sit out the first qualifier, against Guatemala, due to his red card in the Gold Cup quarterfinal against the US, but he is still a possibility for the second match against Antigua & Barbuda.
Watson and Hainault will leave after Saturday’s match with the LA Galaxy (2:30 pm ET, NBCSN). They are slated to miss the June 10 match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.