KINGSTON, Jamaica – Much has been made of US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann's proclivity for identifying and importing German-reared players of American background like current squad members Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, Terrence Boyd and Danny Williams.
Jamaica, the USA's adversaries in World Cup qualifying here on Friday (9:30 pm ET, beIN Sport), seem to have stolen a page from Klinsmann's playbook.
The Reggae Boyz handed new recruit Daniel Gordon his World Cup qualifying debut against Mexico on Tuesday, marking a unique ancestral homecoming for the tall defender (above left, marking Mexico's Aldo de Nigris), who was born and raised in Dortmund to a German mother and English father of Jamaican descent.
Gordon's father Gary grew up in London, then joined the British Army when his pro football career didn't pan out. That took him to Cold-War-era West Germany in the late 1970s, where he turned heads while playing at the amateur level and eventually married and settled in Dortmund.
When his oldest son Andre began playing youth soccer in the Borussia Dortmund system some 20 years ago, Gary helped out during a training session and eventually worked his way into the club's youth coaching ranks, where he continues to work on developing teenage talent for the 2013 UEFA Champions League finalists.
Daniel, 28 (at right, No. 2), is the second of Gary's three sons. He spent his younger years in the BVB system and now plays for Karlsruher SC, who just won promotion to the 2.Bundesliga from the third division.
Jamaica coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore and his staff learned of Gordon's island heritage and pursued him for some time, finally securing his services for their current round of Hexagonal qualifiers. He's one of several overseas-based players targeted by Whitmore over the past year as part of an effort to boost the talent pool at his disposal, a process which has drawn criticism in some quarters by Jamaican fans who believe that it devalues homegrown talent.
"I have been to Jamaica once, years ago, my family moved to the States and England, so I have never been close, and I don't know a lot about Jamaica, but now [that] I have the chance I want to get to know Jamaica,” Gordon told the Jamaica Observer last month. “But first of all I am here to play football and to be successful with the team.”
An imposing presence at 6-foot-4, Gordon logged a full 90 minutes at center back against Mexico, but could do nothing about de Nigris' game-winning header in the 48th minute after he was dragged out of position by Carlos Salcido's endline run past right back Alvas Powell. Gordon was otherwise effective, looking strong in the air and tidy with the ball at his feet, but not necessarily fleet of foot.
Though Whitmore is expected to make significant changes to his starting 11 against the US, a number of injuries to other center backs means that Gordon is likely to anchor the Reggae Boyz defense against the Yanks on Friday.