Darren Mattocks, arguably the most exciting first-year player in Major League Soccer and the man considered the leading candidate for rookie of the year award this season, was yesterday named by head coach Theodore Whitmore to a Reggae Boyz squad of 24 for home-and-away encounters with the United States in Group A World Cup qualifiers at 'The Office' on Friday, September 7 and in Columbus, Ohio, four days later.
The soon to be 22-year-old made his national team debut on August 15 in a friendly international against El Salvador, coming on as second half substitute in Jamaica's 2-0 win. While he did not find the net Mattocks has an excellent record as a goal scorer, finding the target 39 times from 47 appearances for Akron University over a two-year period.
His outstanding performances saw him being drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps in January with the second overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. The skillful and speedy six-footer has not disappointed scoring seven goals in 13 games, the most for his team and the most as a rookie. He has taken the second most shots for his team and has 14 shots in all on goal for a conversion rate of 50 per cent.
Also included in the squad is the country's new central defensive pair of Reading's Adrian Mariappa and Watford's Nyron Nosworthy. Both played together at Watford before Mariappa's off-season move to the Premier League club. Both made their national debut together in a 1-0 win over Guyana at the Catherine Hall Stadium. This encounter will mark their fifth game together for the country.
Rodolph Austin, who earned the status of cult hero after just one game for Leeds United with a performance which saw him bossing the midfield breaking up tackles, spraying passes forward and testing the opposing goalkeeper with a few long-ranged shots, is also included and is expected to be the engine of the team's midfield.
The Turkey-based Luton Shelton after his double strike against El Salvador, his first goals since the Gold Cup last June, should be full of confidence and eager to extend his record as the country's leading scorer. His partnership with Ryan Johnson, the man who assisted on both of his strikes against El Salvador should also serve the team well.
However, there is no place in the team for Birmingham City's Marlon King, along with other United Kingdom-based players such as Ricardo Fuller, who only recently signed to a new club, Claude Davis, Damion Stewart, Omar Daley and Christopher Humprey.
King, highly regarded as one of the nation's best strikers, as well as Humprey, were suspended by Whitmore for breaking team rules after playing a friendly international away to Panama in late May. At the time a JFF release said the players were serving a two-game suspension.
Also missing is left sided defender Demar Phillips, who is nursing an injuy, and veteran goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. Phillips was the scorer of the opening goal in the 2-1 win against Guatemala here at 'The Office' on June 8.
Jamaica are seeking to take over the leadership of Group A as despite the fact that both teams are on four points after two games in the four-team group, they are being edged out of first place by the United States which have a superior goal difference.
The full squad: Goalkeepers -- Dwayne Miller, Duwayne Kerr, Jacomeno Barrett; Defenders -- Jermaine Taylor, Adrian Mariappa, Dicoy Williams, Andrae Campbell, Nyron Nosworthy, Shavar Thomas, Lovel Palmer, O'Brian Woodbine; Midfielders -- Rodolph Austin, Je-Vaughn Watson, Errol Stevens, Jason Morrison, Ewan Grandison, Joel Senior; Forwards -- Luton Shelton, Ryan Johnson, Kavin Bryan, Dane Richards, Omar Cummings, Tramaine Stewart, Darren Mattocks.