American football trio stay true to Jamaican roots

Thursday, April 27, 2017

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PANAMA CITY, Panama — Chris Goslin and Zyen Jones are not just buddies.The pair share many fundamental things, and so connected are the American footballers, that it would not be out of line if they are considered brothers.

Firstly, both play for the US Under-17 team competing in the ongoing World Cup-qualifying CONCACAF Championship here in Panama.

Secondly, they are both interns at US Major League Soccer's Atlanta United FC.

But thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Goslin and Jones have strong links to Jamaica.

Another player in the USA team with Jamaican connection through his mother Clar is Timothy Weah, the son of former AC Milan great, Liberian George.

In the case of midfielder Goslin, he was born on the island to Jamaican father Chris Sr and mother Donette. How more Jamaican can one be?

For Jones, he was born and raised in the USA, but his dad Kevin is a son of the soil and even played Manning Cup with Jamaica College back in the day.

So the American winger, to his benefit, has his father's Jamaican roots and his passion for the game.

For Goslin, who left Jamaica as a four-year-old boy, he told the Jamaica Observer that he found twin joy when he got introduced in the game against Jamaica, plus it was a moment of nostalgia to be matching strides with opposing players from his ancestral home.

The USA in the opening Group C match of the CONCACAF tournament had defeated the Young Reggae Boyz 5-0.

“It was nice to come into the game as we were playing against Jamaica, and I was just excited to get the chance to play and I think I played well for my team and I believe I contributed well,” Goslin said.

But even though the flexible midfielder spent most of his life so far growing up in American society, he maintains his 'Jamaican-ness'.

“It's a lot different as the American kids get grounded, but my parents are stricter as the rules are different as I had to be home by a certain time, the grades had to be a certain way, so all of that helped me to be the person I am today,” Goslin shared.

With regards to food, the 16-year-old can't get enough of the national dish of his country of birth.

“I always go for ackee and saltfish, but at times I will have some jerk chicken, but my go-to is always ackee and saltfish,” Goslin said with a smile.

The Atlanta United FC youth player believes that being in a professional environment is crucial to the development of young players and pointed to himself as a testament of that.

“It's important as I get to play in practice against first-team guys everyday, and they are teaching me a lot as they have taken me under their wings and I am just soaking it all in,” noted Goslin.

Even though a part of him is undeniably linked to Jamaica, his choice to represent his adopted home was a no-brainer.

“The argument came up, but I believe my dad wanted me to play for the US because I lived in the US longer, plus the opportunity to play came from the US first,” Goslin said.

Jones, also 16, did not play on Sunday, but said he will champion the cause of the team in whichever way he can.

“For me, my goal is to be there to support my team and whenever I have the chance to play, I aim to come in and do my best to help my team with a chance to get to the World Cup,” he shared.

Jones said his Jamaican-born father Kevin has not only been the single most influential figure in his football quest, but life in general.

“My father is the reason why I am here today and he is the biggest influence on me and I look up to him very much,” said the US winger.

Even though he was not born on the island, Jones has made many trips back home to connect with his ancestral home. But at home in Atlanta, the Jamaican culture is a pulsating beat.

“I stay close to the Jamaican music, I speak in my Jamaican patois, and generally I carry myself like a Jamaican. With the food, it has to be some jerk chicken or oxtails with rice and peas,” he ended.

— Sean Williams

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