Sport

Elder statesman Watson ready to lead by example

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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LOS ANGELES, California — Je-Vaughn Watson is not used to being on the bench in the Reggae Boyz outfit.

But such is the nature of the sport that no man is able to outlast Father Time, and Watson is slowly but surely beginning to accept that fact of life.

A veteran of the Reggae Boyz unit for the past decade, Watson, 36 in October, was an integral member of the unit which went to the last two Gold Cup finals. But of late he has been watching from the sidelines and giving friendly assistance whenever he can from afar.

But Reggae Boyz Head Coach Theodore Whitmore had selected him in the 23-man roster for a reason, and it appears that the time is now right for him to get his first taste of Gold Cup action this cycle.

“I think it was a good day, the preparation from we got here in LA has been good, the recovery of the team when we flew in with ice baths and everything. I think everybody is upbeat and from practice everybody is flying right now. It is an important game tomorrow (today), so we have to go out there and don't lose the game and we are through to the next round,” shared the veteran who started his pro career with Houston Dynamo in 2011.

One of the most versatile players in Major League Soccer for a number of years, Watson played in midfield, but upon moving to Dallas FC he was moved to wing back, where his athleticism, pace and technical ability came to the fore.

Now at Oklahoma City Energy in the lower United Soccer League, Watson is looking forward to using his experience to guide his younger teammates in the dreaded midfield position.

“I am enjoying that. I'm always here, I'm a team player, and at the end of the day we have to make sure the younger guys are comfortable and playing and 'Tappa' [head coach] always tells me to be focused and keep training hard and since then I have been waiting for my time to go out there and tomorrow (today) I'm going to go out there and execute as you know we want to win this tournament more than anybody.

“The team is good, the vibe in the camp is good and I think there is no doubt we are going to perform tomorrow (today),” he said.

Watson has been keeping his younger teammates honest in recent times, even as he was left out of the starting team, but yesterday he looked the part in the centre of midfield alongside Andre “LA” Lewis and Devon “Speedy” Williams in midfield, as well as the link-up play with the front three was also fluid and promising.

He thought that the group of players complemented each other very well.

“I think it is because of the type of players that the coach has called upon,” he offered as a reason for yesterday's eye-catching exercise.

“At any time he can take a player out and put another player in. It's always competitive here and I think guys are hungry and guys are excited to get a spot in the team and I think that's how you get the best team out there,” he said.

And regarding the chemistry in the midfield trio, he said: “It's going to be good because LA and Speedy are touch players and likewise myself, so I just have to stay there and stabilise the midfield, protect the back four and allow them to roam and create.”

He was also pleased with the front three and their connection in training yesterday.

“I think we got runners at the front with Flemmings (Junior), who was man of the match the last game, and we got Ricardo (Morris) on the next side and we have “Bowza” (Shamar Nicholson), who is hot like fire right now, so I don't think it is going to be a tied game with the force that we got up front, so we just have to go out there and play our best soccer.”

— Ian Burnett


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